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"The one thing about Lenny's music which was so tremendously important was that there always was a kinetic motor. There was a power in the rhythms of his work which had a need for it to be demonstrated by dance."
-Jerome Robbins on Leonard Bernstein's music

Bernstein broadened his musical palette when he met the dancer-turned-choreographer Jerome Robbins in the fall of 1943. Intrigued by the conductor/composer, Robbins asked Bernstein to write the music for his next ballet. Following the success of Fancy Free in 1944, the two legendary figures collaborated to create two more masterful ballets: Dybbuk and Facsimile, and two hit Broadway musicals: West Side Story and On the Town.

In 1971, Bernstein invited the accomplished choreographer Alvin Ailey to choreograph his Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers, which was composed for the inaguration of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

In addition to these works, many choreographers around the globe have found inspiration in Bernstein's concert works, on which to set their own choreograhy.

BALLETS

Fancy Free (1944)
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Commissioned by Ballet Theatre
World Premiere: 18 April 1944 / (Old) Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY / Ballet Theatre Orchestra / Leonard Bernstein, conductor

Facsimile: Choreographic Essay for Orchestra (1946)
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Commissioned by Ballet Theatre
World Premiere: 24 October 1946 / Broadway Theatre, New York, NY / Leonard Bernstein, conductor

Other Versions:

  • Parallel Lives (1986), Gerard Charles, choreographer, Milwaukee Ballet
  • Dancing On (1988), Peter Breur, choreographer, First Performance: Croatian National Theater, Zagreb, Yougoslavia / Vjekoslava Suteja, conductor
  • Bernstein Dances (1998), John Neumeier, choregrapher, The Hamburg Ballet, Germany

Dybbuk (1974)
Choreography by Jerome Robbins
Commissioned by the New York City Ballet
World Premiere: 16 May 1974 / State Theater, Lincoln Center, New York, NY / New York City Ballet / Leonard Bernstein, conductor

Other Versions:

  • Suite of Dances (from The Dybbuk Variations), Jerome Robbins, choreographer, First Performance: 17 January 1980 / State Theater, Lincoln Center, New York, NY / New York City Ballet / Robert Irving, conductor
  • Leah (2001), Alexei Ratmansky, choreographer
  • Verweile doch... (2018), Kim Brandstrup, choreographer, First Performance: 27 Oct 2018 / Saarländischen Staatstheaters, Saarbrücken, Germany / Nathan Blair, conductor

CHOREOGRAPHED CONCERT WORKS (Selected List)

Dates for these works are premieres of the choreography, not the date of the original composition. Performances without listed conductor used recordings.

Candide

  • Songs arranged for orchestra (1984), Richard Tanner, choreographer, First Performance: 12 September 1984 / Pennsylvania Ballet
  • And Now This (1988), Margo Sappington, choreographer, First Performance: Aurora, IL / Hubbard Street Dance Company
  • Bernstein Dances (1998), John Neumeier, choreographer, First Performance: Hamburg, Germany / The Hamburg Ballet
  • Farewell (2017), Matthew Neenan, choreographer, First Performance: 7 August 2017 / Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, CO / members of the Brooklyn Rider string quartet / Cameron Grant, pianist / Lauren Lovette, Joseph Gordon, Roman Mejia, James Whiteside, Misa Kuranaga, and Carla Korbes, dancers
  • Candide Overture (2018), Lincoln Jones, choreographer, First Performance: 2 August 2018 / Los Angeles, CA / American Contemporary Ballet

Chichester Psalms

  • Psalms (1980), Robert Gladstein, choreographer, First Performance: 22 April 1980 / San Francisco Ballet / Denis De Coteau, conductor
  • Psalms (1980), Kim Tuttle, choreographer, First Performance: Florida / Dance Alive National Ballet
  • Chichester (1980), Judith Wombwell, choreographer, First Performance: Memphis, TN / Memphis Concert Ballet
  • Chichester Psalms (1990), Timothy Josephs, choreographer, First Performance: Wisconsin Ballet School
  • Chichester Psalms (1992), Richard Gain, choreographer, First Performance: North Carolina School of the Arts
  • Psalms (1992), Michael Lichtefeld, choreographer, First Performance: Indianapolis Ballet Theater
  • Rush Hour (1994), Paul Gorden, choreographer, First Performance: Second Hand Dance
  • Chichester Psalms (2004), Peter Martins, choreographer, First Performance: 2 June 2004 / New York State Theater, New York, NY / New York City Ballet
  • Yugen (2018), Wayne McGregor, choreographer, First Performance: 15 March 2018 / Royal Opera House, London, United Kingdom / The Royal Ballet

