The Lambert Family

There were many free black and creole composers and musicians of New Orleans before the Civil War that moved to Europe to escape increasing racial tensions that not only were getting in the way of their careers, but their existence.  Charles Lucien Lambert Sr, (1828-1896) was born to Charles Richard Lambert, musician and early teacher of Dédé.  Like his friend and contemporary Louis Gottschalk, Lucien Sr. went to Paris by the mid-1850s.  There he began to have many pieces published and celebrated: the publisher of his piano “Variations et Final sur I ‘air Au clair de la lune,” Op. 30 (1859) had to reprint it five times to meet its sales. 

Charles Lucien moved his family to Brazil sometime in the 1860s. In Rio de Janeiro he opened a piano and music store and taught music, eventually becoming a member of the Brazilian National Institute of Music. In 1869, Gottschalk arrived in Rio for a series of spectacular appearances. Lucien’s son, Lucien Jr., then not yet a teenager, and his father both performed in at least one of Gottschalk’s monster concerts, in which thirty-one pianists played simultaneously. Lucien Sr. eventually became a good friend of the family of the Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934) as well as his first professional teacher. 

His son, Lucièn Léon Guillaume, born in 1858 and died in 1945, became more well known than his father. Lucièn Léon returned to France, became a pupil of Theodore Dubois and Jules Massenet. In Spain his music became so famous that he was decorated by the King. He was to work on a larger scale than his father, producing ballets, symphonic music, choral works and a large amount of instrumental music. Along with his half brother Sydney Lambert, he had a career in Portugal, serving in the royal court. He was later to teach in Paris, but spent the latter part of his life in Portugal where he died.