Robert Washburn (1928-2013) was a distinguished American composer and teacher who spent his entire career as a professor at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam in New York state. A New York native, he did his early studies at Crane and completed his doctorate at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Howard Hanson, Bernard Rogers, and Alan Hovhaness. Later teachers included Darius Milhaud and Nadia Boulanger. He received many awards, including a Ford Foundation Fellowship and a residence at the MacDowell Colony. His more than 150 published compositions have performed around the world. In addition to his composing activities, he was also a specialist in the music of Africa and Asia.
The Concertino is a chamber work for 10 instruments: a woodwind quintet and a brass quintet. It was written in 1965 for his colleagues at Crane. As the score says:
This work was commissioned by the Julia E. Crane Alumni Association of the State University College at Potsdam, New York, and first performed in January, 1966, at the New York State School Music Association conference by the Crane Woodwind Quintet and the Crane Brass Quintet (Harry I. Phillips, John Schorge, Directors).
It is cast in two movements. The first begins with a languid theme passed between the two ensembles. This turns spritely in the allegro, a rondo which centers on a mixed meter dance treatment. The second is a theme and variations. The woodwinds get the first word, with an extended statement of the theme. The several variations follow, ranging from martial to pointilistic.
The recording below, by a US military band, gives a rough sketch of the piece, with a second clarinet replacing the oboe:
See more about Washburn at the Crane website (he was honored repeatedly when he died), North Country Public Radio, and Last.fm. For more on the Concertino, see ArkivMusic (home to a real recording) and Boosey & Hawkes.