Constant Lambert

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rockfreak
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Constant Lambert

Post by rockfreak » Tue Mar 10, 2015 8:16 pm

Richard suggests a thread on CH's famous composer. I don't think there is one but apologies if I'm about to cover stuff that's already on the site. There's some very good left-field info about Lambert in the sleeve notes of two CDs that I've got, both on the Hyperion label, one is Summer's Last Will and Testament/The Rio Grande/Aubade Heroique, and the other is the pairing of the ballets Tiresias and Pomona, both by the English Northern Philharmonia. Lambert's unhappiness at school seems to have been partly caused by being laughed at when he asked to conduct the school orchestra. They didn't know that within a few short years he would be conducting adult orchestras playing his own compositions. William Walton recalls seeing him "In the King's Road when he was still at Christ's Hospital and wearing his school's idiosyncratic uniform".
The notes on one particular CD make the point that Lambert was an energetic shooting star who involved himself in many projects; composing, conducting, and writing (the music critique volume Music Ho!), and indeed he didn't perhaps achieve the consistency of style that we associate with Walton or Elgar - his music runs the gamut of emotions from the melancholy of Summer's Last Will and Testament to the jazz influences of Rio Grande. But his music seems often to have attracted critical praise and, in the case of The Rio Grande, instant popular success. There are eight ballets, a piano concerto, choral works and film scores. Ballet is the consistent theme and he was, of course, a prime mover with Ninette de Valois in the development of the Sadlers Wells ballet company which later developed into our premier national company at Covent Garden. Frederick Ashton choreographed some of his work while it was danced by Michael Somes and Margot Fonteyn (with whom he had a long affair).
His ballets were varied and often cutting edge. The story of Tiresias requires a sex change from the lead character and a discussion by two copulating snakes about which is getting the most satisfaction. The sets were by his wife, Isabel, and were described as strikingly modern. In his youth, along with Walton, Lambert had been taken up by the Sitwells as one of the young talents that they loved to try and cherry pick, and his sonorous voice can be heard doing the vocals in one recorded version of Walton and Edith Sitwell's piece Facade.

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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by Martin » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:33 am

Dr WH Fyfe, appointed headmaster in 1919, made many changes at CH. He broadened the curriculum far beyond Classics and Mathematics for grecians/university entrance and recognising Constant Lambert’s talent he ensured that he was the first Music Grecian.

It is difficult today to appreciate Lambert’s enormous reputation and influence during his heydays. At the age of only 20 he was commissioned by Sergei Diaghilev to compose the music for his ballet Romeo and Juliet. Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes were then at the cutting edge of avant garde culture and an overwhelming influence on Western Ballet and its evolution. The most important contemporary artists (Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Georges Braque, Maurice Utrillo, Max Ernst, Joan Miro, etc) provided Diaghilev’s ballet stage settings. Lambert was unusual in other ways. He wrote well and his much acclaimed book, ‘Music Ho!’ is still relevant. He was a principal conductor with the Sadler’s Wells Ballet (later to become the Royal Ballet) and his compositions included references to jazz, which was untypical of British contemporary composers. An excellent example is “The Rio Grande”, scored for orchestra, jazz band and choir. It is a setting of a poem with the same title by Sacheverell Sitwell. In the mid 1950s there was a performance of this work in Big School. The Housey Hotspots was an excellent boys’ jazz band (led I believe by J Austen, a saxophonist from Th A) and its existence probably was the determining factor in choosing this work for performance by the Orchestra and Big School Choir. Lambert’s personal life was marred (and cut short) by his alcoholism, which probably contributed to the early decline of his composing powers in the last 10 years of his short life.

A note for the Moderator – If ‘Constant Lambert’ is to be a new thread, should it be part of the ‘William Glock’ postings?

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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by jtaylor » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:45 am

Split out into a new topic, as requested.

