Obituary: Edward Warburg

Edward Mortimer Morris Warburg, philanthropist, born White Plains New York 5 June 1908, married Mary Whelan Prue Currier, died Norwalk Connecticut 21 September 1992.

Edward Warburg is remembered with gratitude in the American dance community for having made possible, with Lincoln Kirstein, the transplantation of George Balanchine from Europe to the US in 1933, and the founding of the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet company, a precursor of the New York City Ballet. Although lacking previous exposure to ballet, Warburg allowed his friend Kirstein's enthusiasm to persuade him of its importance as a forum for the arts, and he lent his moral support and extensive financial backing to the early stages of Balanchine's enterprise.

The son of Felix Warburg, an investment banker and arts patron, he grew up in New York City. While attending Harvard University, Warburg, along with Kirstein, a fellow classmate, was instrumental in founding the Society for Contemporary Art, a forerunner of New York's Museum of Modern Art, in 1928. Warburg was to continue his work with the visual arts, briefly as a teacher, and then in various capacities at the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum Art in New York.

Warburg's own charming and self-deprecatory account of his role in the early days of Balanchine's entreprise, given in Francis Mason's book I Remember Balanchine: recollections of the ballet master by those who knew him (1991), conveys the free-wheeling, improvisatory character of those times.

Warburg was with Kirstein to meet Balanchine at the boat dock and to introduce him to New York, though they scarcely spoke a common language. He made himself generally useful in getting the School of American Ballet started, and found himself persuaded that he wanted nothing so much for his birthday as a first performance by the students in the open air at his family's estate in White Plains, New York. He became financial guarantor of the group's first tour, which collapsed at considerable cost to himself. Warburg conceived the libretto for one of Balanchine's first ballets in the US, an Ivy League college romp called Alma Mater. When Balanchine's American Ballet briefly became resident of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, Warburg paid for the first Stravinsky Festival, commissioning the score for Jeu de Cartes.

As a last gesture he persuaded Kirstein's father, the founder of Filene's department store in Boston, to give money to the young company.

After that Warburg turned his attention to the art world, to relief organisations and to Jewish philanthropic groups.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own