Vivian Fine





Five Victorian Songs




16 minutes 45 seconds


Soprano, flute, clarinet, violin/viola, and cello


Christina Rossetti, Matthew Arnold, Gerald Manley Hopkins, William Ernest Henley, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Capitol Chamber Artists, with a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts


March 4, 1988, Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont. Janet Stasio, soprano, Mary Lou Saetta, violin and viola, Irvin Gilman, flute, Charles Stancampiano, clarinet, Ann Alton, cello


Available on demo CD

  1. Aloof
  2. Cadmus and Harmonia
  3. Spring and Fall: to a young child
  4. Invictus
  5. Sonnet from the Portuguese

program notes

Fifty-five years earlier Fine wrote Four Songs (1933) for soprano and string quartet, then The Great Wall of China (1947) for soprano, flute, violin, cello, and piano, followed by The Confession (1963), for soprano, flute, strings, and piano, the stunning Missa Brevis for Four Cellos and Taped Voice (1972), and the more recent Ode to Henry Purcell (1984) a song cycle for soprano and string quartet.
     The Five Victorian Songs is in the same tradition of her most challenging music….Fine was careful to observe rhythmic subtleties of the texts, generally writing syllabically and aiming for vocal clarity. Her recent contrapuntal emphasis is apparent…however, there is a greater unity between the singer and instruments than before.
     Each song has a unifying feature. In “Cadmus and Harmonia” by Matthew Arnold, the flute and clarinet have snakelike figures portraying Cadmus’s and Harmonia’s final state while the violin doubles the soprano….In the other songs Fine has a previous vocal melody be an instrumental counterpoint to a new vocal line. In 1991 she scored the collection as Four Victorian Songs for piano and voice, thinning the canonic textures and omitting one of the poems.

–Heidi Von Gunden, The Music of Vivian Fine, Scarecrow Press, 1999

audio files

Cadmus and Harmonia

Cadmus and Harmonia
Matthew Arnold

Far, far from here,
The Adriatic breaks in a warm bay
Among the green Illyrian hills; and there
The sunshine in the happy glens is fair,
And by the sea, and in the brakes.
The grass is cool, the sea-side air
Buoyant and fresh…
As virginal and sweet as ours.
And there, they say, two bright and aged snakes,
Who once were Cadmus and Harmonia,
Bask in the glens or on the warm sea-shore,
In breathless quiet, after all their ills.
Nor do they see their country, nor the place
Where the Sphinx lived among the frowning hills,
Nor the unhappy palace of their race,
Nor Thebes, nor the Ismenus, any more.

Spring and Fall: To a Young Child

Spring and Fall: to a Young Child
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Sonnet from the Portuguese

Sonnet from the Portuguese XIV
Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

If thou must love me, let it be for nought
Except for love's sake only. Do not say
"I love her for her smile--her look--her way
Of speaking gently,--for a trick of thought
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day"--
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may
Be changed, or change for thee,--and love, so wrought,
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,--
A creature might forget to weep, who bore
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby!
But love me for love's sake, that evermore
Thou mayst love on, through love's eternity.