Sessions did not go in for fulsome praise. “I like
it” was for him quite a compliment. However, he was
much taken by the opening of [Prelude for String
Quartet]. He said he wished he could have written it and
said I had “aural vision.” This remark
sustained me for many years.
–Vivian Fine, quoted in Heidi Von Gunden,
The Music of Vivian Fine, Scarecrow Press,
Prelude for String
Quartet is similar to Piece for Muted
Strings in terms of gesture, meter, tempo and
tonality, but demonstrates how Fine broke the reins of
tonality. Her acute hearing was able to take a simple
motif…and expand it into long sinuous lines.
Although the Prelude has an A major key signature and
does end on an A major triad, tonality is not a
constraint. The Prelude’s beginning has a
spaciousness that suggests a longer piece (it is a mere
thirty-four measures)….Although the Piece for
Muted Strings and the Prelude work well as
a pair, they were not originally intended as such.
Gunden, The Music of Vivian Fine, Scarecrow Press,