program notes by composition > D > "Danzon" from Fancy Free

”Danzon” from Fancy Free

Leonard Bernstein / arr. John Krance

”Danzon” is the Third Sailor’s Dance from the 1944 ballet Fancy Free composed by Leonard Bernstein in collaboration with choreographer Jerome Robbins. Influenced by Cuban dance style, “Danzon” captures the sensual mood of the intense and emotional ballet movement.

The ballet is set in a bar and sidewalk in New York, in wartime. Three boisterous sailors on liberty head outside looking for female companionship. A beautiful girl passes by and is pursued by two of the sailors. The third sailor invites another beautiful passer-by to have a drink with him and they dance a passionate pas de deux. The other characters soon return and dance. The sailors brawl and the girls flee. The sailors pick themselves up and resume the their quest.

Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990) was a famous American pianist, composer, educator and conductor. His compositions include operas, ballets, masses, jazz, concertos, musicals, movie music and symphonies. He studied at Harvard and the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He shot from obscurity to international celebrity literally overnight on November 14, 1943 after stepping in on very short notice for the indisposed Bruno Walter to conduct a Sunday afternoon concert of the New York Philharmonic.

Bernstein was long associated with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra where he made over half of his more than 400 recordings. His fame derived from his long tenure as music director there, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, from his many compositions, including West Side Story , and from his extraordinary 53 educational Young People’s Concerts and lectures in the new medium of television. Erudite, flamboyant and controversial, he attracted notice for his energetic conducting style, his open bi-sexuality, his politics and his outspokenness.

Last updated on November 11, 2018 by Palatine Concert Band