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Bryan Kelly

Publisher: Novello & Co

Divertimento (1969)
Novello & Co Ltd
Band/Wind/Brass Ensemble
Year Composed
13 Minutes
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Programme Note
Bryan Kelly Divertimento (1969)
Bryan Kelly: Divertimento for Brass Band

“I like”, Bryan Kelly once remarked, “to write both serious and light music, and I like to feel that what I write is comprehensible to the average musical ear.” Nowhere are the composer’s admirable aims more clearly demonstrated than in this Divertimento.

Born in Oxford in 1934, Kelly studied at the Royal College of Music with Herbert Howells and Gordon Jacob, then with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He has taught in the USA (Washington, DC) and at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and for many years has been attached to the Royal College of Music, in London. His output includes orchestral, choral, chamber and recital works, apart from his major contribution to Brass Band repertoire.

Composed in 1969, the Divertimento was commissioned by the Scottish Amateur Music Association for the National Youth Brass Band of Scotland. Cast in four contrasting movements, this thirteen minute piece is thoroughly characteristic of the composer’s best brass writing; the textures open and lightly scored, the harmony distinctly tonal, but with many delightful and unexpected twists. In the Prelude, the vigorous opening Allegro subject is treated canonically, and gives plenty of opportunities for the band to show off its ensemble playing and the prowess of its soloists. The second movement is a stirring March, with an insistent side drum and timpani part, ending pp after an exciting climax. In the intermezzo which follows, solo Flugel, cornet, euphonium and soprano weave a filigree of melody over a sonorous and sometimes pungent harmonic background. The final allegro is entitled Scherzo: it is mainly in compound time, and can only be described as an agreeable romp from start to finish.

It is easy to see why this delightful work has proved such a favourite in concerts, contests and the recording studio ever since it appeared.

© 1986 Giles Easterbrook

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