Composers Datebook®

Diamond and Thompson

Composer's Datebook - July 9, 2023


Today we note the birth and death anniversaries of two American composers of the 20th century.

On today’s date in 1915, American composer David Diamond was born in Rochester, New York. In 1940, Dmitri Mitropoulos, then the music director of the Minneapolis Symphony commissioned one of Diamond’s best-known works.  Mitropoulos had specifically asked him for an upbeat piece of music. “Write me a HAPPY work,” asked Mitropoulos. “These are distressing times ... make me happy!” The 29-year-old composer responded with his popular “Rounds for String Orchestra,” which Mitropoulos premiered in Minneapolis in 1944.

Also on today’s date, in 1984, the American composer and teacher Randall Thompson died in Boston at the age of 85. Randall Thompson wrote three symphonies and some fine chamber works, but HIS best-known piece of music is this choral setting of “Allelujah” which was first performed at the opening of the Berkshire Music Center at Lenox, Massachusetts, in the summer of 1940, when Thompson was 41 years old.

“[My ‘Alleujah’ is] a very SAD piece,” said Thompson. “Here it is comparable to the Book of Job, where it is written, ‘The Lord giveth and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’”

Music Played in Today's Program

David Diamond (1915-2005) Rounds (Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; Gerard Schwarz, conductor.) Nonesuch 79002 Randall Thompson (1899 – 1984) Alleluia (Robert Shaw Chamber Singers; Robert Shaw, conductor.) Telarc 80461

On This Day


  • 1879 - Italian composer Ottorino Respighi, in Bologna

  • 1915 - American composer David Diamond, in Rochester, N.Y.

  • 1938 - Japanese-American composer Paul Chihara, in Seattle


  • 1747 - Italian opera composer, Giovanni Bonocini, age 76, in Vienna; He was the famous (and unsuccessful) rival of Handel's for the favor of the opera-loving public in London

  • 1960 - American composer Edward Burlington Hill, age 87, in Francesrtown, New Hampshire

  • 1984 - American composer and teacher Randall Thompson, age 85, in Boston


  • 1957 - Hartmann: opera "Simplicius Simplicissimus" (revised version), in Mannheim at the Nationaltheater; This opera was premiered in a concert version in Munich by the Bavarian Radio on April 2, 1948

  • 1969 - Lennox Berkeley: Symphony No. 3, in Cheltenham, England

  • 2001 - Steven Stucky: "Three Little Pieces for David," for piano (written for the 65th birthday of conductor David Zinman), by Yefim Bronfman at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado.

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About Composers Datebook®

Host John Birge presents a daily snapshot of composers past and present, with timely information, intriguing musical events and appropriate, accessible music related to each.

He has been hosting, producing and performing classical music for more than 25 years. Since 1997, he has been hosting on Minnesota Public Radio's Classical Music Service. He played French horn for the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra and performed with them on their centennial tour of Europe in 1995. He was trained at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy.

About Composers Datebook®