Fine, Vivian (1913—)

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Fine, Vivian (1913—)

American composer. Born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 28, 1913; eldest of three daughters of Rose (Finder) Fine and David Fine (both Russian-Jewish immigrants); studied with Djane Lavoie-Herz, Abby Whiteside, Ruth Crawford , and Roger Sessions; married Benjamin Karp, in 1935; children: Margaret (Peggy) Karp ; Nina Karp.

Began her career as an accompanist for dancers and then composed for ballet; wrote dance scores for Martha Graham, Hanya Holm , and Charles Weidman; received the American Academy-National Institute of Arts and Letters Award (1979); served as musical director of the Bethsabee de Rothschild Foundation (1955–61); in addition to works for ballet and dance, composed many pieces for orchestra, chamber and choral groups.

Vivian Fine was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 28, 1913, the eldest of three daughters of Russian-Jewish immigrants Rose Finder Fine and David Fine. Influenced by her mother, Vivian Fine began her career on piano. An excellent pianist, she became the accompanist for Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman at dance recitals and gradually began composing for the dance. She wrote her first large ballet, The Race

of Life, in 1937 for Humphrey. This humorous, popular ballet was based on the drawings and story by James Thurber. The composer, Walling-ford Riegger, suggested that Fine rescore The Race of Life as a concert number. Fine continued her work in the field of dance and in 1960 was commissioned by Martha Graham to write Alcestis. Graham choreographed the work which received rave reviews. Although Fine once remarked, "I prefer a skilled conductor to direct my music because this conductor has the necessary training at realizing the intention of the composer," she began to conduct her own compositions. Speaking of the obstacles faced by women in composition, Fine noted, "I don't find any offensive attitudes toward myself as a composer but I do find a great many sexist attitudes toward women in general. I certainly can't point to myself as one who has suffered—I have a fine career." Several recordings have been made of Fine's work which continues to be widely performed.

John Haag , Athens, Georgia