The film was adapted from a novel by John Steinbeck and featured famous Hollywood stars. But it was not a commercial success, and Copland's practical nature led him to recast the musical material for concert purposes. The Suite is in six sections with titles that match the action of the film. Although the melodies have a folklike quality, they are Copland's own. Unusual instrumental colors derive from the dramatic action of the film. As Copland pointed out, "This was not your typical Western with gunmen and Indians."
-Vivian Perlis, 1998