Fine, Irving (Gifford)

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Fine, Irving (Gifford)

Fine, Irving (Gifford), remarkable American composer and teacher; b. Boston, Dec. 3, 1914; d. there, Aug. 23, 1962. He studied piano with Frances Glover in Boston (1924–35) ad pursued training in composition with Hill and Piston at Harvard Univ. (B.A., 1937; M.A., 1938) and with Boulanger in Cambridge, Mass., and Paris (1938–39). From 1939 to 1945 he was asst. conductor of the Harvard Glee Club. He taught in the music dept. at Harvard Univ. from 1939 to 1950, and also taught composition at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood (summers, 1946–57). From 1950 util his death he taught theory and composition at Brandeis Univ., where he was the Walter W Naumburg Prof, of Music and chairman of the School of Creative Arts. In 1949 he won the N.Y. Music Critics’ Circle Award for his Partita for Wind Quintet. In 1949–50 he was in Paris on a Fulbright research fellowship. He held Guggenheim fellowships in 1951–52 and 1958–59. O Aug. 12, 1962, he conducted a performance of his Symphony 1962 with the Boston Sym. Orch. at the Berkshire Music Center. He succumbed to a heart attack just 11 days later. Fine was at first influenced by the music of Stravinsky and Hindemith, which led him to adopt a cosmopolitan style of composition in which contrapuntal elaboration and energetic rhythms were his main concern. He later developed a distinctive personal style, marked by a lyrical flow of cohesive melody supported by lucid polyphony.


ORCH Toccata Concertante (1947; Boston, Oct. 22, 1948); Notturno for Strings and Harp (1950–51; Boston, March 28, 1951); Serious Song: A Lament for Strings (Louisville, Nov. 16, 1955); Blue Towers (1959; Boston, May 31, 1960); Diversions (1959–60; Boston, Nov. 5, 1960); Symphony 1962 (Boston, March 23, 1962). CHAMBER: Violin Sonata (1946; N.Y., Feb. 9, 1947); Partita for Wind Quintet (1948; N.Y., Feb. 19, 1949); String Quartet (1952; N.Y., Feb. 18, 1953); Fantasia for String Trio (1959); Romanza for Wind Quintet (1959; Washingto, D.C., Feb. 1, 1963); One, Two, Buckle My Shoe for Oboe, Clarinet, Violin, and Cello (WGBH-TV, Boston, Nov. 3, 1959). KEYBOARD : Piano : Music (1947; Boston, Nov. 19, 1948); didactic pieces: Victory March of the Elephants (1956), Lullaby for a Baby Panda (1956), and Homage a Mozart (1956). VOCAL: 3 Choruses from Alice in Wonderland for Chorus and Piano (1942; Cambridge, Mass., March 4, 1943; also for Chorus and Orch., Worcester, Mass., Oct. 1949); The Choral New Yorker for Chorus and Piano Obbligato (1944; Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 25, 1945); A Short Alleluia for Women’s Voices (1945); Hymn “In Grato Jubilo” for Women’s Voices and Small Orch. (Boston, May 2, 1949); The Hour-Glass for Chorus (1949; Boston, May 1, 1952); Mutability, 6 songs for Mezzo- soprano and Piano (N.Y, Nov. 28, 1952); An Old Song for Chorus (1953; Cambridge, Mass., March 1954); 3 Choruses from Alice in Wonderland for Women’s Voices and Piano (1953; Bradford, Mass., April 1954); Childhood Fables for Grownups for Medium Voice and Piano (set 1,1954, N.Y., Feb. 20, 1956; set 2, 1955); McCord’s Menagerie for Men’s Voices (1957; Cambridge, Mass., June 9, 1958).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire