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Robert Irving



Robert Augustine Irving, (28 August 1913 – 13 September 1991) was a British conductor whose reputation was mainly as a ballet conductor.

Born in Winchester, England, the son of mountaineer and author R. L. G. Irving, he was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, graduating with a degree in music. He also studied with Malcolm Sargent and Constant Lambert at the Royal College of Music from 1934 to 1936.

During the Second World War he served with the Royal Air Force, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross and bar.

He then became assistant conductor with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and was conductor and musical director of Sadler’s Wells Ballet from 1949 to 1958. From 1958 to 1989 he served as music director of the New York City Ballet, where he worked extensively with the choreographer George Balanchine. For many years he conducted the New York City Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker, a task he repeated in the 1958 U.S. telecast of the ballet.

His recordings include the five-movement suite from Constant Lambert’s ballet Horoscope (1953).

He died in his birthplace in 1991, aged 78. A small memorial plaque to him may be found on the north-east wall of Winchester College chapel cloisters.

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