Obituary: Edward Warburg
Friday 16 October 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.
- 1 Exodus Gods and Kings: Ridley Scott never considered casting 'Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such' in lead role
- 2 This letter from a reader explains why women can’t play football
- 3 'You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me': 4-year-old sends adorable love letter to girl at school
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
- 5 Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, GAME, PC World and Argos
Miss Honduras Maria Jose Alvarado's stylist Luis Alfredo Garcia is found stabbed to death
Sean Abbott: Messages of support flood in for bowler following death of batsman Phil Hughes
Kim Jong-un proves 'in dire need of allies' within his own government as younger sister appointed to senior role
Dr Lam Hoe Yeoh: Voyeur doctor jailed for eight years after using network of hidden cameras to film patients, colleagues and friends on the toilet
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Rochester aftermath: Sacking of Emily Thornberry will make work of Labour MPs '10 times harder'
£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...
£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...
VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...