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Career as a composer for the stage during the 1950s

Such was Constant Lambert's enthusiasm for The Hollow Men that in 1950 he recommended ApIvor to Sadler's Wells Theatre Ballet, of which he was then artistic director. ApIvor's first ballet commission, an adaptation of Esther Forbes' A Mirror for Witches with the choreographer Andrée Howard (pictured below, on the far right), received its premiere at the Royal Opera House in March 1952. The work’s horrifying scenario, dealing with witch-burning and devil worship in seventeenth century Brittany, brought forth highly dramatic music from the composer in an often astringent, modern-sounding idiom, which suited the subject matter perfectly. ApIvor's second collaboration with Howard, The Goodman of Paris (based on a Medieval tale, Le Ménagier de Paris), was a less substantial twenty-minute work, first performed under the title, Vis-à-vis, in September 1953 by the short-lived Walter Gore Ballet company at the Prince's Theatre in London.

It was ApIvor's musical realisation of Federico García Lorca's tragedy Blood Wedding, in 1952, which brought him the greatest critical approval. This time the composer worked with the South African choreographer, Alfred Rodrigues, carefully adapting Lorca's dialogue to produce a ballet of considerable colour and vitality. Once again, ApIvor was not afraid to employ a contemporary idiom, successfully blending an expressionistic serial language with a hint of Spanishry. Rodrigues's exciting dances and Isabel Lambert's stage décor, which included a striking moon back-cloth, added to the atmosphere. Blood Wedding was hugely successful in its day and had the longest run of all ApIvor's ballets. The work toured the UK between 1953 and 1955, visiting, among other places, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh. During the early 1960s the ballet wa up by a number of independent companies, leading to performances in Copenhagen, Düsseldorf, Münster, Vienna and Gelsenkirchen. It was revived briefly by Covent Garden in May 1968.