Sinfonia is sonorous, angular, and somber,
having an etude-like quality featuring contrary motion,
often in sixths, that creates an interesting use of tight
and spacious registers. Dotted rhythmic patters
contribute a heaviness and seriousness.The
Fugato is Fine’s first use of traditional
counterpoint for a complete piece, and a casual listener
might mistake it for one of the fugues from
Hindemith’s Ludus tonalis. The
Fugato is in three voices with two subjects. The
first begins with a traditional hammerhead figure
followed by large leaps, characteristics that allow the
listener to follow the fugal procedure. Its answer is
accompanied by a counter subject. The second subject is
more active rhythmically and has its own exposition that
presents a clear tonal center of C. The reminder of the
Fugato is episodes using the heads of each
subject until the ending, which is a complete statement
of the first subject.
-Heidi Von Gunden,
The Music of Vivian Fine, The Scarecrow Press,
and Fugato is a two-movement work which receives its
inspiration from the Baroque forms of the same types.
Though the Sinfonia and the Fugato differ form each other
in character, form, and texture, they form a unified
piece because of Fine’s tonal and harmonic
relationships, and her use of consistently repeated
intervals and dotted rhythms.
The sonorous open-position
chords in both treble and bass clefs throughout the
movement resemble the resonant clanging of a gong and
suggest Dane Rudhyar’s early influence.
Copland’s influence can also be perceived from the
outset, as Fine’s opening sonority is a chord
comprised of superimposed major and minor thirds,
producing a vertical half-step dissonant clash.
…The rhythmic scheme,
featuring various dotted rhythm patterns, moves from
simple to complex….As with earlier piano pieces,
Fine emphasizes important rhythmic, harmonic, and/or
structural elements with dynamic, articulation, or
…The Fugato opens
with a descending melodic fourth that suggests the key of
E-flat, implying a minor-relative major relationship
between the two movements. Although the Fugato’s
character is completely different from the
Sinfonia’s, Fine links the two immediately through
this tonal relationship, the initial dotted rhythm of the
Fugato, use of harmonic sixths, and the continuation of
the fourth from the last melodic figure of the Sinfonia
to the Fugato’s opening melody.
prevails in the Fugato, Fine writes with an undercurrent
of tonality and even loosely defined key relationships,
giving credence to Riegger’s statement about
Fine’s third period style: “a return to
atonality but tempered by key impressions.”
-Leslie Jones, “The Solo Piano Music
of Vivian Fine,” Doctor of Musical Arts thesis,
University of Cincinnatti, 1994.
is based on a tertian, though often dissonant harmonic
vocabulary. There are frequent changes in texture,
rhythm, and tempo, but unity is maintained by the
persistent dotted rhythms….The form is marked by an
initial motive which returns near the end of the
movement, and a middle section with increasing rhythmic
activity and sequential patterns.
–Marilyn Meyers Bachelder.
“Women in Music Composition: Ruth Crawford Seeger,
Peggy Glanville-Hicks, and Vivian Fine.” Master of
Arts in Music thesis, Eastern Michigan University,