Opus number: 15

Title: Miniature Diversions

Instrumentation: piano

Date written: 1982-83, January 2, 1983, American Academy in Rome

Length: six minutes

Dedicatee: To Andrea Olmstead

Premiere performance: Larry Bell, pianist, March 31, 1983, American Academy in Rome

Important subsequent performances: Penelope Roskell, July 1983, University of Keele, UK; February 29, 1984, Bell at The Boston Conservatory; Michael Dewart, March 1986, Bell-Bartlett Concerts, First and Second Church, Boston; Bell, November 6, 1987, at The Boston Conservatory

Recordings: tapes of Larry Bell Boston performances, 1984 and 1987 at The Boston Conservatory library

Program notes:


Rhythm Study

Imaginary Hymn


The Miniature Diversions consist of four pieces written in four days between December 20 and January 4, 1983. They are dedicated to Andrea Olmstead as a first wedding anniversary gift. The first performance was on 31 March 1983 at the American Academy in Rome, played by the composer.

The Serenade is like a two-part invention which uses inversion. They Rhythm Study is sub-titled “Laying Bricks” because of the overlapping metric structure: The right hand plays in 5/4, the left in 7/4. The Scherzino is also arranged this way. The Imaginary Hymn is an original tune that floats above the wistful slow movement. The Hymn is parodied in the next piece, Scherzino. The pieces were designed as compositional exercises for the Fantasia on an Imaginary Hymn for ‘cello and viola.

Reviews: “Bell is a skilled craftsman who deftly blends serial techniques with more conventional methods of expression. He has a gift for melody, a sense of wit and a feeling for continuity. All were evident in four ‘Miniature Diversions’ for piano and in a ‘Fantasia on an Imaginary Hymn’ for viola and cello.” –Arthur Hepner, The Boston Globe (March 5, 1986)