APM: Composers Datebook

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Jul 13, 2019 Today is Bastille Day, and on today’s date in 1900, the Opera-Comique in Paris premiered a patriotic opera entitled “La Marseillaise,” which melodramatically depicted how, on a spring night during the French Revolution, Rouget de l’Isle supposedly wrote the words AND music for the song which later became the French National Anthem. The opera has been long forgotten, but its composer, the French-born Lucien-Leon-Guillaume Lambert, JUNIOR.—alongside his father, the American-born composer Charles-Lucien Lambert, SENIOR —is getting some renewed attention. Both are included in a landmark new reference work: The International Dictionary of Black Composers, published by the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College in Chicago. The elder Lambert was born in New Orleans around 1828, and was a contemporary and friendly rival of the famous piano virtuoso and composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk. The elder Lambert settled in Brazil, and njoyed an internation career in both Brazil and France, performing and publishing his piano dances and salon pieces, and often appearing in concert with his son. Lucien Lambert, Jr. was born in France in 1858, and studied with Jules Massenet, among others. He won the prestigious Concours Rossini competition, and enjoyed a productive career in France and Portugal, composing ballets, concertos, and several operas—including the one that premiered in Paris on today’s date in 1900. He died in Portugal in 1945.

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