Divertimento

  • Divertimento (1986), Beth Berdes, choreographer, First Performance: 19 October 1986 / Milwaukee Ballet
  • Dancing On (1988), Peter Breur, choreographer, First Performance: Croatian National Theater, Zagreb, Yougoslavia / Vjekoslava Suteja, conductor
  • Turkey Trot (1990), Danny Buraczeski, choreographer, First Performance: Minnesota Symphony
  • Birthday Dances (1990), John Neumeier, choreographer, First Performance: Copenhagen, Denmark / The Hamburg Ballet
  • Square One (1991), Trey McIntyre, choreographer, First Performance: Houston Ballet
  • On Ice (1991), Barbara Flowers, choreographer, First Performance: Oregon Symphony
  • Divertimento (1994), Valerie Aris, choreographer, First Performance: Pforzheim, Germany
  • Divertimento (1996), Micha van Hoeke, choreographer, First Performance: Reggio Emilia, Italy / Aterbaletto

MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers
Choreography by Alvin Ailey
World Premiere: 8 September 1971 / John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC / Gordon Davidson, director / Maurice Peress, conductor

Other Versions:

  • MASS (1974), Howard Hanger, choreographer, First Performance: 15 February 1974 / University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
  • Excerpts from MASS (1988), Kim Tuttle, choreographer, First Performance: Florida / Dance Alive National Ballet

On the Town and On the Waterfront (excerpts)

  • Zeit.Punkt (2012), Silvana Schröder, choreographer, First Performance: 6 January 2012 / Theater & Philharmonie Thüringen, Gera, Germany / Thuringen Ballett / Jens Troester, music director

Piano Trio

  • Farewell (2017), Matthew Neenan, choreographer, First Performance: 7 August 2017 / Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, CO / members of the Brooklyn Rider string quartet / Cameron Grant, pianist / Lauren Lovette, Joseph Gordon, Roman Mejia, James Whiteside, Misa Kuranaga, and Carla Korbes, dancers
  • Three Plus One (2018), Larry Keigwin, choreographer, First Performance: 3 February 2018 / Valley Performing Arts Center / Northridge, CA / Keigwin + Company

Prelude, Fugue and Riffs

  • Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (1969), John Clifford, choreographer, First Performance: 15 May 1969 / New York City Ballet / Robert Irving, conductor
  • Patrasolifutricatramerif (1978), Michael Uthoff, choreographer, First Performance: University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA / Hartford Ballet / Robert Gutter, conductor
  • Kansas City Original - Opus Hot (1979), Ronald Sequoio, choreographer, First Performance: Kansas City, MO / Kansas City Philharmonic / Frank Collura, conductor
  • Prelude Fugue and Riffs (1984), Edward Villella, choreographer, First Performance: Oklahoma City, OK / Ballet Oklahoma
  • Awesome (1987), Robert Small, choreographer, First Performance: New York, NY / Robert Small Dance
  • And Now This (1988), Margo Sappington, choreographer, First Performance: Aurora, IL / Hubbard Street Dance Company
  • PF&R (1991), Courtland Weaver, choreographer, First Performance: Marzena, WA
  • Flash Point (1991), Jonathan Hollander, choreographer, First Performance: New York, NY / Battery Dance
  • Cityscape (1992), Linda Spriggs, choreographer, First Performance: Ann Arbor, MI / University Productions
  • Blue & Gold (1993), Stephen Greenstone, choreographer, First Performance: Memphis, TN
  • PF&R (1994), Darrly Gray, choreographer, First Performance: Indiana Ballet Theater
  • SF/LB (2004), Daniel Ezralow, choreographer, First Performance: 4 November 2004 / Chicago, IL / Hubbard Street Dance Theater / Chicago Symphony Orchestra / David Robertson, conductor
  • Easy (2018), Justin Peck, choreographer, First Performance: 3 May 2018 / David H. Koch Theater / New York, NY / New York City Ballet

