Divertimento for Band (Persichetti)
This work has been identified for inclusion in the Small Band Repertoire Initiative. You may find discussion of the work's challenges and merits under the Discussion tab above. You may also contribute your own thoughts and recommendations by joining the WRP.
This work bears the designation Opus 42.
Duration: c. 10:50
Difficulty: V (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Oliver Ditson Company (Theodore Presser)
Cost: Score and Parts - $160.00 | Oversize Full Score Only - $50.00 | Full Score Only - $16.00 | Condensed Score Only - $8.00
1. Prologue - 1:20
2. Song - 2:00
3. Dance - 1:00
4. Burlesque - 1:50
5. Soliloquy - 2:10
6. March - 2:00
Oboe I-II (II doubling English Horn)
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Percussion I-II-III, including:
- Bass Drum
- Snare Drum
- Suspended Cymbal
- Wood Block
- Bass Clarinet, mvt.IV: Rehearsal number 65 is in the wrong place (there are only four measures between 65 and 70)
Divertimento was premiered by The Goldman Band on June 16, 1950, with the composer conducting. The composition was started during the summer of 1949 in El Dorado, Kansas. In stories related to various sources, Persichetti began writing the work with a clash between choirs of woodwinds and brass, with a timpani "arguing" with them. After looking at this, he realized that the strings were not going to become a part of this piece. In an article from 1981 Persichetti stated:
I soon realized the strings weren't going to enter, and my Divertimento began to take shape. Many people call this ensemble "band." I know that composers are often frightened away by the sound of the word "band", because of certain qualities long associated with this medium -- rusty trumpets, consumptive flutes, wheezy oboes, disintegrating clarinets, fumbling yet amiable baton wavers, and gum-coated park benches! If you couple these conditions with transfigurations and disfigurations of works originally conceived for orchestra, you create a sound experience that's as nearly excruciating as a sick string quartet playing a dilettante's arrangement of a nineteenth-century piano sonata. When composers think of the band as a huge, supple ensemble of winds and percussion, the obnoxious fat will drain off, and creative ideas will flourish.
It is because of the scoring of this work and the attitude the composer showed in the creation of the work which Frederick Fennell felt was new for the "band" medium.
Divertimento started out as an orchestral work, but as the woodwind, brass and percussion figures evolved, composer Vincent Persichetti eliminated the idea of incorporating strings. The resulting piece has been described as “alternating between a sense of mischief and a poignant vein of nostalgia” and has become one of the most widely performed works in the entire wind band repertoire.
- Program Note by William V. Johnson for the San Luis Obispo Wind Orchestra concert program, 19 March 2011
The Divertimento is one of Persichetti’s lightest and most entertaining works. It was written in a log cabin schoolhouse in Kansas in 1949 and premiered in New York City with the composer conducting in 1950. In a June 1980 letter to Frederick Fennell, founder of the famed Eastman Wind Ensemble, Persichetti explained that family friends had given him the cabin one summer to write a new work for full orchestra. He explained that as he wrote the brasses tossing the woodwinds about while the timpani was commenting here and there, something strange was happening. He began to realize that the strings were NEVER going to come in. So thus was created the composer's first work for band!
The six short movements demonstrate rhythmic and contrapuntal savoir-faire blended neatly with tongue-in-cheek humor and lyrical nostalgia. The work is still one of Persichetti’s most popular compositions.
