Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Remembering David Diamond

I was listening to a recording of the Grosse Fugue this morning, and the Grosse Fugue always reminds me of David Diamond.

At Juilliard, students were able to take "Literature and Materials of Music" classes with the composers on the faculty, and my second year I took a course on the fugue with David Diamond. Of course we listened to the Beethoven "Grosse Fugue." While it was playing Mr. Diamond shouted out the different parts of the fugue. He made sure to point out (loudly) all the statements of the subject, the answers, the episodes, and the strettos. After it was over he asked, "Miss Fine, what did you think of that?" to which I replied, "Mr. Diamond, I couldn't hear it." He said that he understood, and that he had been trying to hear the piece for years.

Right before Thanksgiving break I asked Mr. Diamond where he was going for Thanksgiving. He told me that he was going to Rochester to see his family. I told him that I had an uncle in Rochester, my great uncle Milton, Milton Bohrod, and I asked in an innocent way if Mr. Diamond might know him. Mr. Diamond replied, "I have played in a string quartet with Milton Bohrod for twenty-five years."

I didn't expect that. Actually, I didn't even know that Uncle Milton played the violin!

Mr. Diamond took a liking to me, and he told me about a book that was very important to him, something that I "must read." It was by Cyril Scott Music, Its Secret Influence Through the Ages. It opened a whole world concerning the idea of music and mysticism to me. I still own the book, and find that it has its unusual (some would say wacky) charms, but because Mr. Diamond recommeneded it to me I read it carefully and took it seriously. I guess that Mr. Diamond's Fugue class and Cyril Scott's book must have made strong marks on my psyche. I imagine that this is the kind of legacy Mr. Diamond would have wanted, and that is why I am sharing this memory.

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