Three Dance Episodes from "On The Town" (arr Lavender)

From Wind Repertory Project
Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Bernstein (trans. Paul Lavender)

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General Info

Year: 1944 / 2016
Duration: c. 10:30
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Boosey & Hawkes
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $325.00   |   Score Only (print) - $45.00


1. The Great Lover - 1:50
2. Lonely Town (Pas de Deux) – 3:05
3. Times Square: 1944 - 5:00


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
English Horn
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
Bass Trombone
String Bass
Percussion I-II-III

(percussion detail desired)


None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

On the Town is a musical with music by Leonard Bernstein and book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green, based on Jerome Robbins' idea for his 1944 ballet Fancy Free, which he had set to Bernstein's music. The musical introduced several popular and classic songs, among them New York, New York, Lonely Town, I Can Cook, Too (for which Bernstein also wrote the lyrics), and Some Other Time. The story concerns three American sailors on a 24-hour shore leave in New York City during wartime 1944. Each of the three sailors meets and quickly connects with a woman.

On the Town was first produced on Broadway in 1944 and was made into a film in 1949, although the film replaced all but three of the original Broadway songs with Hollywood-written substitutes. The show has enjoyed a number of major revivals. The musical integrates dance into its storytelling: Robbins made a number of ballets and extended dance sequences for the show, including the Imaginary Coney Island ballet.

- Program Note from Wikipedia

Fancy Free was the proving ground for a revolutionary type of musical theater in which dance took its place as an integral part of the narrative. Bernstein and Jerome Robbins soon decided to expand the ballet's scenario into a Broadway musical called On the Town. The composer teamed up with his friends Betty Comden and Adolph Green, who supplied a book and lyrics based on Robbins's straightforward plot of three sailors during wartime. The sailors are spending their 24-hour shore leave searching for love and adventure in the Big Apple.

While they fleshed out the story, Bernstein composed an entirely new score. His enthralling mélange of jazz-fueled dance, boogie-woogie, tender ballads, and energetic ensembles -- all of course a valentine to New York -- hit just the right note and launched his brilliant career as a composer of Broadway shows. Bernstein distilled the essence of On the Town, which was centered around dance, into a compact concert suite. The first episode (The Great Lover Displays Himself) occurs as part of a dream sequence in which the sailor Gabey indulges in a fantasy about his ideal woman inspired by a subway poster (Miss Turnstiles). This brief, snappy number, with its prominent trombone part, gives a flavor of Bernstein's idiosyncratic approach to jazz idioms, spiced with a touch or two of Stravinsky.

Gabey's romantic side comes to the fore in the bluesy shades of Lonely Town; as he despairs of finding his true love in the anonymous, cold-hearted city. It's a great example of a basic dualism found in much of Bernstein's music: complex passages of nervous energy are typically set against disarmingly spellbinding melodies that evoke a lost American innocence. In the final episode (Times Square: 1944) -- from the finale to the musical's first act -- Bernstein spells out the infectious tune subliminally heard in the first episode: New York, New York, the signature hit of On the Town. A brilliant series of variations on the tune's up-and-down shape sound out a metaphor for the untiring, sexy energy of the American city.

- Program Note from State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Symphony concert program, 28 February 2018

Writes Bernstein,

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. [...] The story of On the Town is concerned with three sailors on 24-hour leave in New York, and their adventures with the monstrous city which its inhabitants take so for granted.

The first episode is Dance of the Great Lover, in which the romantic sailor Gabey falls asleep on the subway and dreams of sweeping Miss Turnstiles off her feet; the effervescent music underlines Gabey’s naiveté as well as his determination. In the second episode, Pas de Deux, Gabey watches a scene, “both tender and sinister, in which a sensitive high-school girl in Central Park is lured and then cast off by a worldly sailor.” This is set to Lonely Town -- one of Bernstein’s greatest tunes, worthy of his friend and mentor Aaron Copland in its air of reflective melancholy. The finale, Times Square Ballet, is described by Bernstein as “a more panoramic sequence in which all the sailors congregate in Times Square for their night of fun.” Part of the action takes place in the Roseland Dance Palace, with music to match. The famous New York, New York, it’s a helluva town theme makes a cameo appearance.

- Program Note from Notes for Slava! & Three Dance Episodes,


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Austin (Tx.) Civic Wind Ensemble (Robert Laguna, conductor) - 21 May 2023
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Symphony (Donna Dolson, conductor) - 26 April 2022
  • Middle Tennessee State University (Murfreesboro) Wind Ensemble (Matthew George, conductor) – 14 February 2020
  • Illinois State University (Normal) Wind Symphony (Joe Manfredo, conductor) – 22 September 2019
  • Ringgold Band (Reading, Penn.) (Charles Ebersole, conductor) – 23 April 2019 (ACB 2019 Annual Convention (Woodcliff Lake, N.J.))
  • Sacramento (Calif.) State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Robert Halseth and Santiago Sabado, conductors) – 13 February 2019
  • University of Texas (Austin) Wind Ensemble (Tiffany Galus, conductor) – 4 November 2018
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Jason K. Fettig, conductor) – 31 October 2018 (Pickerington, Ohio)
  • Sacramento (Calif.) State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Matthew Morse, conductor) – 10 October 2018
  • Maryland Winds (Glenelg) (Timothy Holtan, conductor) - 9 October 2018
  • Texas Woman's University (Denton) Wind Symphony (Carter Biggers, conductor) – 6 October 2018
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Wind Symphony (David Waybright, conductor) – 27 September 2018
  • Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond) Wind Symphony (Derek Stoughton, conductor) - 24 September 2018
  • University of Colorado Boulder Wind Symphony (Donald J. McKinney, conductor) – 20 September 2018
  • Foothill Symphonic Winds (Palo Alto, Calif.) (David Buce Adams, conductor) - 10 June 2018
  • University of North Texas (Denton) Symphonic Band (Dennis W. Fisher, conductor) – 26 April 2018
  • Sonoma State University (Rohnert Park, Calif.) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Andy Collinsworth, conductor) – 21 March 2018 (CBDNA 2018 Western/Northwestern Conference, Rohnert Park, Calif.)
  • State University of New York, Fredonia, Wind Symphony (Donna Dolson, conductor) – 28 February 2018
  • Wayne (Neb.) State College Wind Ensemble (David Bohnert, conductor) – 27 February 2018
  • United States Marine Band (Washington, D.C.) (Ryan J. Nowlin, conductor) – 4 February 20187

Works for Winds by This Composer

Adaptable Music

  • Cool (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Murtha) (1957/2018)
  • West Side Story (Flex instrumentation) (arr. Sweeney) (1957/2015)

All Wind Works


  • Cummings, Paul, "Three Dance Episode from "On the Town"." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 11, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 1061-1073. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2018.
  • On the Town (Musical), Wikipedia.
  • Perusal score