Michael Gibson (musician)

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Michael Gibson (September 29, 1944 – July 15, 2005) was a musician, trombonist and orchestrator, nominated twice for the American Theatre Wing's Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.[1] He won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations for My One and Only in 1983.[2]


Gibson began his career as a studio musician in New York City, often working with James Brown. In 1972 he changed direction, to become an orchestrator. Best known for his work on the original motion picture version of Grease (1978) and the Broadway musicals Steel Pier (1997) and Cabaret (revival, 1998),[1] Gibson frequently worked with the famous composer-lyricist partnership of John Kander and Fred Ebb; his long-standing relationship with Kander began with Woman of the Year (1981).[3] He received four additional Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Orchestrations nominations: for Anything Goes (1988), Steel Pier (1997), Cabaret (1998), and the 'dexterously orchestrated'[4] The Wild Party (2000).

Gibson also worked on motion pictures, including Merchant Ivory's Roseland (1976), for which he composed, arranged and orchestrated, and Robert Benton's thriller Still of the Night (1982), orchestrating Kander's score. He orchestrated solo shows for dancers and performers, including Liza Minnelli, and, with Jonathan Tunick, the 1993 musical revue, A Grand Night for Singing.[5] Film Reference has a more complete list.

Gibson was known for a big, jazzy musical sound with plenty of brass, which dancers love.[3] His last venture was All Shook Up (2005), which he co-orchestrated with Stephen Oremus.

Gibson’s wife donated his archive to the New York Public Library in 2006.

Personal life[edit]

Gibson was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware and attended Harvard University for two years before transferring to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts to study music composition and theory.[1] He was also a licensed pilot, and he and Larry Blank flew together.[6] Gibson died in Dover, New Jersey in July 2005 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife of 21 years, Ellen, and son Andrew.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "Michael Gibson, 60, Trombonist and Broadway Orchestrator, Dies". The New York Times. 22 July 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  2. ^ "1983 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Orchestration". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b Rourke, Mary (July 22, 2005). "Michael Gibson, 60; He Orchestrated 'Grease' and Other Musicals, Films". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  4. ^ Brantley, Ben (February 25, 2000). "THEATER REVIEW; A Jazz Age Tale Of Lust and Death". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  5. ^ Holden, Stephen (November 18, 1993). "Review/Theater: A Grand Night for Singing; New Image for Rodgers And Hammerstein: Hip". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  6. ^ Blank, Larry (September 9, 2005). "Flying Through Life With Michael". Allegro. Retrieved October 4, 2016.

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