The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (53): Boston’s finest

The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (53): Boston’s finest


norman lebrecht

May 07, 2020

A memento of the short-lived Irving Fine (1914-1962), a pal of Copland’s and Bernstein’s who neatly straddled serialism and neo-classicism.



  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    I wish I could hear Goode in a recording of Fine.

    It might be the best performance on record.

  • Joel Lazar says:

    It’s Richard Burgin, by the way. One of my earliest conducting mentors. I was at this concert!

  • Alphonse says:

    Irving Fine’s “Toccata Concertante” is a fine work. Great fun to play, and too seldom heard.

    • Brian Bell says:

      Indeed! Anyone curious should dig up the Leinsdorf BSO RCA recording circa 1966. It was written as a showpiece for Koussevitzky.

      • Alphonse says:

        Yes indeed, Brian! An addendum to my earlier comment: the pun in dubbing it “a fine work” really was not intended!

    • Joel Lazar says:

      Yes! Brilliant work.
      Too seldom? How about “never”, alas!

  • Norman, thank you for posting this. Another neglected mid-century American masterpiece. I have loved it for decades. Listening to it again, it sounds like a missing link between Stravinsky and Bernstein. The Stravinsky influence is powerful, but is absorbed by a uniquely elegiac musical personality. It is the American Sound, blooming under an oak-leaved shade.

  • One of my favorite recordings ever is of the Greg Smith Singers (who was a big fan of Fine) is a heart melting version of works from Alice in Wonderland….I cry every time I hear Fine’s musical setting of “You are old father William” and “I saw a man sitting on a gate.”

  • Amos says:

    He should also be remembered as a skilled academic who, among other activities, created the School of Creative Arts at Brandeis.

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    He was fortunate to have a widow, Verna Fine, who dedicated herself to keeping his name alive. Another composer, who did not have that, after also dying young, was Nicolai Berezowsky. He is due for a major revival of interest…

    • Saxon Broken says:

      I think, rather than endless new commissions, there would be real value in an orchestra exploring the unknown post-war repertoire for gems and playing them in their concert season. I would be far more interested in going to concerts that did that rather than hearing another token premiere that neither orchestra nor conductor intend ever to play again.