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[#74] December 21, 2020

1888 | Double wind quintet | Grade 5 | 20’-25’ | Chamber music

British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams in memory of Donald Hunsberger

Divertissement Op. 36 by French composer Émile Bernard is our Composition of the Week.

We would like to go back to our series of chamber music works for winds to help you with some ideas in your programming for the upcoming concerts during the fall.

This double wind quintet is an old favorite and has become a cornerstone of the literature for winds from the late romanticism.

Like many other works from that period, Bernard constructs his Divertissement using the technique of cyclic form. The piece was finished in 1888 (the same year when another noted French composer, César Franck, finished his Symphony in D minor, also using the cyclic form procedure) Divertissement is dedicated to their commissioners the “Société de musique de chambre pour instruments à vent” founded by Paul Taffanel some years before, in 1879.

The French term divertissement is often used to identify an instrumental composition written in a light vein and used primarily for entertainment. Closely related to the divertissement is the serenade. The writing is fresh and virtuosic and has a delicious and charming effect. Divertissement has a duration of around 20 minutes, and it is cast in three movements.

Jean Émile Auguste Bernard was a French Romantic composer and organist. He was born in Marseille and studied at the Paris Conservatoire. His was organist at the Notre Dame des Champs from 1885 until his retirement. As a composer, he was the author of several symphonic and vocal works as well as piano and organ pieces. Although he has distinguished himself on the field of chamber music. He obtained the 1889 Chartier Institute Award for his production in this domain.


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