Vivian Fine





The Flicker




7 ½ minutes


Solo flute or right-hand piano


March 7, 1974, Mills College, Oakland, California, Maquette Kuper, flute


GunMar Music, Inc., ©1983


Leone Buyse, flute, “The Sky’s the Limit,” Crystal Records CD 317

program notes

A flicker outside the window of her Bennington home inspired Vivian Fine to depict its flight, described by ornithologist Tory Peterson as ‘deeply undulating, produced by several quick beats and a pause.’ Bird song is often heard, and flight and song intermingle. The performer’s final gesture is to lift and turn her head and eyes, as if following an ascending trajectory which disappears into space.

–Leone Buyse, notes to “The Sky’s the Limit” CD

Fine returned to birdsong for an unusual piece, The Flicker, for solo flute or piano right hand. Her flicker sings virtuostic lines that change continuously for this long six-page solo. One would expect some type of reuse of material to account for the multiplicity of pitches, but this is not the case. Fine reported that she "wrote what I heard," which was the imagined flight and song of this active bird.

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

Composer’s Note to the Score:

“The flight is deeply undulating, produced by several quick beats and a pause.”

–Roger Tory Peterson

Bird-song is also heard, and flight and song intermingle.


“One of the finest additions to the 20th century unaccompanied flute repertoire”

–Michael Steinberg, musicologiist


“The song is occasionally lyrical; its articulation requirements are rigorous and its slurred leaps demand powerful breathing strategy and stamina. This is an example of confident writing….Written at a time when Ms. Fine was largely immersed in ensemble writing, The Flicker stands out as an evident expression of lively rhythm and sturdy solo line.”

–Betty-Ann Lynerd, Women of Note Quarterly, February 1997


“Fine’s sense of the drama and humor are obvious.”

–Richard Pontzious, San Francisco Examiner, January 10, 1983


audio files