Lambert, John (Arthur Neill)
- Stephen Pettitt
(b Maidenhead, July 15, 1926; d Brighton, March 7, 1995). English composer. After studies at the RAM and the RCM (1943–50) and, privately, with Boulanger in Paris, Lambert was at different times director of music at the Old Vic Theatre (1958–62), organist of St Vedast-alias-Foster in the City of London (1949–77), and professor of composition at the RCM (1963–90), where he set up, in the face of a notoriously conservative establishment, an Experimental Music Group. Widely considered as one of the most influential of British composition teachers, his many eminent pupils include Julian Anderson, Oliver Knussen, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Simon Bainbridge, all of whom pay lavish tribute to his influence and his insistence on a refined and thorough approach to creativity. Partly because of this insistence and because of his commitment to teaching, his own music is limited in quantity, its wider dissemination prevented both by his inability to cement long-lasting relationships with publishers and by the related difficulty of securing repeated performances. But its high quality, its economy of means, its clarity and its intellectual integrity are widely recognized. His influences include Dutilleux, Boulez and Ligeti. Like those composers, he was intrigued by the play of textures, by block contrasts, and above all perhaps by processes of quasi-ritualistic transformation. Often that transformation will take the form of a disintegration which builds to something new. In ...