Questing composer and renowned teacher, John Lambert made a distinctive contribution to British music of his time. After training at the Royal College and Royal Academy of Music, he spent 1950-53 in Paris studying with Nadia Boulanger. From 1958-62 he was director of music at the Old Vic, working with Tippett on Shakespeare's The Tempest in 1962. In 1963, he was appointed professor of composition at the RCM, where his many pupils over the next 30 years included Julian Anderson, Simon Bainbridge, Gary Carpenter, David Fanshawe, Oliver Knussen, Jonathan Lloyd, Ian McQueen, Barrington Pheloung and Mark Anthony Turnage.
Although he insisted on his students undergoing the same strict training in traditional techniques as he had himself, his own output advanced steadily from the austere canonic textures of his early liturgical music, composed as organist at the City church of St. Vedast-alias-Foster, into more radical areas, fed by the Experimental Music Class he ran for many years at the RCM and culminating in his major electroacoustic cycle Sea-Change, not quite completed at the time of his premature death. As a personality, Lambert could be fiercely principled in defending the musical values he believed in, but it was typical of his generosity of spirit that he chose to dedicate his orchestral masterpiece Formations and Transformations, premiered at the Proms in 1972, to four of his then-current pupils.
(C) Bayan Northcott