Irving Fine, Symphony (1962)


Irving Fine, Symphony (1962)



Irving Fine (1914-1962) was my father’s professor for a course in musical composition at Harvard College.

Fine’s Symphony (1962) may be his best work. I find it compelling on repeated listenings. It is not what one would call lush music, but it is totally engaging.

Charles Munch conducted the premier performance by the Boston Symphony Orchetra on March 23, 1962. A second performance of the work by the BSO was given at Tanglewood less than two weeks before Fine’s death in his forties from a heart attack. Fine conducted.

Fine was a member of a mid-twentieth century group of Boston composers who were sometimes called the “Boston Six” or “Boston School.” Other members of the Boston School included Arthur Berger, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, and Harold Shapero.

There are some interesting connections here, from a personal point of view. Besides my father’s having studied under Fine, four composers of the Boston Six — Berger, Bernstein, Fine, and Shapero — all taught at one time or another at Brandeis University, where I was a student in the 1960’s. I had a part time job in the Music Department and used to observe a couple of these professors come and go, but never studied under them.

Besides studying under Fine, my father knew Berger in passing from his Harvard days, when both were students there.


— Roger W. Smith

    January 2016

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