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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by DavidRawlins » Sat Mar 14, 2015 8:23 am

Anthony Powell and Constant Lambert were great friends, and in all four volumes of Anthony Powell's memoirs (To Keep the Ball Rolling) there are references to him and in the first volume of his journals.
Anthony Powell is not certain why they got on well together as he (Anthony Powell) was not musical, and their literature tastes were not the same. Anthony Powell say he was a good talker. His father was a painter, and painted Constant Lambert in Housey uniform.
He also notes that he never wore a hat, a hangover from Christ's Hospital (I think most of us don't - until we start loosing our hair).
There are two photographs of him in the volumes, one with his first wife - a bit pornographic.
Moreland, in Anthony Powell's 'Music of Time', was based to some extent on Constant Lambert.
Some of the references to Constant Lambert in Anthony Powell's memoirs are very short - others long. The books are very well indexed.
In Michael Barber's biography - 'Anthony Powell, A Life', Constant Lambert is also mentioned.
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by Avon » Sun Mar 15, 2015 8:28 am

DavidRawlins wrote: He also notes that he never wore a hat, a hangover from Christ's Hospital (I think most of us don't - until we start loosing our hair).
What's the correlation? I've never felt the looming CH influence over my decision to wear hats or not - but then the RN dinned that out of me I suppose.

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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by Fjgrogan » Sun Mar 15, 2015 9:44 am

Very off topic, but ...................

In Hertford in the 1950s girls were not allowed outside the school gates without wearing a hat - this was clearly a hangover from previous times when it was not 'done' for young ladies to appear in public hatless - I blame it on Miss West's obsession with St Paul! However it went to ridiculous lengths when the girl who delivered the mail to the staff house on the opposite side of Fore Street was not allowed to do so unless she donned a chapel cap! I have never liked hats since that day, and will only wear one when it is a compulsory part of a uniform (Guides, Sea Rangers, WRNR). However it makes no sense to me that Horsham Old Blues should have the same dislike - surely the boys have never worn hats as part of their uniform within living memory?
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by sejintenej » Sun Mar 15, 2015 10:33 am

Fjgrogan wrote:Very off topic, but ...................
- surely the boys have never worn hats as part of their uniform within living memory?
True, but outside CH in the late 40s and half of the 50s I had to wear a headcovering (in my case a beret) when outside a building and not working or in (semi) organised games. Of course one doffed the hat for all ladies and touched the bill for men of higher rank which for me was everyone
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by jhopgood » Tue Mar 17, 2015 9:47 am

Does no-one remember turning a "tubular" scarf inside out, sticking half on your head and winding the rest around your neck on really cold days?
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by sejintenej » Tue Mar 17, 2015 11:27 am

jhopgood wrote:Does no-one remember turning a "tubular" scarf inside out, sticking half on your head and winding the rest around your neck on really cold days?
Certainly but only when being forced to watch rugger etc. Not when in full uniform or in the avanue or Horsham
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by J.R. » Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:37 pm

sejintenej wrote:
jhopgood wrote:Does no-one remember turning a "tubular" scarf inside out, sticking half on your head and winding the rest around your neck on really cold days?
Certainly but only when being forced to watch rugger etc. Not when in full uniform or in the avanue or Horsham

I've still got said woollen scarf upstairs in a drawer. It has collected a few of moth holes over the years but still serves the purpose !
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by michael scuffil » Tue Mar 17, 2015 5:23 pm

Perhaps it's the hatlessness of CH which now propels me to have my hats (felt in winter, some exotic straw-like fibre in summer) made to measure by a man in Cologne who's nearly 90.
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by rockfreak » Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:31 pm

The Politics thread was once diverted by Cats: now the Lambert thread is being diverted by Hats. What's going on?

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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by J.R. » Fri Mar 27, 2015 3:11 pm

rockfreak wrote:The Politics thread was once diverted by Cats: now the Lambert thread is being diverted by Hats. What's going on?
Probably caused by that classic childs book, "The Cat In The Hat" !!

:roll:
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Re: Constant Lambert

Post by jhopgood » Fri Mar 27, 2015 4:36 pm

J.R. wrote:
rockfreak wrote:The Politics thread was once diverted by Cats: now the Lambert thread is being diverted by Hats. What's going on?
Probably caused by that classic childs book, "The Cat In The Hat" !!

:roll:
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