David Diamond: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 2



At the premiere of Quartet No. 10


October 29, 1966


American University,Washington, D.C.




Diamond Quartets Volume Two




Interviews and notes compiled


by Steven Honigberg


Additional information provided by


James R. Heintze and Dr. Richard Crouch:




DAVID DIAMOND, the eminent American


composer, was born in Rochester, New York


on July 9, 1915, the only son of Austrian and


Polish immigrants. His musical talents


revealed themselves very early when he


taught himself to play the violin at the age


of seven and devised a system of violin


notation all his own. From 1927-29, his


family lived with relatives in Cleveland


where he found an important friend and


patron in Andrè de Ribaupierre, a Swiss


musician who gave him formal training in


violin and music theory at the Cleveland


Institute of Music. In 1928, Ribaupierre


introduced him to the great composer


Ravel, who made a lasting impression on


him. When his family moved back to


Rochester, Diamond juggled regular high


school classes with violin and composition


studies at the Eastman School of Music.


When he graduated from high school, he


had already completed over 100 works, all


of which he later discarded as juvenilia.




In 1934, Diamond left Rochester for New


York, where he became a scholarship


student of Roger Sessions at the New


Music School. Around this time, he made


the first of three artistically significant trips


to Paris in the 1930s. There he met Ravel


again and came into contact with composers


Milhaud and Roussel, the conductor


Charles Munch, and writers Andrè Gide


and James Joyce. He would always have a


special place in his heart for French music,


especially that of Ravel, his ideal, whose


music he would describe as “the most


perfect, the most imaginative and the most


moving” of all contemporary music.




During his second and third trips to Paris


(1937-39), Diamond studied composition


with Nadia Boulanger at the American


Conservatory in Fontainebleau. In 1937,


the latter introduced him to Stravinsky,


whose advice and encouragement were


very important to him. In 1940, he


returned to New York as World War II was


spreading through Europe.




In the 1940s, Diamond found it difficult to


make ends meet but managed to produce


some of his best-known works.


Fortunately, he continued to receive


several awards and commissions that


helped sustain him. For two years (1943-


45), he played violin in the weekly Carnegie


Hall radio show Your Hit Parade. It was during


this time that he composed his String


Quartet No. 2, as well as his Rounds for string


orchestra, one of his most popular and


widely played works.




In the 1950s and early 1960s, Diamond


lived and worked in Italy, first in Rome


(1951) and then in Florence where he


settled. Among other things, he left the


states to escape the repressive atmosphere


of the McCarthy era at the time. In


1956 he returned to be with his gravely ill


mother and played violin for a time in the


Candide orchestra under Leonard


Bernstein. In 1965 at the age of 50,


Diamond returned to the United States


on a permanent basis. In 1966-67, he


served as chair of the composition


department at the Manhattan School of


Music; in 1973, after several composer-inresidence


positions, he was appointed


Professor of Composition at the Juilliard


School of Music, where he taught until


1997. In the 1980s and 1990s, he received


more prestigious honors, including the


National Medal of Arts from President


Clinton at the White House (1995).




String Quartet No.2 was begun in New York


in 1943 and finished on February 22, 1944.


It was premiered on April 26, 1961 by the


Kroll Quartet in Capen Hall in Buffalo,


New York. It is in three movements in fastslow-


fast sequence. The contrapuntal


craftsmanship, rhythmic vitality, rich diatonic


harmonic writing, formal logic and


distinctive lyricism that have marked


Diamond's style throughout his long creative


life are all in evidence here. For him,


“a quartet is made of four independent,


contrapuntal lines that relate to each


other thematically, motivically and so forth,”


and String Quartet No. 2 is no exception.


The opening bars provide the primary


thematic thread, with its descending openfifth


intervals. The `flexible' Allegro begins


softly, ends even more softly, and constantly


shifts meters in between. The Adagio is


indeed sad as marked.The closing Allegro


is powerful and intense that picks up


momentum as it races to the end.




Interview with David Diamond


January 25, 2002




Q: How would you describe your


String Quartet No. 2?




A: It is a very spirited work. Its lines are


very long, especially in the slow movement.


After the success of Quartet No. 1


composed in one movement, I wanted


to go on to another quartet but this


time compose it in a different form.




Q: The last movement is indeed a virtuoso






A: You know Nicki Berezowsky, who was


the second violinist of the Coolidge


Quartet, always used to say that this


was one of the few American works


whose finale could be called real contrapuntal


writing for string quartet. But


you must not take it too fast. It must be


fast but a very careful fast.




Q: But you have it marked Prestissimo -


half note = 168.This is incredibly fast..




A: Don't pay any attention to that.




Q: Why mark it so fast? Did you ever have


a model on which to base such speed?




