Concerto for Group and Orchestra

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Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Concerto Deep Purple.jpg
Live album by Deep Purple & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Released December 1969 (US)
January 1970 (UK)
Recorded 24 September 1969
Genre Classical crossover, progressive rock
Length 59:26
Label Tetragrammaton (US)
Harvest (UK)
Polydor (Canada)
Producer Deep Purple
Deep Purple live albums chronology
Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Made in Japan
Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Concerto For Group And Orchestra.jpg
Video by Deep Purple & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Released 4 April 1970 (TV), 6 May 2003 (DVD)
Recorded 24 September 1969
Genre Classical crossover, progressive rock
Length 52:30 The Best of Both Worlds
Label Eagle Vision
Deep Purple chronology
Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Live in Concert 72/73
(1972 & 1973)

The Concerto for Group and Orchestra is a concerto composed by Jon Lord, with lyrics written by Ian Gillan. It was first performed by Deep Purple and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Malcolm Arnold on 24 September 1969 and released on vinyl in December 1969. After the score was lost in 1970, it was performed again in 1999 with a recreated score. The 1969 performance was the first ever combination of rock music and a complete orchestra and paved the way for other rock/orchestra performances such as Metallica's S&M concert and Roger Waters's The Wall – Live in Berlin performance.

Musical Form[edit]

The Concerto for Group and Orchestra displays some characteristics of the concerto grosso, sinfonia concertante, and concerto for orchestra genres:

First movement (Moderato – Allegro)
After an elaborate orchestral introduction the Group and the Orchestra work as separate blocks, trying to get dominance over the main theme – this opposition of a group of soloists against an orchestra is quite "concerto grosso" style.
Second movement (Andante), with lyrics sung by Ian Gillan
Here the group integrates more with the sound of the orchestra while still clearly on top of the orchestral texture, giving a sinfonia concertante look and feel.
Third movement (Vivace – Presto)
Apart from Ian Paice's drum solo, the music is so tightly knit that the distinction between the group and the orchestra is almost lifted: in a way the group becomes part of an extended orchestra, with one elaborate "solo" passage, by an instrument that is no soloist throughout the movement, giving a concerto touch: this is more or less what is understood by the Concerto for Orchestra genre.

Original 1969 Royal Albert Hall Performance[edit]


The piece was first performed and recorded on 24 September 1969 in the Royal Albert Hall, London, by:

The programme consisted of:

No. Title Performer(s) Length
1. "Symphony No. 6, Op. 95" (Malcolm Arnold)
  • 1st Movement: Energico (9:19)
  • 2nd Movement: Lento (8:52)
  • 3rd Movement: Con Fuoco (7:02)
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra 25:13
2. "Hush" (Joe South) Deep Purple 4:42
3. "Wring That Neck" (Ritchie Blackmore, Nick Simper, Jon Lord, Ian Paice) Deep Purple 13:23
4. "Child in Time" (Blackmore, Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Lord, Paice) Deep Purple 12:06
5. "Concerto for Group and Orchestra" (Jon Lord, with lyrics by Ian Gillan)
  • First Movement: Moderato-Allegro (19:23)
  • Second Movement: Andante (19:11)
  • Third Movement: Vivace-Presto (13:09)
Deep Purple
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
6. "Parts of the Concerto's "Third Movement" (Given as an encore.)   5:53


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
  • The Concerto for Group and Orchestra was first released on vinyl in December 1969 in the United States (Tetragrammaton) and in January 1970 in the United Kingdom (Harvest). These releases contained only the "Concerto", with the second movement broken in two-halves. Copies of the original US editions are rare as Tetragrammaton went bankrupt while the album was still being issued. In the following year, the Concerto became the only Tetragrammaton release to be reissued by Warner Bros., Deep Purple's new US label.
  • On 4 April 1970, the Concerto was shown on British television as The Best of Both Worlds.
  • The 1990s saw a CD release including the songs "Wring That Neck" and "Child in Time".
  • In 2002 EMI released special edition DVD-A, SACD and 2-CD sets of Concerto for Group and Orchestra, featuring the entire program of music played that night.
  • In 2003, a video recording of this concert was released on DVD. However, four and a half minutes of the 1st Movement are missing in this video, as it was taken straight from the BBC's 4 April 1970 broadcast of the event (see above). The edit was in the original BBC broadcast.

