The Great Wall of China (Fine, Vivian)

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 complete performance
#252604 - 25.37MB - 13:51 -  0.0/10 2 4 6 8 10 (0) - - !N/!N/!N - 193x

MP3 file (audio)
rhymesandchymes (2012/9/28)

 last movement
#188837 - 2.38MB - 5:12 -  10.0/10 2 4 6 8 10 (1) - - !N/!N/!N - 122x

MP3 file (audio)
rhymesandchymes (2012/3/15)


Luann Lee, soprano; with The Walden Trio
Gwendolyn Mansfield, flute; Maxine Neuman, cello; Joan Stein, piano

Publisher Info.:

Vivian Fine estate


Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 3.0 [tag/del]

Misc. Notes:

Recorded live at WQXR, New York City, 1975


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Sheet Music


#188836 - 3.37MB, 24 pp. -  10.0/10 2 4 6 8 10 (1- !N/!N/!N - 417x

PDF typeset by Paul Hawkins
rhymes&chymes (2012/3/15)

PMLP326562-Great Wall of China.pdf
Publisher Info.:

Vivian Fine Estate


Performance Restricted Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives 1.0 [tag/del]

However, the lawful copyright owner has generously released the file for distribution at IMSLP under one of the Creative Commons licenses or the IMSLP Performance Restricted License, which allow for the free distribution (with proper attribution) of the file with various levels of restriction with respect to the creation of derivative works, commercial usage, or public performances.


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General Information

Work Title The Great Wall of China
Alternative Title
Composer Fine, Vivian
Movements/Sections 4 movements
First Performance 1948-05 at the Macmillan Theater, New York City, Alice Ditson Fund Concert
Shirlee Emmons, soprano, Ralph Freundlich, flute, Claus Adams, cello, and Alvin Bauman, piano
Librettist Franz Kafka (1883–1924)
Language English
Average Duration 14 minutes
Composer Time Period Modern
Piece Style Modern
Instrumentation Soprano, flute, violin, cello, and piano

Misc. Comments

The Great Wall of China…is an impressive composition in which Fine shed any attempt to write tonally. This is Vivian Fine at her best, free to write what she hears. The inspiration for the song came while reading Franz Kafka’s The Great Wall of China. Fine selected passages that attracted her interest and divided the song into four untitled movements….The Great Wall of China is experimental and forward looking in the way she involved the ensemble in portraying the text. Only the third movement uses the full ensemble; Fine never feels compelled to have everyone playing all of the time. The soprano’s text is syllabic and declamatory but set in the twisting modernistic line of her earlier music. At times she narrates with a spoken line but never is the text distorted….Fine does not use sprechstimme or any extended vocal techniques. Rather it is the total texture that conveys meaning.

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


“…Moments of high drama…coexist alongside subtle poetic development.”

—Marion Jacobson, The Washington Post

“One listens, one laughs at this singular alliance of voice and instruments. But one listens, intrigued. The music becomes more violent. There are bangings on the piano like a gong, sounds like the orchestra of a Chinese theatre and all sorts of queer figurations, as the voice continues….We think that [Satre]…would have enjoyed these existential strains.”

—Olin Downs, The New York Times
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