A:Well, Beethoven's Rasumovsky quartet


Op. 59, No. 3 Finale: Presto (fugal per


petuum) that goes on so fast could


have been an influence because I loved


it so. I want the finale of this quartet to


be clean but virtuosic.




Q: What were you doing in Buffalo at this






A: I was giving a series of four lectures on


American music from the standpoint of


composition, from the standpoint of


the audience and from the standpoint


of the history of music. I had been


residing in Italy and they invited me


to come give these lectures.




Q: This quartet is dedicated to Edward






A: Yes. He was a wonderful friend when


he was a young man. For years he


worked at the New Yorker. He was


one of their best editors.




Q: He must have loved your music.




A: He did(!) - not only that he was so


very intelligent in talking about it. He


would give information about me to a


man named Winthrop Seargant who


was also with the New Yorker.This


publicity helped me as I was emerging


as a symphonist, and as a writer of


songs and string quartets.




String Quartet No. 9, completed on June 26,


1968 and composed in commemoration


of Roger Sessions' seventieth birthday,won


the 1972 Walter W.Naumburg Foundation


Award. Like his first quartet of 1940, the


ninth is in one extended movement utilizing


the traditional structural procedures in


non-traditional ways. All principal thematic


materials are heard at the very opening of


the quartet and the two major themes


become the fulfillment of the double


canon, which closes the quartet. Into the


contrapuntal devices are filigreed motival


and thematic references to Sessions' Violin


Concerto (1930-35).




Interview with David Diamond


April 23, 2002




Q: Why did you dedicate this quartet to


Roger Sessions for his 70th birthday?




A: First of all I would say that he was my


most important teacher after Nadia


Boulanger. If you have the book The


Correspondence of Roger Sessions, you


will see that our correspondence was


very intimate through the years.We


were just more than teacher and pupil.


We were colleagues and eventually


friends right up until the time he died.




Q: When did you study with him?




A: When I first came to New York in


1934 I began studying with him. So,


I stayed with him until I went to


Boulanger in 1936. After the war


broke out I heeded an official warning


to all Americans to leave France at


once. I then went back to New York


to work with him.




Q: Do you remember a particular piece


you worked on together?




A:No, you know I was already pretty


advanced technically. I had already


worked with Boulanger and with


Bernard Rogers. I had a pretty good


craft. Sessions was very pleased with


me. He said that I was the most technically


advanced of all his students. So,


there wasn't much there except to pick


on details. So we studied Beethoven


quartets, Cherubini and all the other


Italian composers of the period.




Q: Is there a particular piece of his that


you admire?




A: I particularly like his Concertino (1972)


and Divertimenti (1959) for small


orchestra. And of course his very early


The Black Maskers (1923).That is a


fascinating piece for big orchestra.




Q: I don't have any experience playing his






A: It's tough going.The three quartets are


tough going. He had a very strange


career because his music is so hard to


pin yourself to. People say that it's dry


and that they can't get anything from it.




Q: What attracted you to his compositions?




A: Certainly his early music. He wrote his


first string quartet for Mrs. Coolidge,


which was still tonal music. It was after


he got to know Arnold Schoenberg


that everything changed.




Q: Throughout this quartet you make great


use of the players trilling skills.




A: Oh yes, people have asked me about


this.That was a fantasy thing. At that


time I was obsessed with those trills.


So, I have a trill quartet!




Q: How did you become so interested with


these trills?




A: I was studying ornamentation for a


special class at Juilliard and I suddenly


realized that the trill is a very unusual


ornamentation because it can come


from the top and the bottom or you


can have trills with different intervals.


I just decided that I would work on


trills. It makes for many kinds of


special moments, especially in the


quieter passages.




String Quartet No. 10, a powerful and


expressive piece, received its premiere in


the Harry A. McDonald Recital Hall


at American University. Diamond began


writing the quartet in May 1966 in New


York during his tenure at the Manhattan


School of Music and completed the work


on August 19, 1966 in Rochester, New


York.The work was commissioned by the


American University, Washington, D.C.


for the dedication ceremony of the


David Lloyd Kreeger Music Building, on


October 29, 1966.




One hears Diamond now composing with


skill and assurance in what may be called


his “second” or late-mature style. One


hears a more lyrically sustained, richly


textured and mildly atonal utterance,


moved and shaped to rhythmic patterns


more vigorous and persistent than those


generally favored by Boulez and


Stockhausen. Despite traces of the innovators'


accents, the idiom is pure Diamond.


What the work says and how it says it add


up to a deeply personal musical statement


in which, though the present is vigorously


acknowledged, the valid past is not wholly


ignored.The latter point finds proof in the


form of the last movement, marked


Doppia fuga (double fugue), whose origins


lie three centuries in the past. [Rockbridge


Concert-Theater Series program notes]




The significance of Quartet No. 10 as a


commemorative piece came into play


once more during the 1980s on the


occasion of the composer's seventieth


birthday.The Juilliard Quartet gave a special


performance on April 15, 1985 at Merkin


Concert Hall in New York City.




