Walter Lambe

(c.1450/51-after Michaelmas 1499)

Engliah composer. Of the three leading Eton choirbook composers, Walter Lambe's music has a little more in common with that of such older composers as Horwood and Banester than has Browne's or Davy's: there is often a very limited use of imitation, cadence practice is a little more old-fashioned, and once or twice there are very old-fashioned sonorities as at 'peperisti' in Nesciens mater with its prominent open fifths. Lambe's music is remarkable for showing several correspondences with that lesser tradition of the late fifteenth century.

A Walter Lambe from Salisbury, clearly the composer, was elected King's scholar at Eton in 1467; he was aged fifteen the year before, and so was born in 1450 or 1451. Lambe was installed as a clerk at St George's, Windsor in 1479, and held the post of master of the choristers jointly until 1480 and on his own from 1482 to 1484. He then probably sought further advancement elsewhere, because his name does not appear in the records again until 1492. After that year the records are very incomplete, but he was still a clerk in 1499-10.

Lambe's music shows an imagination and technical mastery exceeded only by Browne's. His achievement is very diverse; for example, he wrote the longest antiphon in the Eton choirbook, O Maria plena gratia, and one of the shortest, Nesciens mater.. More important, his antiphons display opportunity for brilliant vocal display and i,aginative counterpopint.

A Partial Walter Lambe Discography  |  IV M: England Through 1635   |   Latin Church Music 1460-1575: The Composers