Charles Lucièn Lambert Sr. (1828-1896)

Charles Lucien Lambert
Charles Lucien Lambert
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Charles Lucièn Lambert, Sr., also known as Lucièn Lambert, Sr., was an internationally prominent classical musician and composer, and part of the middle generation of acclaimed Lambert musical artists.  Both his father, Charles-Richard Lambert, and his son, Lucièn-Léon Guillaume Lambert, had distinguished careers in classical music.

Charles Lucièn Lambert was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1828 to Charles-Richard, a native of New York, and an unidentified free Creole woman of color. After Charles Lucièn’s mother’s death, Charles-Richard married Coralie Suzanne Orzy, another free woman of color. They had a son, Sidney, who was born in 1838. Charles Lucièn and Sidney received their first piano lessons from their father who was by then a prominent early 19th Century New Orleans musician and composer.

Charles Lucièn Lambert was a contemporary of the soon to be famous white Creole composer and musician, Louis Moreau Gottschalk.  In fact the two enjoyed a friendly artistic rivalry as aspiring virtuoso pianists and composers in New Orleans in the late 1840s and early 1850s.

Despite his promise as a young musician, Charles Lucièn Lambert had eventually to find work outside the United States because of hostility toward mixed-race Creoles and blacks in antebellum New Orleans. He moved to France in 1853 and the following year, while living in Paris, published his first musical composition, “L’Angélus au monastère: Prière,” for piano. His second major composition, “Variations et Final sur l’air Au clair de la lune, Op. 30,” appeared in 1859 and was reprinted five times to meet its sales demand.  During this period, Charles Lucièn Lambert married a French woman and the couple had a son, Lucièn-Léon Guillaume Lambert, who was born just outside Paris in 1858.

Sometime in the early 1860s, Charles Lucièn Lambert relocated to Brazil with his family. He settled in Rio de Janeiro, opened a piano and music store, and taught music. Lambert eventually became a member of the Brazilian National Institute of Music, the most prestigious organization of its kind in that nation.

In 1869, Louis Moreau Gottschalk arrived in Rio de Janeiro for a series of concerts.  Charles Lucièn and his son, Lucièn-Léon, then only eleven, performed in one of Gottschalk’s spectacular concerts in which 31 pianists played simultaneously.

Charles Lucièn Lambert spent the rest of his life in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He befriended the influential family of the young but soon to be famous Brazilian composer Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934), becoming his first professional teacher.

Charles Lucièn Lambert died in Rio de Janeiro in 1896.