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Leonard Bernstein’s first venture into musical theater was also his first venture onto the Broadway stage with On The Town, a wartime story about three sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City. Bernstein wrote of On The Town:

“It seems only natural that dance should play a leading role in the show On The Town, since the idea of writing it arose from the success of the ballet Fancy Free. I believe this is the first Broadway show ever to have as many as seven or eight dance episodes in the space of two acts; and, as a result, the essence of the whole production is contained in these dances. I have selected three of them for use as a concert suite:

1. Dance of the Great Lover (from the Dream Ballet, Act 2)

2. Pas de Deux (from the “Lonely Town” Ballet, Act 1)

3. Times Square Ballet (Finale, Act 1)


“That these are, in their way, symphonic pieces rarely occurs to the audience actually attending the show, so well integrated are all the elements by the master-direction of George Abbott, the choreographic inventiveness of Jerome Robbins, and the adroitness of the Comden-Green book. Their use, therefore, as concert material is rather in the nature of an experiment.”

The Three Dance Episodes, originally composed for orchestra, was transcribed for concert band in 1971 by Marice Stith for the Cornell University Wind Ensemble. Bernstein himself once conducted a performance of this band edition in 1975, which was broadcast on both radio and television (one of many events during that time which were staged to counter those dreary days when New York City neared bankruptcy).

— Program notes supplied by CSUN.