David Diamond described his own FOURTH SYMPHONY as "my
smallest large symphony." A compact three-movement
16-plus minute-work, its arc is tightly constructed,
from the sonata form of the first through the
chorale-like second to the rondo closing of the third
via a rambunctious scherzo. One critic cheerfully
declared that it "did nothing to dispel a belief to
which I am devotedly attached...that eternity is a
happy, joyous and occasionally noisy place not to
seriously concerned with dialectic mumbo-jumbo."
On January 23, 1945, the Boston Symphony Orchestra
premiered the FOURTH SYMPHONY under the baton of the
then 29-year-old assistant conductor, Leonard
Bernstein, who stepped in for an ailing Koussevitzky,
whose self-named foundation commissioned the piece.
Bernstein also went on to lead the successful New York
premiere and championed Diamond’s work, calling him a
"vital branch in the stream of American music" and
tempted Diamond back from Italy to conduct the New York
Philharmonic for his 50th birthday in 1965. Diamond
remained in the US (until his death in Rochester, NY,
in June), teaching first at the Manhattan School of
Music then at Juilliard — and brought to his students
the legacy of his own legendary teachers, Roger
Sessions and Nadia Boulanger.
Diamond’s fans crossed generations of conductors from
Monteux to Mitropoulos and most recently included
Gerard Schwarz, who not only commissioned KADDISH in
1989 for cello and orchestra with Yo-Yo Ma and the
Seattle Symphony but recorded an impressive number of
works, which are now on the Naxos label.