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Constant Lambert (1905-1951)

A gifted family moving in artistic and bohemian circles.

Constant was part of a remarkable and creative family. His father – the impressively named George Washington Lambert – was a painter, and his older brother Maurice was a sculptor. Constant made a significant impact on English music during his short life, dying two days before his 46th birthday after years of ill health.

Constant Lambert painted portrait Constant, painted by Christopher Wood in Paris in 1926. Constant was working on the ballet Romeo and Juliet, commissioned by Diaghilev, and Picasso had recommended Wood as the ballet’s designer. (Credit: National Portrait Gallery, London)

He was a gifted composer, strongly influenced by jazz, who surrounded himself with creative people. He wrote copiously for orchestras and ballets, and set poetry to music. He was also musical director of the Vic-Wells, later the Sadler’s Wells, one of the world’s leading dance venues.

In 1931, Constant married Florence ‘Flo’ Chuter, a very young and beautiful actress. Flo’s exotic looks are variously ascribed to African-American or Indonesian heritage.

Florence Chuter Florence Chuter gave her name as ‘F. Kaye’ on her marriage certificate and claimed to be 18, but she may have been even younger. (Credit: National Portrait Gallery, London)

The couple had a son Christopher, known as Kit (1935-1981), but the marriage was not destined to last. Constant and Flo divorced after he had an affair with the famous ballet dancer, Margot Fonteyn.

Constant and Flo in 1933 Constant and Flo in 1933, two years after their marriage. (Credit: National Portrait Gallery, London)

Although Kit stayed with his mother after the divorce, he did follow his father into the music industry. Kit was a manager and promoter, best remembered for managing the famous rock group, The Who, and for signing the Jimmi Hendrix Experience to his record label. Like his father, Kit struggled with alcohol and also tragically died in his forties.

Further information

Constant Lambert's grave

Constant and Kit are remembered on the same large gravestone, while Flo’s smaller memorial stands in front. (Credit: Greywolf)

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