Fine was a conducting pupil of Serge Koussevitzky, served as pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and studied composition with Nadia Boulanger at the Fontainebleau School of Music in Paris and at Radcliffe College. From 1939 until 1950, he taught music theory at Harvard and conducted its Glee Club, becoming a close associate of Leonard Bernstein, Igor Stravinsky and Aaron Copland. From 1950, he taught at Brandeis University, where he was Walter S. Naumburg Professor of Music and founded the School of Creative Arts.
Between 1946 and 1957, he also taught composition at the Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshires. Irving Fine died in Natick, Massachusetts in August 1962. He was 47 years of age. The cause of death was heart disease. Among Fine's compositions are a violin sonata; a string quartet; Fantasia for String Trio; Music for Piano; Partita for Wind Quintet; Toccata Concertante for Orchestra; Notturno for Strings and Harp; Serious Song, subtitled a "lament for string orchestra"; Diversions for piano and orchestra; and the Symphony 1962, which premiered at Tanglewood less than two weeks before his untimely death following a heart attack (Fine conducted the premiere when Charles Munch, who was originally to have conducted, fell ill). Fine's choral works, which are frequently performed, include two sets of choruses from Alice in Wonderland; "Childhood Fables for Grown-ups," settings of various poems about his composer friends, including Leonard Bernstein, Lukas Foss and Harold Shapero; The Choral New Yorker, The Hour-Glass, McCord's Menagerie, and Mutability song cycles; and others. He also created choral arrangements of his colleague and friend Aaron Copland's Old American Songs. Read more on Last.fm.
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