PROGRAMME NOTES

Juilliard Dances

Allegro - Adagio - Allegro (1959)
Flute (piccolo), clarinet, bassoon, trombone, piano, cello and percussion

These three dances were written when the composer was a post-graduate student at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, when he was absorbing some of the American influences found in his mature works such as the Concertos for Organ (1971), for Piano (1984), and for Violin (1986). Dickinson was one of three composers at Juilliard invited to write music for an abstract dance which already existed. This was an experiment in reversing the normal process of ballet choreographed to existing music.  The three composers spent many evenings watching the dancers and plotting  their scores. Finally the ballet was given three times with the three different scores in the same programme.

The dancers appeared in practice costumes and there was no set or scenario, so the music is not tied to a sequence of events. However, at the time the choreographer, William Hugg, suggested flashing traffic lights and New York's city bustle in the first dance; a rather unhappy pas de deux in the second one; and a cheerful party atmosphere in the jazzy final dance.

The premiere of the Juilliard Dances (originally just Three Dances) was on 13 May 1959 at the Juilliard School of Music. The first British performance was given by An Instrumental Ensemble under David Greer at the Barber Institute, University on Birmingham, on 27 February 1970.

© 2008-17 Peter Dickinson

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