1970 Los Angeles performance[edit]

The Concerto was performed one more time, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lawrence Foster at the Hollywood Bowl on 25 August 1970, after which the score was lost.

Malcolm Arnold's views[edit]

In an interview for hospital radio in Huddersfield in 1970, shortly after the Royal Albert Hall performance, Arnold provided a positive take on the experience.

"What strikes me about Deep Purple is their tremendous musical integrity. This is so refreshing in a commercial world. I loved working with them. They're thorough musicians. They're not trying to prove anything. They just like to play now and again with a Symphony Orchestra. They're not trying to prove any deep philosophical problem. They just want to write music that's enjoyable.[2]

Ritchie Blackmore's views[edit]

In a 1979 interview with Sounds magazine,[3] Blackmore said:

"I was not into classical music then. I was very very moody and just wanted to play very very loudly and jump around a lot. I couldn't believe we were playing with orchestras. We kept getting lumbered playing with them. We started off in '68- this is my opinion- as a relatively competent band with a lot to say but saying it all at the same time as each other.

"in '69 we went into the classical stuff because it was Jon Lord's big thing to write a concerto for group and orchestra. He was very sincere. But I didn't like playing it or respect the fact that we were doing it. The orchestra was very condescending towards us, and I didn't like playing with them, so it was one big calamity onstage. But Jon was happy with it and management was happy with it because we had a press angle, which I resented very much.

"In 1970 I said, 'right, we're going to make a rock and roll LP. If this doesn't succeed I'll play in orchestras for the rest of my life', because Jon wasn't too into hard rock. Luckily it took off, so I didn't have to play with orchestras any more.

"I love orchestras, chamber music—unaccompanied violin is my favourite. But I respected them too much, and we just weren't in the same calibre. I'd been playing 15 years at the time, and stuck next to some dedicated violinist who's been playing for 50 years just to give an angle to the press—it's insulting. That's why it started and ended very abruptly."

1999 Royal Albert Hall performances[edit]


On 25 and 26 September 1999, thirty years after its initial performance, the Concerto was again performed in front of a live audience in the Royal Albert Hall. To make this performance possible, a new score was created by Marco de Goeij by listening to the recording and watching the video of the 1969 performance.

Performers were:

  • The Kick Horns
    • Simon Clarke: alto and baritone saxophones, flute
    • Roddy Lorimer: trumpet and flugelhorn
    • Tim Sanders: tenor and soprano saxophones

The programme consisted of:

  1. Four Scottish Dances (Malcolm Arnold), performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
  2. "Pictured Within", performed by Jon Lord and Miller Anderson
  3. "Wait A While", performed by Jon Lord and Sam Brown
  4. "Sitting in a Dream", performed by Roger Glover and Ronnie James Dio
  5. "Love Is All", performed by Roger Glover and Ronnie James Dio
  6. "Via Miami", performed by Ian Gillan
  7. "That's Why God Is Singing the Blues", performed by Ian Gillan
  8. "Night Meets Light", performed by The Steve Morse Band
  9. "Take It off the Top", performed by The Steve Morse Band
  10. "Wring That Neck", performed by Ian Paice & The Kick Horns
  11. Concerto for Group and Orchestra (Jon Lord, with lyrics by Ian Gillan), performed by Deep Purple and The London Symphony Orchestra
    1. "First Movement: Moderato-Allegro" (19:23)
    2. "Second Movement: Andante" (19:11)
    3. "Third Movement: Vivace-Presto" (13:09)
  12. "Ted the Mechanic", performed by Deep Purple and The London Symphony Orchestra
  13. "Watching the Sky", performed by Deep Purple and The London Symphony Orchestra
  14. "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming", performed by Deep Purple and The London Symphony Orchestra
  15. "Pictures Of Home", performed by Deep Purple and The London Symphony Orchestra
  16. "Smoke on the Water", performed by the evening's entire ensemble


The recording of the concert was released on a double CD as Live at the Royal Albert Hall. A cut recording of the performance was also released on DVD, entitled In Concert with the London Symphony Orchestra.