- Program Note from Lee University Wind Ensemble concert program, 11 October 2016
- Audio CD: Tokyo Kosei Wind Ensemble (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 2002
- Audio CD University of Michigan Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor)
- Audio CD University of North Texas Wind Symphony (Eugene Migliaro Corporon, conductor)
- Audio CD Winds of the London Symphony (David Amos, conductor)
- Florida: VI
- New York: VI
- North Carolina:
- Grade VI: may omit one movement
- Masterworks: play all
- III: play two movements
- IV: play Movement 1 plus three movements
- V: Complete
To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project
- Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Symphony Band (Jason Gardner, conductor) - 26 March 2023
- Queen's University (Kingston, Ont., Can.) Wind Ensemble (Dan Tremblay, conductor) - 26 November 2022
- University of Illinois (Champaign/Urbana) Wind Orchestra (Barry Houser, conductor) - 7 October 2022
- California State University Northridge Wind Ensemble (Lawrence Stoffel, conductor) - 28 April 2022
- Bowling Green (Ohio) State University Concert Band (Bruce Moss, conductor) - 3 December 2021
- Indiana University (Bloomington) Concert Band (Jason Nam, conductor) - 5 October 2021
- University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Wind Ensemble (Glenn Hayes, conductor) - 25 November 2020
- Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.) Symphonic Band (Shawn Vondran, conductor) – 13 March 2020
- Humboldt State University (Arcata, Calif.) Wind Ensemble (Paul Cummings, conductor) – 28 February 2020
- Penn State University (University Park) Symphonic Band (Dennis Glocke, conductor) – 26 February 2020
- Oklahoma State University (Stillwater) Symphonic Band (Douglas Henderson, conductor) – 25 February 2020
- Ball State University (Muncie, Ind.) Wind Ensemble (Thomas Caneva, conductor) – 8 February 2020
- Eastman School of Music (Rochester, N.Y.) Wind Orchestra (Lindsay Bronnenkant, conductor) – 4 December 2019
- Marietta (Ohio) College Wind Ensemble (Christopher Schletter, conductor) – 20 November 2919
- Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Symphonic Band (Kirk Saville, conductor) – 1 November 2019
- State University of New York Potsdam Concert Band (William L. Lake, Jr.)– 10 October 2019
- Washington State University (Pullman) Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Angelina Gomezm, conductor) – 2 October 2019
- University of Jamestown (N.D.) Wind Ensemble (Laura Lynch, conductor) – 27 April 2019
- Texas Christian University (Fort Worth) Symphonic Band (Brian Youngblood, conductor) – 18 April 2019
- Gettysburg (Penn.) College Wind Symphony (Margaret Underwood, conductor) – 12 April 2019
- Eastman Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 17 December 1954
Works for Winds by This Composer
- Bagatelles for Band (1961)
- Celebrations (1966)
- Chorale Prelude: O God Unseen (1984)
- Chorale Prelude: So Pure the Star (1963)
- Chorale Prelude: Turn Not Thy Face (1963/1968)
- Divertimento for Band (1953)
- A Lincoln Address (1959/1974)
- Masquerade for Band (1965)
- O Cool Is the Valley (1971)
- O God Unseen. See: Chorale Prelude: O God Unseen
- Pageant (1953)
- Pageant (ed. Tokke) (1953/c. 2019)
- Parable IX (1972)
- Pastoral (1943/1951)
- Psalm for Band (1953)
- Serenade for Band (1960)
- Serenade No 1 (1929/1963)
- Serenade No. 11. See: Serenade for Band
- So Pure the Star
- Symphony for Band (1956)
- Belser, Robert Steven. (1994). "Original works for concert band premiered or commissioned by Edwin Franko Goldman, Richard Frank Goldman, and The Goldman Band, 1919-1979." D.M.A. dissertation. University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.
- Erdmann, Thomas R. (1996) “Vincent Persichetti’s Divertimento for Band: A Rehearsal Analysis.” Journal of the Conductor’s Guild 17, no. 1 (Winter-Spring) 1996); pp. 41-47
- Fennell, Frederick. “Vincent Persichetti: Divertimento for Band.” BDGuide 1 (September-October 1984): 12–21. Reprinted in A Conductor’s Interpretive Analysis of Masterworks for Band. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications, 2008. pp. 6–15.
- Fraschillo, Thomas. (1994). "Conducting Persichetti's Divertimento: An Interpretive Analysis." The Instrumentalist 48(12), 16-20.
- Lourens, Alan. Divertimento for Band. MBM Times, Issue 6 (2012), 65.
- Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 633-644.
- Morris, Donald Alan (1991). "The life of Vincent Persichetti, with emphasis on his works for band." Ph.D. dissertation. Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL.
- Persichetti, V., and Shackelford, R. (1981). "Conversation with Vincent Persichetti." Perspectives of New Music 20(1), 104-133.