The French word "divertissement" means the enjoyment of entertainment. Initially, three hundred years ago, under this name began to appear separate musical pieces or entire collections of plays and entertainment.
A very large spread of such divertissements received in the XVIII century. Most of them were composed for chamber ensemble or small orchestra, in several parts. Divertissements wrote French, German, Italian composers. And now in concerts you can hear the divertissements of Haydn or Mozart.
And since the nineteenth century, the term acquired a slightly different meaning. This was the name of the music, similar to potpourri. Simultaneously with such pure music divertissements, France appeared divertissements musical stage. They were false, mostly ballet, but sometimes vocal episodes in plays and drama or Opera.
One of the first such divertissements appeared in Moliere's Comedy "forced Marriage". The music for this ballet Divertissement wrote the court composer to Louis XIV, Jean-Baptiste Lully. Known for his divertissements and other pieces of the famous French playwright.
Sometimes divertissements make up the whole entertainment view, some kind of a concert inside the play. So is Divertissement in the second act of the ballet P. I. Tchaikovsky "the Nutcracker".
P. I. Tchaikovsky. Divertimento from the 2nd act of the ballet "the Nutcracker"