With deep sadness AVIE Records mourns the passing of Jon Lord, a gentleman and great musician whose two albums for the label, Durham Concerto (AV 2145) and To Notice Such Things (AV 2190) are among the most celebrated in the catalogue.
Jon suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism on Monday, 16 July 2012, at the London Clinic, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was surrounded by his loving family.
Jon Lord, the founding keyboard player of prog-rock band Deep Purple, co-wrote many of the band’s legendary songs including Smoke On The Water. Jon played with many bands and musicians throughout his career.
Upon retiring from Deep Purple in 2002, Jon returned to his classical routes, penning numerous works for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble and solo piano. In 2007 he was commissioned by Durham University to compose a work as part of the university’s 175th anniversary celebrations. The resulting Durham Concerto is an epic three-part, six-movement work inspired by local references to the ancient city and celebrated sites such as the Palace Green and Durham Cathedral. Scored for large orchestra it features an array of solo opportunities for violin, cello, Northumbrian pipes and – Jon’s speciality – Hammond organ. Durham Concerto was premiered by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra who later recorded the work for AVIE. Released in 2008, the album was the highest new entry in Classic FM’s 2009 Hall of Fame.
To Notice Such Things followed in 2010. The six-movement suite for solo flute, piano and string orchestra was composed in memory of Lord’s close friend the late Sir John Mortimer, CBE, QC, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey. Literary references abound, with the title track taken from the Thomas Hardy poem “Afterwards.” The album is filled out with an instrumental arrangement of Jon’s Evening Song, For Example which evokes one of Jon’s favourite composers Edvard Grieg, and Air on a Blue String in which Bach meets the blues. The album ends with actor Jeremy Irons reading of the poem “Afterwards,” accompanied by Jon at the piano. To Notice Such Things achieved great critical and commercial success, reaching Number 2 on the UK’s Specialist Classical Chart and named an Editor’s Choice by Gramophone Magazine.
Jon is perhaps best known for his orchestral work Concerto for Group & Orchestra, first performed at the Royal Albert Hall with Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in 1969 and conducted by Malcolm Arnold, a feat repeated in 1999 when it was again performed at the Royal Albert Hall by the London Symphony Orchestra and Deep Purple. Jon has been recognised for his “considerable skill at imaginative soundscapes” (Gramophone), while The Times of London declared, “In the small but growing field of pop stars who write classical music, Lord is a clear leader.”