The title Aubade héroïque
recalls Debussy, whose Berceuse héroïque
for piano, written during the 1914–18 war, was dedicated to the King of the Belgians and his soldiers. Lambert’s piece was also war-inspired. Its date is 1942 and it is inscribed ‘to Ralph Vaughan Williams on his 70th birthday’. It is a recollection-in-tranquillity of a dramatic incident of two years earlier, when the Sadler’s Wells Ballet (of which Lambert was Musical Director) was marooned for a few days in Holland when the Germans invaded in May 1940. It must have been a terrifying experience; Lambert and his colleagues barely escaped with their lives. Lambert explained, in a note on the score, ‘This short piece was inspired by a daybreak during the invasion of Holland, the calm of the surrounding park contrasting with the distant mutterings of war’.
from notes by Christopher Palmer © 1992