John Lanchbery

Born May 15, 1923 in London, England
Died February 27, 2003 in Melbourne, Australia


Born in England, immigrated to Australia


Modern 1920-Present


Arrangements: Don Quixote, Mayerling, The Tales of Beatrix Potter, The Tales of Hoffmann, The Merry Widow, Die Fledermaus

John Lanchbery


John Lanchbery was born in London in 1923. He began taking violin lessons and composing music when he was only eight years old! He received a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music, but had to postpone until the end of World War II. While at school, Lanchbery worked part-time with a music publishing company called Anglo Soviet Music Press. Anglo Soviet saw Lanchbery’s potential, and encouraged him to audition for the post of conductor with the Metropolitan Ballet.

Lanchbery quickly rose to fame as a ballet conductor. He succeeded at obtaining the post at the Metropolitan Ballet in 1948, and later became the conductor of Sadler’s Wells Theatre Ballet. In 1960, Lanchbery became conductor of the Royal Ballet and toured all over the world! His final conducting post began in 1972, when he accepted a position at the Australian Ballet.

Ballet was Lanchbery’s specialty in composing as well as conducting, since he often composed or arranged music for his ballet companies. He is most famous for creating ballets out of music that was originally written for another purpose. For example, he was the first composer to take music from an opera to create a ballet, which he did for the Tales of HoffmannThe Merry Widow, and Die Fledermaus. In another famous work called Mayerling, Lanchbery took piano music by Liszt, orchestrated it, and arranged it for ballet. Lanchbery also wrote some wonderful music of his own, including parts of Tales from Beatrix Potter, a ballet he arranged for TV based on classic children’s stories such as Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin.

Lanchbery died at his home in Melbourne, Australia on February 27, 2003. He is best remembered for his numerous arrangements for classical ballet.