- Irving Fine (1914-1962)
- Boston Modern Orchestra Project
- Gil Rose, conductor
BOSTON — Cast your eye over the orchestral landscape, and the big picture could be seen as one of institutional malaise: deficits, labor strife, cowardly programming. All of which makes it imperative to celebrate those ensembles that, through luck, skill and diligence, pull off what the symphonic behemoths too rarely achieve: diverse repertoire and financial equilibrium.
In his too-brief career, the American composer Irving Fine (1914-1962), a star pupil of Nadia Boulanger and a founding professor at Brandeis University, brought the spirit of Stravinsky’s 1940s neoclassicism into several elegantly-crafted, witty, expressive, and vividly orchestrated works. In the Toccata concertante one can hear echoes of Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, but the assimilation into Fine’s vigorous and entirely personal style is completely convincing.
American composer Irving Fine (1914-1962) died of a stroke at the age of 48, only days after he conducted the premiere of his Symphony at the Tanglewood Music Festival.
Just to show that I listen to, and enjoy, music that is not British. I recently reviewed this excellent CD of music by one of the United States great composers. As I noted at the conclusion of my review, 'this is an exciting and desirable retrospective of Irving Fine’s orchestral music.' It was first published on MusicWeb International.
Boston-born Irving Fine's (1914-1962) unfortunate demise at forty-seven deprived the classical music world of an extremely promising talent. A superb teacher and administrator, he was also an accomplished pianist, conductor and composer, who owing to his early death completed only six orchestral works. Now for the first time we get all of them on one disc with this hybrid, CD(2)/SACD(2/5.0), disc from BMOP/sound in their acclaimed series devoted to twentieth century American composers (see 14 May 2014).
"Curious, isn’t it, that the last really great symphony…was Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements, date 1945, exactly coincident with the end of World War Two? It is as though that apocalyptic bomb had demolished not only Hiroshima but, as a side effect, the whole tonal symphonic concept as well.
And so for the last thirty years we have had no real symphonic history."
Irving Fine, Complete Orchestral Works
Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, conductor
BMOP Sound 1041
This disc is a most welcome retrospective of American composer Irving Fine, who died in 1962. Fine was a member of the so-called “Boston Six” or “Boston School.” Other members of the Boston School included Arthur Berger, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, and Harold Shapero.
To the list of those such as Toccata who fill the gaps of neglected music, I’m happy to add the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. Some of their releases have been too avant-garde for me, but there’s nothing about these recordings of the music of Irving Fine to scare the horses. In fact much of the music is as direct in its appeal as fellow American composers Aaron Copland – Fine’s older contemporary – and Leonard Bernstein.
Irving Gifford Fine (1914-1962) was an American composer. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Fine studied with Walter Piston at Harvard earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. He studied conducting with Serge Koussevitsky and composition with Nadia Boulanger. At the time of his death at age 47 he completed only a handful of works for orchestra, chorus and various chamber ensemble and solo works. But what he lacked in quantity did not lack in quality. The Irving Fine Society maintains a very useful web page which can be found here.