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Gillian Bibby


Born: 1945 Died: 2023


Gillian Bibby was a NZ pianist, composer and researcher who studied at Otago, Berlin and Cologne, her teachers including Stockhausen. She was awarded the Kranichsteiner and Darmstadt prizes in new music; was a Mozart Fellow (Otago University) and a Churchill Fellow. She was active as a pianist in Europe, as a national recording artist for Radio NZ; as lecturer; as president of the NZ Composers’ Association; and she took a term on the National Council of the IRMT. She was an examiner for the AMEB for a decade, and examined for the NZMEB; was also a Suzuki Teacher Trainer and one of NZ’s most successful piano teachers.

In 2000 she set up the CHAMPS Trust offering Wellington students professional training in chamber music, and in August 2013 was awarded the Marie Vanderwart Memorial Award by Chamber Music NZ ‘in recognition of outstanding service and commitment to fostering the love of chamber music.’

In 2009 she was instrumental in forming the Sunrise Trust, to commission, edit and publish NZ music for younger students. Publications that she researched and edited include Sunrise: Music from New Zealand for Young Pianists (2008); Take Flight: Music from New Zealand for Intermediate Pianists (2010); and Living Echoes: The First 150 Years of Piano Music in New Zealand (2014). Her research into the earliest piano works written in this country led to her giving lectures throughout New Zealand in 2015, on the subject 'Prodigies and Prostitutes: The Unexpected World of Piano Composition in Early New Zealand'. She was also engaged in the selection of the best of the easier piano works of Douglas Lilburn to be included in Promethean Edition’s complete Lilburn piano music editions.

Recordings include 'Love, Life and Death', music by Mussorgsky, Ravel, Poulenc and Bibby; 'Salutes to Poets', songs by NZ composer Douglas Lilburn, with baritone Roger Wilson; 'Songs of the Morning', a musical account of the early exploration of the Antarctic, with diary entries and songs composed in the Antarctic by Gerald Doorly, Ernest Shackleton and others; 'Sunrise', NZ piano works; 'Take Flight', NZ piano works; and 'Gold: Songs of the New Zealand Diggings', recording the ballads of Charles Thatcher, a comic entertainer of the NZ goldfields in the 19th century. In addition, a video of Sings Harry (Douglas Lilburn) with baritone Roger Wilson was made by SOUNZ.

On the occasion of her 70th birthday, a concert was given at Victoria University with nine of her compositions from the years 1969 to the present day. Videos of performances from this concert, as well as other works, are available from SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music.

Gillian's other projects involved (i) continuing research into the early composers in NZ’s distant past, particularly those who wrote for piano, leading to a book on this subject, together with a 200-page companion volume of the more advanced of the music discussed in the book; (ii) the publication in several volumes of the complete works for solo piano of Paul Schramm; and (iii) the completion of a song cycle and large series of piano pieces involving NZ birdsong.

Gillian Bibby passed away on 7 August 2023.

"Silence is given to us so that we may draw sustenance from it" – Arvo Pärt

Composed (35)


for chamber orchestra, 12m


for flute (alto flute), trumpet and clarinet (bass clarinet)

Beneidenswert (Enviable)

for SATB choir, 4m

Bird Hopping

for solo piano, 45s

Bird Looks in the Window

for solo piano, 45s

Blackbird in the Rain

for solo piano, 1m 45s

Dangerous Mission

for solo piano, 1m

Dawn Chorus

for solo piano, 1m 30s

Fanfares for Macbeth

incidental tape music for play, 40m

Fire Music

for tape, 8m

Flight of bells

for piano

In Memoriam

for 8-part choir, organ and percussion, 12m


for mixed septet

Lest you be my Enemy

ballet music for tape, 6m

Music for Celebrations

for soprano, baritone and piano (different combination for each piece)

Musik für drei Hörer (Music for 3 Listeners)

for clavichord, voice and percussion, 41m

Musik für drei und einige Hörer

Music for 3 and sundry listeners, 41m

Musik für eine Aula

music for a concert hall for seven voices, four cellos, three additional instruments ad lib.

Prelude: The Sun Has Risen

for solo piano, 1m 30s

Russian Bells

for solo piano, 1m

Sanctuary of Spirits

children's opera, 40m


for organ, 4 renaissance trombones and zink (renaissance trumpet), 14m


for tape, 13m

The Beasts

for baritone and piano, 12m


for solo organ, 20m

Tui in the Flax Bush

for solo piano, 1m 30s

Recordings (1)