A lighthearted spin through the world of music, Robbins takes audiences on a tour of the orchestra where dancers personify various instruments.
When Princess Elizabeth was to be crowned Queen of England in 1953, George Balanchine wanted Jerome Robbins to create a ballet for a celebratory evening. Robbins chose Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra for a large ensemble work, Fanfare. Britten based his composition on variations and a fugue from a rondeau from Henry Purcell’s incidental music for the play Abdelazar, and it has become a favorite work for both educating and entertaining. The piece begins with the full orchestra introducing the theme, which is then played individually by various instruments in turn, starting with the woodwinds, and moving on to the strings, brass, and percussion. In Fanfare, the dancers each represent an instrument, and Robbins’ choreography cleverly distills the essence of an instrument — from the harp to the tuba — into movement.