The many facets of David Diamond

This morning I sat down to talk with Peter Elliot, a friend and former neighbor of the late composer David Diamond.  At Jines on Park Avenue (with the fabulous mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe eating breakfast only a few tables away!) Peter pulled out a white plastic bag stuffed with treasures: a whimsical letter from David to his kid brother (see picture below), the first Diamond LP he owned, and a fistful of old photos of the composer spending time with the Elliot family on Edgerton Street.

Who was David Diamond?  The irascible neighbor who constantly complained about the other neighbors' dogs?  Or a gentle man with a soft spot for the Elliot’s black cat Charcoal?  Both.  The bitter artist who allegedly punched a singer in the nose was also a sentimental loner who wept watching old Greta Garbo movies.  Playful, fastidious, and often angry, Diamond produced the luminous tone poem The Enormous Room AND dirge-like symphonies and thorny chamber music that may languish for eternity.

You’ll be hearing more about composer David Diamond in the coming months.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of this birth on July 9, 1915.  WXXI is preparing a nationally-syndicated radio special, and I’ve been combing through archival interviews, listening, and thinking about ways to cast a fresh light on his music and legacy as a major American composer.  Did you know him?  Please contact me. I’d like to hear your impressions.  Or share your stories on Peter’s excellent website here.