Leonard Bernstein

Fancy Free

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Leonard Bernstein's ballet Fancy Free was given its premiere by New York's Ballet Theatre on April 18, 1944, and, with Jerome Robbins appearing in it and choreographing, it was a sensation. The ballet was set in a bar and began with a Billie Holiday song playing on the jukebox. A group of sailors on leave from World War II then competed for the attentions of women -- a very contemporary subject. Decca Records took the initiative in recording the music with the ballet's orchestra under Bernstein's direction, later adding a newly recorded Holiday performance instead of the record heard in the production. Bernstein's music comes through forcefully in its jazz/classical hybrid; some passages reappeared in his Broadway musical adaptation, On the Town, which followed later in 1944.

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