Composers Datebook®

Diamond's Second

David Diamond (1915-2005) — Symphony No. 2 (Seattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, cond.) Delos 3093


Composer's Datebook - October 13, 2021

2:00


October 13, 2021

Synopsis

On today’s date in 1944, a 29-year-old American composer named David Diamond had his Second Symphony premiered by the Boston Symphony under the famous Russian conductor Serge Koussevitzky.

Diamond says he had written this music for the charismatic Greek maestro Dimitri Mitropoulos, then the music director of the Minneapolis Symphony. “Mitropoulos had given a fine performance of my First Symphony,” said Diamond. “When I showed him the score of the Second he said, ‘you must have the parts extracted at once!’ As these were readied, I asked him whether he was planning to perform the work. He then told me he thought he would not stay on in Minneapolis, but said, ‘Why don’t you send it to Koussevitzky?’ I did so, and Koussevitzky [invited me to a] trial reading at Symphony Hall. When it was over, the orchestra applauded like crazy. Koussevitzky turned to me and said, ‘I will play!’”

Successful as Diamond was back in 1944, for many decades thereafter his neo-Romantic symphonic scores were neglected until Gerard Schwartz’s CD recordings of some of them with the Seattle Symphony sparked a revival.  By then, Diamond was in his 70s, and commented: “The romantic spirit in music is important because it is timeless.”

Music Played in Today's Program

David Diamond (1915-2005) — Symphony No. 2 (Seattle Symphony; Gerard Schwarz, cond.) Delos 3093

On This Day

Births

  • 1864 - Russian composer Alexander Grechaninov, in Moscow (Gregorian date: Oct. 25);

  • 1912 - Moravian-born American composer Hugo Weisgall, in Ivancice, Czechoslovakia;

Deaths

  • 1694 - German composer and trumpeter Johann Christoph Pezel, age c. 55, in Bautzen;

  • 1979 - English composer Rebecca Clarke, age 93, in New York City;

Premieres

  • 1855 - Brahms: Piano Trio No. 1 in B (first version, European premiere?), in Danzig (Germany); The American premiere occurred just one month later, on Nov. 27, 1955, at Dodworth's Hall in New York City, with violinist Theodore Thomas, cellist Carl Bergmann, and pianist William Mason; For many years, the American performance was claimed as the first performance anywhere; A recent Grove dictionary cites this earlier Danzig performance, but does not indicate if it was a private reading or public performance;

  • 1917 - Mussorgsky (arr. Cui): opera "The Fair at Sorochinsky," posthumously, in St. Petersburg (Gregorian date: Oct. 26);

  • 1944 - David Diamond: Symphony No. 2, by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky, conductor;

  • 1945 - Martinu: Symphony No. 3, by the Boston Symphony, Serge Koussevitzky conducting;

  • 1958 - William Kraft: "Nonet" for brass and percussion, in Los Angeles;

  • 1968 - Allan Pettersson: Symphony No. 7, in Stockholm;

  • 1977 - Andrew Imbrie's "Concerto for Flute" at New York Philharmonic concert with Julius Baker as the soloist.

  • 1982 - Bernstein: opera-house version of "Candide," at Lincoln Center by the New York City Opera;

  • 1991 - Daniel Asia: "Black Light" for orchestra, at Carnegie Hall in New York by the American Composers Orchestra, Dennis Russell Davies conducting;

  • 1994 - James MacMillan: "Memento" for string quartet, at Merkin Hall in New York City, by the Kronos Quartet;

  • 1998 - Kancheli: Piano Quartet ("L'istesso tempo), in Seattle, by the Bridge Ensemble