Gibbons was born in England. His father is a scientist and his mother a visual artist. He began his piano studies in Stockton-on-Tees, later continuing in Oxford. He began performing in public at the age of 10. He made his London debut in 1979, at the age of 17, with an all-Alkan concert that included Alkan's Concerto for solo piano and Ouverture from Op. 39. At the age of 20 he won First Prize in the Newport International Pianoforte Competition, with a performance with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4. In 1984 he made his Queen Elizabeth Hall debut performing J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations, Chopin's "Funeral March" Sonata and Ravel's Gaspard de la nuit, after which recital The Times wrote that Gibbons "could be Britain's answer to Ivo Pogorelić". Since then Gibbons has played in many prestigious venues and festivals all over the world, as recitalist and concerto soloist.
For 16 years, from 1990 to 2005, Gibbons gave annual all-Gershwin concerts at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, with a gap in 2001 following a near-fatal car accident. These concerts feature Gibbons' own note-for-note reconstructions and transcriptions of the original recorded improvisations and concert works of George Gershwin. Over the 16 years of his Queen Elizabeth Hall all-Gershwin concerts, Gibbons has given the world premieres of at least 48 reconstructed original Gershwin works. He has also since 1994 given similar all-Gershwin concerts at New York's Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall.
In 1992 Gibbons made his recording debut on the Hyperion label (with Constant Lambert's The Rio Grande). The recording was nominated for a Gramophone Award and awarded a Penguin Guide 3-star rosette. Between 1992 and 1997 Gibbons recorded a 4-CD set of recordings entitled "The Authentic George Gershwin", which won an MRA (Music Retailers Award). Issued on the British label ASV Gibbons' "Authentic George Gershwin" recordings were described by Classic CD as "a unique testimony to Gershwin's genius".
In January 1995, in Oxford, Gibbons became the first pianist ever to perform all 12 of Alkan's Douze Etudes dans les Tons Mineurs, Op. 39 in a single concert (the concert was repeated the following year at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London). The same month Gibbons recorded the work (its first digital recording) for the ASV label, Gramophone describing the recording as "among the most exhilarating feats of pianism I've heard on disc". The same year, on 27 August 1995 Gibbons made his debut at the BBC Prom concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, the BBC describing Gibbons as "THE Gershwin pianist of our time". In 1997 Gibbons wrote and presented a feature program for the BBC on George Gershwin in preparation for the centenary of the composer's birth, with actor Sir Ben Kingsley providing the voice of George Gershwin.
In March 2001, Gibbons was involved in a life-threatening car accident. Gibbons' accident and recovery were the subject of much media attention from newspapers, television and radio, with features in the Sunday Times, Gramophone, BBC etc. Michael Church in the Daily Express described Gibbons' subsequent return to the concert platform as "miraculous" and "gutsy". Following his serious car accident, Gibbons has given increasing attention to composing in place of his performing career. After childhood successes as a composer, Gibbons had abandoned his composing for 25 years in favour of performing. Gibbons' own music has since been performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and recorded by the BBC. Gibbons' output to date (October 2010) includes over 40 songs and choral works (mostly for soprano voice), 20 solo piano works, and two works for string orchestra.
Gibbons' performing career still continues alongside his composing. In March 2007 Gibbons gave the first performance at Carnegie Hall of Alkan's Concerto for Solo Piano, in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the work's publication in Paris in 1857. Gibbons continues to perform in Oxford, where he has been presenting and playing an annual summer piano festival every year without a break since 1988.
On 21 June 2010 Davis and Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia, USA, announced that Jack Gibbons would become the college's Artist in Residence, beginning August 2010.