Interview with David Diamond


January 28, 2002




Q: Did you decide that quartet No. 10


would be your final quartet?




A:No, I didn't decide that. I think I had


said everything that I had wanted to


say and then life got to be very complicated.


I wasn't turning out as much


music as I had in the past. I had also


come back from Italy where I had lots


of time to work and now I had to find


a job. It was a hard period for me.




Q: Your quartet No. 10 is dedicated to the


Lywen Quartet?


A: Yes,Werner Lywen was a good


friend. He was the concertmaster of


Bernstein's City Center Orchestra


when Bernstein first formed an orchestra


there.We were always together


with the Bernstein's. He had a quartet


in Washington that Mr. Kreeger set up.




Q: You always write so beautifully for the


viola.The end of the second movement


is a fine example.




A:Well, I played it for a time. I always


loved the sound of the instrument


but violin was my instrument.When I


played in quartets though, they used to


let me play viola because I had such a


large hand.




Q: In the opening of third movement, the


violin has a strong melody by itself


where you ask the player to play forte


on an open e string.




A: Right. I always liked that kind of sound.


It has a more steely sound.This is my


marking because I want that particular


sound and not the stopped e. It comes,


I suppose, from my knowledge of the


strings in the orchestra.




Q: The double fugue that follows is memorable.


Do you get emotionally involved


when writing a fugue?




A: Oh, yes. I always get emotionally


involved. It is part of my nature as


music is the second part of my nature.


So it was only natural that my music


would express these things. My symphonies


and sonatas are the same way.




Q: What would you like the performer


to know when working through this


difficult double fugue?




A: If they respect my dynamic markings,


everything should be heard. I am very


careful in contrapuntal music, especially


in quartets, that there are different


dynamics so that one hear the different


voices emerge.




Q: Mr. Diamond, how would you like to be






A: I don't want to be remembered. I want


my music to be remembered. Why


should I want to be remembered?


I won't know the hundreds or thousands


who may be listening. I want the


music to be what I am remembered by.




Q: And how would you like to have that


music recalled?




A: The way people love it now. The


warmth, which the audience has


come to know through the recordings


of my music. I just hope that continues.


I think it will too. Just as the great


masterworks have proven why they


have lasted, I hope that my music will


have that same viability and that same


ability to sustain itself that's energy


through time.




The Potomac String Quartet




In October 2000, thanks to a generous grant from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music,


the Potomac String Quartet embarked on a project of recording all eleven string


quartets written between 1936 and 1968 by the eminent American composer


David Diamond. Their most recent performance of Diamond's Quartets No. 2 &


No. 5 at The Voice of America's 60th anniversary season in Washington, D.C., was


broadcast worldwide. David Diamond's String Quartets, Volume One, on Albany


records, was released to critical acclaim in March 2002.




Violinist GEORGE MARSH has been


a member of the National Symphony


Orchestra since 1979. Mr. Marsh


has performed as soloist with the


National Symphony Orchestra, the


Virginia Chamber Orchestra, the


Catholic University Orchestra, and


several other orchestras in his native


midwest. As a chamber musician, he


is a founding member at the Chamber


Artists of Washington; he has also


performed with the Vaener String Trio,


the New England Piano Quartet,


the Washington Chamber Society, and


the Alexandria Chamber Ensemble.


Recital performances include concerts


at the Phillips Collection, the


Organization of American States, and


the National Gallery of Art in


Washington DC. Mr. Marsh has


received numerous awards, including


first prize in the 1985 Washington


International Bach Competition. He is


a graduate of the University of


Michigan, where he studied with Paul


Makanowitzky. Mr. Marsh can be heard


on recordings of the chamber music of


Erich Wolfgang Korngold, as well as on


recordings of music performed at the


United States Holocaust Memorial


Museum — four volumes of Darkness &


Light. Mr. Marsh plays a 1758 J.B.


Guadagnini, the “ex Joseph Silverstein”.




Violinist SALLY McLAIN received her


Bachelor and Master of Music degrees


with `High Distinction' from Indiana


University, where she studied with and


was assistant to James Buswell. Raised


in Washington DC, Ms. McLain is a


graduate of the DC Youth Orchestra


Program. She has participated in the


Tanglewood Music Center, Bach Aria


Festival and Institute and the New York


String Orchestra. Ms. McLain performs


throughout the Washington DC


area as soloist, chamber musician and


orchestral musician. Solo engagements


have included performances at the


Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, the


National Gallery of Art, the Corcoran


Gallery and Lisner Auditorium. She has


performed chamber music on the


Embassy Series, with National Musical


Arts and the 20th Century Consort.