Serenade (After Plato's Symposium)

  • Serenade (1959), Herbert Ross, choreographer, First Performance: 13 June 1959 / Spoleto, Italy / American Ballet Theatre / Salvatore Accardo, violin / Carlo Franci, conductor
  • Voyager (1984), Todd Bolender, choreographer, First Performance: Kansas City, MO / Kansas City Ballet / Denis De Coteau, conductor
  • Serenade Aterballetto, Torino, Italy
  • Ariadne & Theseus (1987), Edward Desoto, choreographer / Boston Conservatory
  • Agathon (1989), Donlin Foreman, choreographer / Martha Graham Company
  • Serenade (1996), Christopher D'Amboise, choreographer / Royal Flanders Ballet/
  • Serenade (1996), Bruno Jacquine, choreographer / École Supérieure Cannes
  • Bernstein Dances (1998), John Neumeier, choreographer / The Hamburg Ballet, Germany
  • Corybantic Ecstasies (1999), Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer, First Performance: March 1999 / Shubert Theater, Boston, MA / Boston Ballet
  • Kaddish-Serenade (2009), Lode Devos, choreographer, First Performance: Chemnitz, Germany / Ballett Chemnitz
  • Serenade (2014), Ralf Dörnen, choreographer, First Performance: Theater Vorpommern, Germany
  • Serenade after Plato's Symposium (2016), Alexei Ratmansky, choreographer, First Performance: 16 May 2016 / Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY / American Ballet Theater
  • Corybantic Games (2018), Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer, First Performance: 15 March 2018 / Royal Opera House, London, United Kingdom / The Royal Ballet

Sonata for Clarinet and Piano

  • A Place for Us (2013), Christopher Wheeldon, choreographer, First Performance: 8 May 2013 / David H. Koch Theater, New York, NY / New York City Ballet
  • Tranquil Night, Bright and Infinite (2017), Claudia Schreier, choreographer, First Performance: 8 August 2017 / Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, CO / Unity Phelan, clarinet / Isabella Boylston, Jared Angle, Cameron Dieck, and Da'Von Doane, dancers
  • Sonata (2018), Larry Keigwin, choreographer, First Performance: 3 February 2018 / Valley Performing Arts Center / Northridge, CA / Keigwin + Company

Sonata for Violin and Piano

  • Farewell (2017), Matthew Neenan, choreographer, First Performance: 7 August 2017 / Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, Vail, CO / members of the Brooklyn Rider string quartet / Cameron Grant, pianist / Lauren Lovette, Joseph Gordon, Roman Mejia, James Whiteside, Misa Kuranaga, and Carla Korbes, dancers

Songfest

  • Songfest (1979), John Neumeier, choreographer, First Performance: 22 December 1979 / Hamburg, Germany / Hamburg State Opera Ballet / Klauspeter Seibel, conductor

Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story"

  • Bernstein Dances (1998), John Neumeier, choreographer, First Performance: Hamburg, Germany / The Hamburg Ballet

Symphonic Suite from "On the Waterfront"

  • Symphonic Suite (1964), Hal Grego, choreographer, First Performance: March 1964 / Brooklyn Academy of Music, NY
  • Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront (1991), Courtland Weaver, choreographer, First Performance: Marzena, WA
  • A Streetcar Named Desire (1987), Kim Tuttle, choreographer, First Performance: Florida / Dance Alive National Ballet
  • Ambulations (1990), Rich Rahn & Ed Riffell, choreographers, First Performance: Grand Rapids, MI / Grand Rapids Ballet
  • Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront (1994), Reagan Messer, choreographer, First Performance: Massachusetts
  • Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront (1997), Margo Sappington, choreographer, First Performance: Boston Dance Company
  • Presto Barbaro from On the Waterfront (1984), John Curry, choreographer, First Performance: 25 July 1984 / Metropolitan Opera House, New York, NY / John Curry Skating Company / Charles Barker, conductor
  • Waterfront (2014), Larry Keigwin, choreographer, First Performance: 7 May 2014 / John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts / Washington, DC / Keigwin + Company
  • Souvenirs aus West und Ost (2018), Robert North, choreographer, First Performance: 12 July 2018 / Theater Mönchengladbach / Germany / Andreas Fellner, music director

