Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lambert, Raymond Edouard (1908–1966)

by Robert Trumble

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Raymond Edouard Lambert (1908-1966), musician, was born on 13 June 1908 at Ostende, Belgium, son of Edouard Joseph Lambert, musician, and his wife Marie Catherine, née Crabbe, an operatic soprano known as 'Maria Ramberti'. Raymond graduated from the Brussels conservatorium at the age of 15, then continued his pianoforte studies at Liège under Arthur de Greef, a former pupil of Franz Liszt. While in Belgium, he appeared in public recitals with his father, a prominent violinist.

In 1926 the Lamberts emigrated to Australia where Edouard was appointed concert master of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Raymond went back to Belgium in 1930, for military training and musical performances. After returning to Melbourne in 1932, he became chief study-teacher of piano at the University Conservatorium of Music, a position he held until his death. At St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral, East Melbourne, on 24 December 1934 he married Ruth Ferguson ('Jill'), daughter of T. J. Ryan; they were to be divorced in 1948.

In addition to teaching, Lambert established a reputation in the fields of solo-playing, chamber music and accompanying. He was noted for his interpretation of French piano music, and of the music of Chopin, Liszt and other Romantic composers. His repertoire, however, extended through the range of keyboard music from Bach and Handel to the contemporary work of Olivier Messiaen.

With the establishment of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1932, Lambert was soon in demand for studio recitals of singers and instrumentalists. In 1936 he was made the official A.B.C. accompanist in Melbourne for radio studio performances and for visiting artists from abroad. Having toured Australia in 1933 with the baritone John Brownlee, Lambert became accompanist and associate artist to many distinguished singers, including Florence Austral, Marjorie Lawrence, Dame Clara Butt, Elizabeth Rethberg, Ezio Pinza, Alexander Kipnis and (Dame) Joan Hammond. Among the instrumentalists with whom he gave sonata recitals were Jeanne Gautier, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, Christian Ferras, Ruggiero Ricci and Ricardo Odnoposoff. Lambert toured Australia with the young American violinist Michael Rabin; he also accompanied him on two tours (1953-55) of the United States of America and in recitals in Scandinavia, Italy and France. He was, as well, associate artist during Ricci's European tour in 1963.

Lambert found special joy and fulfilment in chamber music. With his colleagues he ranged through a considerable part of the repertoire from the early classic period to the contemporary. Informed critics referred not only to his technical ability and musicianship, but also to his artistic integrity. Lambert gave Vincent d'Indy's piano sonata its first Australian performance in 1965, in a studio recital pre-recorded for the A.B.C. and later released on disc. He appeared on television as solo artist, as accompanist, and with orchestra, giving the first performances in Australia of works by Prokofiev, d'Indy and Gershwin, and playing concertos by Brahms, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.

At the office of the government statist, Queen Street, Melbourne, on 7 August 1951 Lambert married Beatrice Gwendoline McCaul, a 24-year-old public servant. Following an operation for cancer, he died of a pulmonary embolism on 17 January 1966 in East Melbourne and was buried in Cheltenham cemetery; his wife survived him, as did the daughter and two sons of his first marriage. A special radio tribute on the A.B.C. on 21 January that year recognized his contribution to performing, broadcasting and teaching.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Glennon, Australian Music and Musicians (Adel, 1968)
  • Canon, 9, no 9, Apr 1956
  • Australasian, 2 Apr 1927
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 13, 18, 22 Aug 1932, 9 June 1933, 11, 12 Jan, 14, 18 Feb 1935, 30 Mar 1938, 16, 19, 25 Sept 1944, 6 Aug 1957, 18 Jan 1966
  • Herald (Melbourne), 17 Jan 1966
  • Age (Melbourne), 18 Jan 1966
  • ABC Archives (Melbourne)
  • private information and personal knowledge.

Citation details

Robert Trumble, 'Lambert, Raymond Edouard (1908–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lambert-raymond-edouard-10776/text19109, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 14 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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