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Diamond, David (1915-2005)  
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In 1973, he began teaching at the Juilliard School of Music, where he enjoyed a long teaching career, remaining on the Juilliard faculty until 1997.

Return to Critical Favor

During the 1960s and 1970s, Diamond's work was mostly ignored by the new conductors who assumed the helm of the major orchestras. With characteristic candor, he told the New York Times in 1975 that "Conductors today are appallingly lazy. What a sad fact that these rude young men are inheriting the finest orchestras!"

In the 1980s and 1990s, however, classical music fashion took another turn. The traditional tonal system, along with the traditional musical values of harmony and melody, regained its place at the center of classical music. With this change of fashion, Diamond was rediscovered and his music found new critical appreciation.

Two of his students from Juilliard, conductor Gerard Schwarz and cellist Stephen Honigberg, were particularly responsible for reviving interest in Diamond's work.

Schwarz, music director of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, has singled Diamond out as the most talented composer of his generation and backed up that assertion with acclaimed recordings.


Despite a period of being overshadowed by lesser composers, Diamond ultimately achieved wide recognition. Indeed, the sustained quality of Diamond's astonishing output (11 symphonies, 11 string quartets, over 50 preludes and fugues for piano, and many more works from 65 years of composing) brought him a long list of prizes, including three Guggenheim Fellowships; the Paderewski Prize in 1943; a Prix de Rome from the American Academy in Rome; Columbia University's prestigious William Schuman Award for his life's work in 1985; and the National Medal of Arts, which was presented by President Clinton at the White House in 1995.

In a 1990 interview, Diamond expressed quiet satisfaction at his vindication, noting of the period in which he was ignored by critics and conductors, "I don't look back in anger because I feel that I've won the battle. The others have disappeared."

Diamond's Second Symphony (1944), Fourth Symphony (1948) and Orchestral Suite for Romeo and Juliet (1947), among many other works, are now regularly performed for enthusiastic audiences by orchestras around the world.

Diamond died of congestive heart failure in Rochester, New York on June 13, 2005, a few weeks before his 90th birthday.

He had reportedly completed a draft of his autobiography and was working with an editor to prepare it for publication. Up in the air is the question of whether a Golden Years perspective might have prompted him to sanitize or tone down the juicier details of incidents such as Leonard Bernstein's habit of stealing his boyfriends.

Almost certainly, however, his autobiography elaborates on his artistic credo, stated in a May 2005 interview with music critic Melinda Bargreen: "If music doesn't communicate, it has no chance of survival. The need for beautiful music is stronger now than ever."

John McFarland

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Bargreen, Melinda. "Diamond's Sparkling Career Stands Test of Time." The Seattle Times (June 19, 2001): D3.

_____. "Composer Diamond; Outlasting the Trends." The Seattle Times (May 10, 2005): E1.

"David Diamond." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Suzanne M. Burgoin, ed. 2nd ed. 17 vols. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. 4:527-29.

Kimberling, Victoria J. David Diamond: A Bio-Bibliography. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 1987.

Wakin, Daniel J. "David Diamond, 89, Intensely Lyrical Composer Is Dead." New York Times (June 15, 2005): C20.


    Citation Information
    Author: McFarland, John  
    Entry Title: Diamond, David  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated April 3, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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