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Elizabeth Jean Lamberton

September 23, 1954 - March 1, 2016


Musicologist (PhD, UBC).  Faculty Member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Beloved teacher, colleague, mentor and friend.

It is with much sadness that the friends of Elizabeth Lamberton announce her passing in Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, on Tuesday, March 1, in her 62nd year.  Born in Regina, Saskatchewan, to Harry and Helen Lamberton, Elizabeth lived most of her adult life in White Rock, where both her parents predeceased her.  She was without other immediate family, but thrived in her wide circle of devoted friends, which included colleagues, students, caregivers, neighbours, and others of long standing.

Throughout her three-and-a-half years living with cancer, with all of its ups and downs, Elizabeth maintained a strong will to live and a strong sense of hope. She was always a joy to be with.  Her laughter and her love for her friends were infectious.  Her determination was an inspiration to all who met her.

In an email message last year Elizabeth wrote: “My “secret” is actually the love and support of my friends, who surround me with the encouragement and positive “vibes” that keep me thriving.  You are, collectively and individually, “the wind beneath my wings.””

During the summer of 2014, Elizabeth created her own description of her musical beginnings in Saskatchewan, her subsequent studies in British Columbia, and the unfolding of her professional career.  This follows in the next three paragraphs.

“Dr. Lamberton began piano studies at age four with her mother, and achieved her A.Mus (Western Board) at age eighteen, winning the silver medal. She completed her B.Mus. with a major in piano at the University of Regina, where she received the University Prize in Arts. She continued her studies at the University of British Columbia, where her focus shifted to musicology, resulting in her M.A. thesis on Brahms's piano quintet in 1978 and her Ph.D. dissertation on the writings of the nineteenth-century French music critic Ernest Reyer in 1988.

“Dr. Lamberton's life was shaped by her profound commitment to teaching.  She began as a sessional lecturer at UBC in 1989, and joined the music department at KPU in 1993, where she taught music history until illness forced her withdrawal from teaching in 2012. Elizabeth was very involved in the life of the department, and served a term as Chair of the B.C. Post-Secondary Music Forum.

“Dr. Lamberton's research led to the presentation of papers on Reyer at chapter meetings of the American Musicological Society and at a national meeting of the Canadian University Music Society, as well as to an article on Reyer for the Dictionnaire Berlioz (Paris, 2003).  She was active in the arts community as a speaker and a writer on music. In 2001 she was invited by the Vancouver Recital Society to give pre-concert talks and to write program music notes, activities she continued for several years. Elizabeth also cultivated an interest in early music, writing articles for Musick (the quarterly journal of Early Music Vancouver), and serving as a member of the Editorial Committee for nearly a decade.”

In 2013, Elizabeth established a substantial endowment from her estate to provide two annual scholarships at the UBC School of Music, one for a graduate student in historical musicology, the other for an undergraduate or graduate student in vocal performance or opera.  The rewards reflect, respectively, her own field as well as her deep and abiding love of the human voice.   

In his announcement of a testimonial to Elizabeth on the UBC School of Music website, Richard Kurth, Director of the School, recognized Elizabeth’s “quietness and charm, her gentle brilliance”.  He wrote: “Her love of music, knowledge, and scholarship were immediately evident to anyone who met her, and she was an inspiring teacher and mentor to her many students over the years.  She was a person of gracious intelligence and true kindness, and I am grateful that she was a part of our community, as a student and as a faithful and enthusiastic alumna.  We will remember her with joyful appreciation of her talents and character.”

The Bereavement Announcement at Kwantlen Polytechnic University included the following appreciation of her contribution to teaching: “Although Elizabeth was a historical musicologist, writer, and editor, her zeal was for the front of the classroom. She was passionate about teaching and her heart and face lit up when she spoke about her students. Her students were her family. And her kindness towards them was demonstrated in very practical ways. For example, every Friday she brought treats for those in her music history class. She cared deeply about her students and was always open to those needing assistance in their studies or guidance in their careers.  She was an inspiring teacher and mentor to her many students over the years. Flags will be lowered on all Kwantlen Polytechnic University Campuses on Monday, March 7th in memory of Dr. Lamberton.”

Elizabeth requested that there be no memorial service. Donations in her memory can be made to Peace Arch Hospital, which cared for Elizabeth at crucial stages of her illness, or to a charity of your choice.

Please feel free to leave your remembrances of Elizabeth on the Wiebe & Jeske website, or visit her testimonial page on the website of the UBC School of Music.





Send a condolence, light a candle and/or share a memory, click "Send Condolence". Once your message has been approved by the moderator it will be posted to the website.

From: Wiebe and Jeske Funeral Home Staff

Wiebe and Jeske Funeral Home Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Ruth (Cowie) Fisher
Relation: Elizabeth's babysitter

I remember Elizabeth as the sweetest little girl and next door neighbour. I was her babysitter many times and her favorite thing was to play Barbie Dolls and show me her weekly piano lesson. She was a delicate little thing but so sweet and was loved so dearly by her parents, Helen and Harry.

From: Joseph M. Krush, Ph. D.
Relation: We were fellow students.

Elizabeth and I were fellow students at both the U of R and the UBC Music Departments in the 1970’s. I lost track of her after that, but I do have memories of Elizabeth to share.

Elizabeth was the most devoted student that I ever knew. She sacrificed all social life and all recreational activities for the sake of scholarship. I joked to other students that she was the only person that I ever knew who even studied for her blood test! She earned top marks in every subject, and upon graduation, she won the University of Regina Fine Arts Award.

In Regina, she was well-known as a superb pianist. Her performance of Debussy’s “Reflets Dans L’eau” matched those of recording artists. For her graduation, she presented a lecture recital on Gabriel Faure and his Nocturnes. Here again, her performances of these were superb. Many of us thought that she would go on to earn a Master’s degree and a D.M.A. in piano performance, but we did not know that she excelled in musicology even more.

Those who knew her at UBC knew of her exceptional work in musicology. While still a master’s student, she became a Corresponding Editor of Current Musicology. She was extremely humble, but her unusually high grades and her numerous scholarships and awards spoke for themselves. It is my guess that had she remained healthy, she would have continued working well past the age of 65, perhaps even into her seventies, eighties, or even nineties. Her life was her work, and her work was her life.

From: Michele Antonello
Relation: Student at Kwantlen College

Belated condolensces to the busiest woman I ever met. Dr. Lamberton, you made history come alive; your class was the most interesting part of my education; your pedagogical skills were superb. You always took the time to discuss strange quirks of musical composers, with a twinkle in your eye. You were so quick to laugh, and your energy, as you wrote across the black board, and spoke, was breathtaking; how could one tiny woman contain so much knowledge, and vitality? Your passing comes as a complete shock. I think of you so often as I teach, and have always hoped to be able to pass as much on to my students as you did to yours. You were an excellent example of all that a teacher should be.

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