List of compositions by Jack Gibbons by category
- Lament for strings, Op. 41
- Serenade for strings, Op. 71
- Ave verum corpus, Op. 89
- Ave verum corpus, Op. 90
- My heart is like a singing bird, Op. 91
- Christmas Bells, Op. 92
- The Lamb Child, Op. 95
- Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, Op. 100
- The Virgin's Cradle Hymn, Op. 101
- Sonnet: Remember me (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 12
- Phantom of Delight (words by William Wordsworth), Op. 13
- When We Two Parted (words by Lord Byron), Op. 14
- I'll Not Weep (words by Emily Brontë), Op. 15
- Beloved Again (words by Emily Brontë), Op. 16
- Music, when soft voices die (words by Percy Bysshe Shelley), Op. 17
- Echo (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 18
- Sleep Not (words by Emily Brontë), Op. 19
- Why? (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 20
- Epitaph for a child (words by Robert Herrick), Op. 21
- The Garden of Love (words by William Blake), Op. 22
- In The Lane (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 23
- Weep you no more (words by John Dowland), Op. 24
- The Linnet (words by Walter de la Mare), Op. 25
- Roses for the flush of youth (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 26
- The Bourne (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 27
- Among the flowers (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 28
- Love me, I Love You (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 29
- If I Could Shut the Gate (words anon), Op. 31
- Oh What Comes Over the Sea (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 32
- Mariana (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 33
- Shall Earth No More Inspire Thee (words by Emily Brontë), Op. 34
- When I am Dead My Dearest (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 36
- Echo's Song (words by Ben Jonson), Op. 40
- Once (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 43
- Perhaps (to R.A.L.) (words by Vera Brittain), Op. 47
- A Life Beyond (words by Jack Gibbons), Op. 52
- The Sun Is Set (words by Jack Gibbons), Op. 57
- Sapessi pure! (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 58
- Sing A Song of Spring (words by Jack Gibbons), Op. 60
- May (words by Christina Rossetti), Op. 61
- A Red, Red Rose (words by Robert Burns), Op. 62
- I Love My Jean (words by Robert Burns), Op. 63
- Cradle Song (words by John Phillip), Op. 64
- A Love Alive (words by Jack Gibbons), Op. 65
- Life (words by Charlotte Brontë), Op. 67
- The Parting Day (words by Edith Wharton), Op. 68
- The One Grief (words by Edith Wharton), Op. 69
- How Sweet I Roam'd from Field to Field (words by William Blake), Op. 72
- Longing (words by Matthew Arnold), Op. 73
- The Aspen (words by A.E. Houseman), Op. 74
- Roses (words by Edna St. Vincent Millay), Op. 75
- Lullaby of an Infant Chief (words by Sir Walter Scott), Op. 76
- Siciliano, Op. 30
- Prelude in A flat, Op. 37
- Tarantella, Op. 38
- Waltz in E major, Op. 39
- Prière, Op. 44
- Song Without Words, Op. 45
- Contredanse, Op. 46
- Song from the Old World, Op. 48
- Waltz in G major, Op. 49
- Music Box, Op. 50
- Lullaby (in memoriam), Op. 51
- Waltz in F minor, Op. 53
- Sarabande, Op. 54
- Waltz in E flat minor, Op. 55
- Prelude in E major, Op. 56
- Shanty, Op. 59
- A New World Song, Op. 66
- Waltz for a musical box, Op. 77
- Waltz in F major, Op. 78
- Nocturne in F sharp, Op. 79
- Melody in F sharp, Op. 80
- Minuetto malinconico, Op. 81
- 7 Esquisses, Op. 82
- Andantino, Op. 83
- Preludio, Op. 84
- Menuetto antico, Op. 85
- Nocturne in D flat, Op. 86
- Menuetto semplice, Op. 87
- Consolation, Op. 88
- Nocturne in B flat minor, Op. 93
- Romance, Op. 96
- Impromptu in C major, Op. 98
- Folk song, Op. 99
- Siciliano for flute and piano, Op. 70
- Siciliano a quattro mani Op. 70a
- Siciliano for flute, cello and piano, Op. 70b
- Song Prelude, for piano duet, Op. 94
- Nicola Lisle, Oxford Mail (9 August 2007). "Jack returns to his very special Holywell home". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Francis Pott, Gramophone. "A Drink with Gershwin (August 2003)". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- International Who's Who in Classical Music, Edited by Europa Publications. International Who's Who in Classical Music 2003 in Google Books. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
- Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. "Jack Gibbons 1979 concert poster" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. "Jack Gibbons 1984 concert poster" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Stephen Pettitt, The Times (1 May 1984). "Freshness of manner" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Musicians Benevolent Fund (13 July 2003). "Queen Elizabeth Hall concert program" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Andrew Morgan, The Sunday Times (28 July 2002). "Wired for sound" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Jablonski, Edward (22 August 1998). Gershwin (Discography page 414) at Amazon books. Da Capo Press. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Irv Lichtman, Billboard (1 November 1997). "Gibbons' Love of Gershwin" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Soon Wee Koe. "Penguin Guide 3 Star Rosette List (E-L)". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Anthony, Jacob. "Musical Heritage Society review". Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. "Jack Gibbons 1996 concert flyer" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Michael Stewart, Gramophone. "Alkan Piano Works. Jack Gibbons (November 1995, page 145)". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Yanow, Scott. "Biography: Jack Gibbons". AMG. Retrieved 16 May 2010.
- "Gershwin in Focus with Jack Gibbons and Sir Ben Kingsley". blip.tv. July 1997. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Phil Clee, Oxford Mail (14 March 2001). "Musician fights back from crash" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Michael Church, Sunday Express (4 August 2002). "Miracle in a major key" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Martin Anderson, International Piano Magazine. "Gershwin, Alkan and Gibbons (February 2005, page 22)" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Sean Rafferty, In Tune. "BBC Radio 3 picture gallery". Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- Sean Rafferty, In Tune. "BBC Radio 3 programme details". Retrieved 23 June 2010.
- Carnegie Hall, New York. "Jack Gibbons 2007 concert poster" (PDF). Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Nicola Lisle, The Oxford Times (21 July 2010). "Jack returns to his very special Holywell home". Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- Davis & Elkins College News & Information, Carol Schuler, Director of Communications & Marketing. "Famed Pianist Gibbons D&E Artist in Residence". Retrieved 21 June 2010.