Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music

First Advisor

John Fitz Rogers


David Leo Diamond (1915–2005) was a prolific and highly esteemed American composer whose works were premiered by such notable conductors as Dimitri Mitropoulos, Eugene Ormandy, Serge Koussevitzky, Leonard Bernstein, and Gerard Schwarz. In addition to his significant output and a large circle of famous friends and professional acquaintances, his sphere of influence also included his tenure as professor of composition at the Juilliard School where he worked from 1973 until 1997. His impressive roster of students includes distinguished composers such as Lowell Liebermann, Eric Whitacre, and Vivian Fung. Despite his stature as a composer, however, there is a surprising lack of biographical information available regarding Diamond. His music today is unfortunately neglected, and even less analyzed or understood. According to the chapter divisions in Victoria Kimberling’s 1987 book David Diamond: A Bio-Bibliography, written while Kimberling was a student of Diamond himself, Diamond’s output is described as belonging to four stylistic periods: I. Juvenilia/Early Maturity (ca. 1930–1940), II. Diatonic and Modal Period (ca. 1941– 1950), III. Early Chromaticism (ca. 1951–1970), and IV. Late Chromaticism (ca. 1971–). This dissertation will trace the stylistic evolution of Diamond through these four suggested periods, beginning with a close, analytical perspective at Diamond’s usage of modes (a trademark of his compositional style from the late 1930s through the 1940s). As was the case with so many other American Populist composers, progressive compositional ideas began to infiltrate Diamond’s works in the early 1950s. The bulk of the dissertation will examine this period of Diamond’s compositional evolution, including post-tonal compositional techniques, interpenetration of modal and chromatic/post-tonal pitch structures, and a highly personal, characteristic approach to thematic development. The dissertation will conclude with a discussion of characteristics of his later works and with suggestions of further study on Diamond.

Included in

Composition Commons