Vivian Fine





The Triple Goddess




8 ½ minutes


Concert band: piccolo, flutes (4), oboe, B-flat clarinets (3), bass clarinet, bassoon, B-flat trumpets (4), horns in F (4), tenor trombones (2), bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, alto sax, tenor sax, baritone sax, timpani, percussion


Harvard Wind Ensemble


April 22, 1989, Sanders theater, Harvard University, Harvard University Band, Thomas Everett, conductor



program notes


This was the first time Fine had written for band, and she used the full resources of the ensemble to compose a mythic tone poem. Feminine imagery prevails. The Triple-Goddess displays herself as Night, Order, and Justice. She lives in a cave with Eros, her son, whom she conceived when the Wind laid a silver egg in her womb. Rhea, her mother, attends her. Fine includes headings in the score indicating the action being portrayed. The closing measures are labeled with the following: “Eros created earth, sky, sun, and moon, but the triple-goddess rules the universe.” Fine appears to have enjoyed composing this piece and allowed her sense of humor full range. She chose slowly moving passacaglia for the first section, using the low brass theme to portray Night. Each time the theme repeats, it is announced by the percussion: timpani, then chimes, cymbal, and so on. As the section progresses, the Wind is heard, then Eros is hatched from an egg and sets the universe in motion. This birth and creation take three attempts, and Fine repeats the same music but with different tempi: first an andante, then slower, and then twice the speed. Eros, who “was double-sexed and having four heads, sometimes roared like a lion or a bull, sometimes hissed like a serpent or bleated like a ram,” is portrayed in a cadenza of sonic effects such as glissandi trombones and bleating woodwinds. In contrast to the comic Eros, Night ends with a tonal chorale representing [the Goddess’s] triadic nature, and Rhea is portrayed by the anvil that marks the chorale’s downbeats.

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