The Glasgow-born composer Buxton Orr gave up a career in medicine in the early 1950s to study composition with Benjamin Frankel and conducting with Aylmer Buesst. His early professional work was in films (Karloff horrors, Suddenly Last Summer) and in the theater (including the original production of Flowering Cherry).
Later his compositions included songs, chamber music, works for brass and wind band, orchestral music and a one-act opera The Wager staged by the New Opera Company at Sadler's Wells in 1961 and subsequently broadcast. In 1965 he joined the staff of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and in 1975 founded the Guildhall New Music Ensemble. Between 1970 and 1980 he was the conductor of the London Jazz Composers' Orchestra, touring England and Europe and taking part in the 1972 Berlin Jazz Festival.
He has received commissions from Glasgow University, the Saltire Society, the Park Lane Group, the BBC (1979 Bath Festival), Radio Scotland, the City of London Festival and Merseyside Arts.
His interest in music theatre led to his writing Unicorn, The Last Circus, and Ring in the New, the latter during his period as Composer-in-Residence and Associate Director of the Music Theatre Studio Ensemble at the Banff Centre for Fine Arts in Canada, and for which he and Michael Bawtree were awarded the Seagrams Prize of the American National Theatre Network in 1988.
In 1990 Orr gave up regular teaching to devote more time to composition and remained active until is death on December 27th 1997.