Obituary: Orchestral recording pioneer Wilma Cozart Fine, 82

Posted on: September 28, 2009

In Friday’s (9/25) Wall Street Journal, Stephen Miller writes, “Just 23 years old when she recruited the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for a recording contract in 1950, Wilma Cozart Fine went on to create hundreds of orchestral albums that set the standard for classical-music recording for decades. Mrs. Fine, who died Sept. 21 at the age of 82, led Mercury Records’ classical-music recording business in the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when senior female executives in the industry were rare. She initiated and produced the label’s ‘Living Presence’ series that ultimately grew to a catalog of more than 400 classical recordings. The first Chicago Symphony session, Mussorgsky-Ravel’s “Pictures at an Exhibition,” was recorded by sound engineer C. Robert Fine, whose single-microphone technique yielded sound as realistic as existing technology allowed.” Robert Fine and Wilma Cozart “were married in 1957, and the couple collaborated on recording projects until Mrs. Fine left the business in the early 1960s. … Despite more than half a century of technical innovation since Mrs. Fine’s first recordings, her work is still considered exceptional for the clarity and realism of its sound.”

Posted September 28, 2009