Diversions and Distractions – Early Classical music for home entertainment both personal and celebratory centered around the lighthearted divertimento. With no set form or instrumentation, divertimenti ran the gamut from intimate duos to miniature orchestra: think of Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’, often performed as a string quartet but equally successful in an expanded ensemble. Symphonies were often arranged and published for home performance, as in Salomon’s version of Haydn’s “Surprise” symphony for flute and strings. Smaller works for less conventional, even whimsical combinations – as in Dittersdorf’s charming duo for viola and bass – were surprisingly common. While the flexible string quartet’s expressive capabilities and efficiency ultimately led it to dominate home musicales, it climbed there on the shoulders of the divertimenti that preceded it.
** Please note: Diversions & Distractions is presented as part of the PhilaLandmarks Concert Series.