Ruth Gipps

Composer Ruth Gipps was born in Bexhill-on-Sea, England in 1921. Gipps’ family was very musical and her mother was the principal of the Bexhill School of Music.

Gipps was considered a child prodigy. She won competitions where she was the youngest participant by far, and had her first composition bought by a publishing house when she was 8 years old. She entered the Royal College of Music at the age of 16 and studied oboe, piano, and composition. At age 26 she became the youngest British woman to receive a doctorate in music.

At age 33 a shoulder injury ended her performance career and Gipps decided to focus on composition and conducting. These days, there is a small but growing number of women on the podium, when Gipps began conducting she was one of very few and faced harsh criticism from her peers. Gipps used this as a driving force to prove herself through her work, and it was probably the reason she founded so many groups that created performing opportunities for living composers and young professional musicians. She founded the London Repertoire Orchestra in 1955 as an opportunity for young professional musicians to become exposed to a wide range of music. She founded the Chanticleer Orchestra in 1961, a professional ensemble that included a work by a living composer in each of its programs, often a premiere performance. Later in her life, she served as chairwoman of the Composers’ Guild of Great Britain.

Gipps composed music in a wide range of genres, including five symphonies, seven concertos, and numerous chamber and choral works.

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