Sir John, His Galliard

for Piano Quintet
(Piano, 2 Violins, Viola, Cello)

A four-minute piece that was previously kept as a gift among friends is now part of Jon Lord’s published work.

Sir John Mortimer
Sir John Mortimer

Sir John, His Galliard, was written in early 2002 as a birthday present for Sir John Mortimer. Jon and Sir John had only recently met, and their friendship became one of the most significant in either man’s life. The profound empathy the composer felt with Mortimer was to find more elaborate expression in To Notice Such Things (2009), but the present short piece is in some ways that larger work’s precursor.

Among all the deliberately stylised stateliness (Mortimer had been knighted in 1998, and Jon no doubt felt it entirely appropriate to write him a pastiche of a 16th century Renaissance courtly dance), one may catch fleeting, teasing references to the children’s nursery tune This Old Man. The warmth of feeling is unmistakable, especially in the music’s noble climax.

The piece was first performed on 21 April 2002 by a quartet of guest performers and Paul Mann, at a surprise party held for Sir John’s 79th birthday. The composer made only two copies at the time, one of which was presented to its dedicatee. The other was kept in his personal archive, and has only now been recovered and prepared for its first publication.

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