Copland knew that other music for the gala opening of Philharmonic Hall would be traditional. He said, "I preferred to compose a work expressing something of the tensions, aspirations, and drama inherent in contemporary living." In order to do this, he employed a personalized kind of serialism. The result was an abstract piece that is intense and dramatic in nature. It includes special percussion effects as well as a piano solo. Copland dedicated the piece to the players of the New York Philharmonic.
-Vivian Perlis, 1998