Vivian Fine





Nightingales-Motet for Six Instruments




6 minutes


Flute, oboe, violin, 2 violas, double bass


Chamber Music Conference and Composers Forum of the East


August 21, 1979, Bennnington College, Chamber Music conference and Composer’s Forum of the East. Robert Ackerberg, flute, Sylvia Ackerberg, oboe, Nancy Dunetz, violin, Marc Basturschek and Bernard Schlanger, violas, Marji Danilow, bass

program notes

Nightingales was another commission by the Chamber Music Conference and Composers Forum of the East. Fine continued the theme of expansion by using a vocal form for an instrumental ensemble of flute, oboe, violin, two violas, and a double bass. The score, which has no relationship to her earlier Sounds of the Nightingale (1971), is inscribed with the following: “What bird so sings yet so does wail? / O tis the ravish’d nightingale” by John Lyly, a poet whose work she had used about forty years prior in Four Elizabethan Songs. Instead of words, this motet has five nightingale-like melodies, with the flute presenting melody one, the oboe having melody two three beats later, the violin sounding melody three during a repetition of the oboe’s melody, the viola beginning melody four at the end of the violin’s melody three, and the double bass introducing melody five later. The ensemble is instructed to “Sing like a nightingale,” and each melody is so distinctive that it could represent a line of poetry.

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