She frequently performs as an orchestral


musician with the National Symphony


Orchestra and the Eclipse Chamber


Orchestra and served as concertmaster


for the Washington Chamber


Symphony for ten seasons. Ms. McLain


is a member of the Theater Chamber


Players, Leon Fleischer Director.




TSUNA SAKAMOTO, section violist of


the National Symphony Orchestra since


1998, was born in Tokyo, Japan. Before her


arrival in Washington, D.C., she was a


member of the violin section of the San


Antonio Symphony for five years. She has


also served as principal second violinist


with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra


of Indiana, associate concertmaster with


the Mansfield Symphony Orchestra of


Ohio, and assistant principal violist with


the Aspen Chamber Orchestra. In addition


to her duties with the National


Symphony, Ms. Sakamoto is co-principal


violist of the Eclipse Chamber Orchestra.


Ms. Sakamoto is a dedicated educator.


She enjoys teaching at her private


studio and as a part of the NSO Youth


Fellowship program, as well as coaching the


American Youth Symphonic Orchestra.


Ms. Sakamoto studied at the Toho


Academy School of Music, Cincinnati


College, and Ohio State University. Her


viola teacher include Edward Adelson,


Allyson Dawkins, and Heidi Castleman.


Ms. Sakamoto has received violin


instruction from Masumi Ogawa,


Kenji Kobayashi, Naoko Tanaka,


Kurt Sassmannshaus, Dorothy DeLay,


Larry Shapiro, and Michael Davis.




STEVEN HONIGBERG, heralded as a


“sterling cellist” by the Washington Post,


has emerged as one of the outstanding


cellists of his generation. Mr. Honigberg


gave his New York debut recital in Weill


Hall and has since performed throughout


the United States in recital, in


chamber music and as a soloist with


orchestra. A member of the National


Symphony Orchestra, he has been featured


numerous times as soloist with


that ensemble. He won rave reviews


for the 1988 world premiere of David


Ott's Concerto for Two Cellos performed


with the National Symphony Orchestra


and conductor Maestro Rostropovich,


with repeat performances on the


NSO's 1989 & 1994 United States


tours. Mr. Honigberg is also acclaimed


for his explorations of important new


works, such as Lukas Foss' Anne Frank


(1999), Benjamin Lees` Night Spectres


(1999), Robert Stern's Hazkarah


(1998), Robert Starer's Song of Solitude


(1995) & David Diamond's Concert Piece


(1993), written for and premiered by


Steven Honigberg. Mr. Honigberg


graduated from the Juilliard School of


Music with a Master's degree in Music,


where he studied with Leonard Rose


and Channing Robbins. Other mentors


include Pierre Fournier and Karl Fruh.


Voted `Best New Chamber Music


Series' of 1994 by the Washington Post,


Steven Honigberg has been The United


States Holocaust Memorial Museum's


chamber music series director since


its inception. Mr. Honigberg has an


extensive CD recording list, which


includes his latest recording of Ernst


Toch's cello compositions. Mr. Honigberg


also has recorded Ludwig van Beethoven's


complete works for cello & piano; an


album of twentieth-century American


cello works; the chamber music of


Erich Wolfgang Korngold; and recordings


of music performed at the United


States Holocaust Memorial Museum


— four volumes of Darkness & Light.


His recent performances include concerts


at the 1998 Ravinia Festival and


Weill Hall in New York, and a performance


of Berthold Goldschmidt's Cello


Concerto in August 2002 with the Sun


Valley Festival Orchestra, where he has


performed as principal cellist since


1990. Mr. Honigberg performs on the


`Stuart' Stradivarius cello made in 1732.




Recording Engineer


Antonino D'Urzo






Steven Honigberg




Editing and mastering


Charlie Pilzer - Airshow, Springfield,VA




Cover Photo


David Diamond (1950s)




Cover Design


Tracy Pilzer






Potomac String Quartet:




George Marsh


Violin I




Sally McLain


Violin II




Tsuna Sakamoto






Steven Honigberg






David Diamond String Quartets published by Southern Music Publishing Co. Inc.




This recording is made possible in part by the


generous support of the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.




Recorded St. Lukes Church, McLean, Virginia • March 2001 & October 2001








String Quartet No. 2 (1943-44)


To Edward Stringham In Friendship


I. Allegro Flessibile . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6:09


II. Adagio Mesto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7:53


III. Allegro Mesto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5:47




String Quartet No. 9 (1965-68)


To Roger Sessions for his 70th Birthday


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16:13




String Quartet No. 10 (1966)


For the Lywen Quartet


I. Allegro assai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5:53


II. Lento . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6:01


III. Adagio - Doppia Fuga . . . . . . . . . . .5:44




Total Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53:55