Symphony No. 1: Jeremiah

  • Jeremiah (1948), Eleanor King, choreographer, First Performance: 15 February 1948 / YMHA, New York, NY / Choreographer's Workshop

Symphony No. 3: Kaddish

  • Kaddish (1980), János Marcus, choreographer, First Performance: Györ, Hungary
  • Kaddish-Serenade (2009), Lode Devos, choreographer, First Performance: Chemnitz, Germany / Ballett Chemnitz

Symphony No. 2: The Age of Anxiety

  • The Age of Anxiety (1950), Jerome Robbins, choreographer, First Performance: 26 February 1950 / City Center of Music and Drama, New York, NY / New York City Ballet / Nicholas Kopeikine, piano / Leon Barzin, conductor
  • The Age of Anxiety (1979), John Neummeier, choreographer, First Performance: Hamburg, Germany / Hamburg State Opera Ballet / Justus Frantz, piano / Klauspeter Seibel, conductor
  • Age of Anxiety (2006), Ralf Dörnen, choreographer, First Performance: Theater Vorpommern, Germany
  • The Age of Anxiety (2014), Liam Scarlett, choreographer, First Performance: 7 November 2014 / The Royal Opera House, London, UK / The Royal Ballet

Take Care of This House from "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue"

  • Rock Around Barouck (1996), Ben van Cauwenbergh, choreographer, First Performance: 17 June 1996 / Wiesbaden, Germany / Wiesbaden Ballet

Three Dance Episodes from "On the Town"
Other than original show choreography by Jerome Robbins

  • And Now This (1988), Margo Sappington, choreographer, First Performance: Aurora, IL / Hubbard Street Dance Company
  • Stepping Out (1990), Christian Holder, choreographer, First Performance: Columbus, OH / Columbus Symphony, OH
  • Three Dance Episodes from On the Town (1991), Berth Burns, choreographer, First Performance: California / St. Joseph Dance School
  • Three Dance Episodes from On the Town (1991), Ernie Tolentino, choreography, First Performance: Pittsburgh Ballet School
  • Three Dance Episodes from On the Town (1994), Jean-Pierre Bonnefous, choreographer, First Performance: Chautauqua, NY
  • Bi-Motion (2014), Gregor Zöllig, choreographer, First Performance: 2014 / Tanztheater Bielefeld, Germany
  • Episodes (2014), Larry Keigwin, choreographer, First Performance: 7 May 2014 / John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts / Washington, DC / Keigwin + Company

Three Meditations from "MASS"

  • The Commitment for solo dancer (1979), John Butler, choreographer, First Performance: 6 May 1979 / Kansas City, MO / Kansas City Philharmonic / Judith Jamison, dancer / Paul Tobias, cello / Maurice Peress, conductor

West Side Story

  • West Side Story Suite (1995), Jerome Robbins, choreographer; Co-choreographed by Peter Gennaro, First Performance: May 18, 1995 / New York State Theater / New York, NY / New York City Ballet

Various

  • I Never Dreamed It Could Be Like This (2017), Robert J. Priore, choreographer, First Performance: 17 January 2018 / The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts / Washington, DC / Company E
  • Bernstein Dances (1998), John Neumeier, choreographer, First Performance: Hamburg, Germany / The Hamburg Ballet
  • A Tribute to Leonard Bernstein (2018), Chieko Imada and Mary Beth Cabana, choreographers, First Performance: 3 February 2018 / Stevie Eller Dance Theater / Tucson, AZ / Ballet Tucson

We have assembled a playlist of Bernstein's music specifically for choreographers! Listen below on Spotify: