Vivian Fine





Opus 51
Ballet for Charles Weidman




22 minutes


Piano and percussion


August 6, 1938, Bennington College, Fifth Bennington Festival of the Modern Dance, Charles Weidman and members of the Concert and Apprentice Groups, Vivian Fine, piano and Franziska Boas, percussion

program notes

Of the five principal works I have written for dance, two are in a humorous vein: “The Race of Life,” written for Doris Humphrey, and “Opus 51,” for Charles Weidman. The problem was to capture the kind of comedy involved, the particular area of the human dilemma. In addition, “The Race of Life” (based on drawings by James Thurber) had a story and definite characters, while Opus 51 had neither. In both works I had to discover the serious musical stance from which humor could be achieved….
     ”Opus 51,” lacking story or characters, was almost pure comedy, if there is such a thing. In it Weidman achieved a kind of collage. No attempt was made to create situations leading to a comic “point.” Instead, we were shown unrelated actions strung together, the ultimate expression of the absurd….Weidman, using illogical sequences of action, succeeded in making us laugh by treating these sequences as seriously as if they were the normal course of events. In this rearrangement of reality, we sensed that reality was perhaps just another arrangement, and we enjoyed the upsetting of the proper order of things.
     The music for both these dances was written after the dance was composed, although not after the entire work was finished. I would write a section as each new part of the dance was completed. In composing for choreography there is the problem of developing a musical structure and continuity. I was able to do this by not composing for individual moments or patterns, but by sensing the impulse that moved the dancer.

–Vivian Fine, Dance Perspectives, v. 16, 1963


“Vivian Fine has provided Charles Weidman’s ballet with a delightful musical score.”

–John Martin, The New York Time