In 1948 several woodwind players asked me to write a work for woodwind quintet. On looking over some earlier quintet works, I found the composers were in the habit of overlooking the fact that each of these instruments has a different sound. I, on the other hand, was particularly struck by this, and so decided to write a work that would emphasize the individuality of each instrument and that made a virtue of their inability to blend completely.
The first performance of the Quintet was a radio broadcast on February 21, 1949 in New York, with the first concert performance following six days later. Carter Hamm in The New York Times called it an "attractive piece which had profile and telling use of woodwind textures."