top of page

Leonard Bernstein: "Divertimento"

Leonard Bernstein


  1. Sennets and Tuckets

  2. Waltz

  3. Mazurka

  4. Samba

  5. Turkey Trot

  6. Sphinxes

  7. Blues

  8. In Memoriam; March, “The BSO Forever”

Leonard Bernstein

Born: August 25, 1918, Lawrence, Massachusetts

Died: October 14, 1990, New York, New York

Original Instrumentation: Symphony Orchestra

Composed: 1980

Transcribed: 1980, Clare Grundman

Duration: 14 minutes

University of Maryland Wind Ensemble

Friday, December 9, 2016, 8:00 pm

Elsie & Marvin Dekelboum Concert Hall

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

The University of Maryland at College Park

Leonard Bernstein’s Divertimento is an expression of his love affair with the city of his youth and its symphony orchestra, for whose centennial celebration in 1980 it was written. It is a nostalgic album filled with affectionate memories of growing up in Boston, as well as a recollection of hearing live symphonic music for the first time in Symphony Hall, under the direction of Arthur Fiedler (which may account for some of the lighthearted nature of this work).

It is a series of vignettes based on two notes: B, for “Boston,” and C, for “Centennial.” This tiniest of musical atoms is used as the germ of all thematic ideas. Most of these generate brief dances of varying character, from wistful to swaggering.

Sennets and Tuckets, (a Shakespearean stage direction for fanfares) was originally to have been the entire composition, but such an abundance of fun-filled transformations flowing from the B-C motive suggested themselves to the composer that he found himself with an embarrassment of riches. Nevertheless, the dimensions of the separate pieces are as modest as the motive itself, and while there are eight of them, each lasts only a minute or two.

The work is replete with allusions to the repertoire with which Mr. Bernstein grew up in Symphony Hall, some quite obvious, others rather more secret messages for the orchestra players themselves. (To reveal one of these secrets, the opening section of the final March is a quiet meditation for three flutes, marked in the score “In Memoriam,” recalling the beloved conductors and orchestra members of the BSO who are no longer with us.

Like the original orchestral version, Clare Grundman’s band transcription features various soloists and small groups within the band: a Waltz and Mazurka for woodwinds only, a Blues for brass and percussion.

Bernstein’s Divertimento was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on September 25, 1980, at Symphony Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, under the direction of Seiji Ozawa.

- program note by Jack Gottlieb

Leonard Bernstein, Divertimento, tr. Clare Grundman

University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble, Scott Weiss, conductor

Additional Resources:

Leonard Bernstein, Divertimento for Orchestra Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Leonard Bernstein, conductor

featured posts:
search by tags:
No tags yet.
recent posts:
bottom of page