Jazz Calendar

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Jazz Calendar is a ballet created in 1968 by Frederick Ashton to the music of Richard Rodney Bennett. The ballet was first performed on 9 January 1968 by The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, with designs by Derek Jarman.[1] The work was performed over 50 times up to 1979 by the Royal Ballet at Covent Garden but is not part of the current repertoire.[2] It was also produced in October 1990 at the Birmingham Hippodrome by Birmingham Royal Ballet.[3]


The production was arranged at short notice to replace a new production of Aida, and at the suggestion of Nigel Gosling, Ashton asked Derek Jarman to create the designs.[4]

Richard Rodney Bennett’s score had been commissioned by the BBC and composed between 1962 and 1964[5]. It encompasses a variety of traditional jazz forms and devices, from twelve-bar blues (in Friday's Child) to a fast jazz waltz (in Thursday's Child). Written "for 12 instruments," the scoring is flute, alto-, tenor-, and baritone saxophone, horn, two trumpets, bassoon, trombone, drums, piano, bass.[6] The music is dedicated to the singer Jean Hart.

The rehearsals for the ballet's premiere were filmed at the Royal Opera House involving many of the original principals.[7] The full score was recorded in 1971 by the London Jazz Ensemble conducted by John Lanchbery (Philips 6500 301).

Original cast[edit]


The scenario, based on the children’s poem Monday's Child[1] follows the sequence of the poem. After Monday (a "hymn to narcissim"), Tuesday is a pas de trois in a style of Ashton's Monotones. Wednesday’s woe is in the form of a "distortion of the Rose Adagio" from The Sleeping Beauty, Thursday depicts various forms of transport, Friday is a blues pas de deux. Saturday is a send-up of a male ballet class, while the finale mimicked the 'stage revolve' close of Sunday Night at the London Palladium.[4]


  1. ^ a b Vaughan D. Frederick Ashton and his Ballets. A & C Black Ltd, London, 1977.
  2. ^ Bland A. The Royal Ballet – the first 50 years. Threshold Books, London, 1981.
  3. ^ About The House, Winter 1991, p4-5.
  4. ^ a b Kavanagh J. Secret Muses: The Life of Frederick Ashton. Faber & Faber Ltd, London, 1996.
  5. ^ http://www.universaledition.com/Richard-Rodney-Bennett/composers-and-works/composer/47/work/2956
  6. ^ Fox C. Programme note for Philips recording, 6500 301, 1972.
  7. ^ British Film Institute website: http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/538970, accessed 24 December 2010.
  8. ^ Williams P, Percival J, Goodwin N. Jazz Calendar (premiere reviews). Dance and Dancers, February 1968; 19:2, p12-17, 22.