List of Works || Divertimento No. 5

Divertimento No. 5 (1961)

1. Fast
2. Slowly, expressively
3. Moderately Fast

Solo Trumpet, Solo Trombone, Flute (2), Piccolo, Oboe (2), English Horn, Clarinet (2), Bass Clarinet, Bassoon, Contra-bassoon, Horn (4), Trumpet (2), Trombone (2), Tuba, Timpani, Percussion

Duration: 13 minutes, 30 seconds

First Performance: 9 June 1961, Pittsburgh, PA; James Austin, Philip Jameson, American Wind Symphony, Robert Boudreau

Divertimento No. 5 was premiered on a floating barge in the Allegheny River that flows through Pittsburg, PA; Weinzweig joked that the work was his “water music.” The work was commissioned by Robert Boudreau and the American Wind Symphony, who performed it at the “Creative Spirit of Canada” Music and Arts Festival in 1961. This is the only divertimento in Weinzweig’s series for concert band accompaniment. Critics have hailed Weinzweig’s avoidance of a bombastic sound; Norbert Carnovale exclaimed that the work is “a refreshing change in a lean piece which is contemporary but not avant garde.”

Like the preceding Divertimenti, Divertimento No. 5 employs the three-movement fast-slow-fast outline of the original Classical genre. The work highlights two soloists—trumpet and trombone—through mostly unaccompanied duet passages or sparse accompaniment, creating a strong contrast in texture and timbre between the soli and tutti sections. While neoclassical in form and Baroque in texture, the pitch content of Divertimento No. 5 is based on serial technique. Weinzweig uses one tone row for the first two movements and a second row for the final movement. He maintains significant similarities between the two rows, including keeping the same first hexachord. Weinzweig frequently explores hexachordal relationships without feeling compelled to complete the row.

Written by Alexa Woloshyn