2000–2001 Tour[edit]

Encouraged by the success of the 1999 performances, Deep Purple took the Concerto on tour, first performing it in South America with local orchestras, then in Europe with the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra, in Japan with the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, all conducted by Paul Mann.

40th Anniversary Performance[edit]

On the 24th of September 2009 John Lord joined the RTÉ Concerto Orchestra in the National Concert Hall, Dublin, Ireland to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first performance of Concerto for Group and Orchestra.[4][5] Also performed, were pieces from Jon Lord’s solo career and a number of Deep Purple songs including an orchestral version of Child In Time.[4]

Further Performances[edit]

The score of the concerto having been recreated, groups and orchestras across the world were free to perform it:

Dates Venue Performers
January 2003
(3 performances)
Sydney Opera House, Australia for the Sydney Festival George and The Sydney Symphony Orchestra
March 2003
(2 performances)
Perth, Australia Jon Lord, George and The Western Australian Symphony Orchestra
July 2006 Henley Festival, England
7 October 2007 Malcolm Arnold Festival, Northampton, England Jon Lord and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
This festival in memory of the late Malcolm Arnold also included Arnold's Symphony No. 6 and Lord's Masque, a work dedicated to Arnold.
27–29 March 2008
(3 performances)
Adelaide, Australia Jon Lord and The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
11–12 March 2009
(2 performances)
Bratislava, Slovakia Jon Lord and The Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
2 May 2009 São Paulo, Brazil Jon Lord and Orquestra Sinfônica Municipal de São Paulo
1 September 2009 Plovdiv, Bulgaria Jon Lord with singers Doogie White and Kasia Łaska, Darin Vasilev (guitar), Ivaylo Zvezdomirov (bass), Venko Poromanski (drums) and Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Nayden Todorov
5 November 2009 Bucharest, Romania Jon Lord and Rousse Orchestra
16 May 2010 Newark, Delaware, United States Brian Stone and the University of Delaware Symphony Orchestra
16 June 2010 Liverpool, United Kingdom Jon Lord and The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
28 April 2011 Palermo, Italy Jon Lord and The Vincenzo Bellini Symphony Orchestra
6 June 2011 Mulhouse, France Jon Lord with singers Steve Balsamo, Kasia Łaska and Patrick Rondat (guitar), Patrice Guers (bass), Steve White (drums) and the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse. Musical direction by Gwennolé Rufet.

2012 studio version[edit]

In October 2012, a studio version of the Concerto for Group and Orchestra was released. The recording features the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul Mann. The soloists are Jon Lord (organ), Darin Vasilev (guitar in the 1st movement), Joe Bonamassa (guitar in the 2nd movement), Steve Morse (guitar in the 3rd movement), Steve Balsamo, Kasia Łaska, and Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Brett Morgan (drums), and Guy Pratt (bass). The orchestral parts were recorded at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool on 1 and 2 June 2011. The band parts were recorded in August and October 2011 and also on May 2012. The album was mixed at Abbey Road Studios in late May 2012. According to Paul Mann, Jon Lord heard the final master of the recording a few days before his death on 16 July 2012.


Original album (1969)
Year Chart Position
1970 Germany 22
United Kingdom 26
Reunion performance (1999)
Year Chart Position
1999 Germany 32
Switzerland 65
Netherlands 86
Jon Lord's studio version (2012)
Year Chart Position
2012 Germany 37


  1. ^ Eder, Bruce. Concerto for Group and Orchestra at AllMusic
  2. ^
  3. ^ Sounds, December 15, 1979
  4. ^ a b "40th Concerto anniversary in Dublin". Jon Lord - The Official Website. 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2016-06-22. 
  5. ^ RTÉ. "RTÉ - Orchestras". Retrieved 2016-06-22. 

External links[edit]

Vincent Budd, The Gemini Man: an Introduction to the Orchestral Works of Jon Lord, 2003, Gnosis Press