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.
Love the music?
Show your support by making a gift to YourClassical.
Each day, we’re here for you with thoughtful streams that set the tone for your day – not to mention the stories and programs that inspire you to new discovery and help you explore the music you love.
YourClassical is available for free, because we are listener-supported public media. Take a moment to make your gift today.
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.