Frank Bridge

Bridge was born in Brighton and studied at the Royal College of Music in London from 1899 to 1903 under Charles Villiers Stanford and others. He played the viola in a number of string quartets, most notably the English String Quartet (along with Marjorie Hayward), and conducted, sometimes deputising for Henry Wood, before devoting himself to composition, receiving the patronage of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge.

Bridge had strong pacifist convictions, and he was deeply disturbed by the First World War, after which his compositions, beginning in 1921–24 with the Piano Sonata, were marked by a radical change in musical language (Payne, Hindmarsh, and Foreman 2001). In 1915 he wrote his Lament (for Catherine, aged 9 "Lusitania" 1915), for string orchestra, as a memorial to the sinking of the RMS Lusitania (Cerabona 2014). The piece was premiered by the New Queen's Hall Orchestra, conducted by the composer, on 15 September, at the 1915 Proms, as part of a programme of "Popular Italian music", the rest of which was conducted by Henry Wood (Anon. 1915; Anon. 2014).

Bridge was frustrated that his later works were largely ignored while his earlier "Edwardian" works continued to receive attention (Hindmarsh 1980).

Bridge is mostly remembered for privately tutoring Benjamin Britten, who later championed his teacher's music and paid homage to him in the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (1937), based on a theme from the second of Bridge's Three Idylls for String Quartet (1906). Britten was Bridge's only composition pupil (Mitchell 1991,[page needed]); nonetheless, Britten spoke very highly of his teaching, saying famously in 1963 that he still felt he "hadn't come up to the technical standards" that Bridge had set him (Mitchell 1991,[page needed]). When Britten left for the United States with Peter Pears in 1939, Bridge handed Britten his Giussani viola and wished him 'bon voyage and bon retour'; Bridge died in 1941 without ever seeing Britten again (Kildea 2013, 149).

Among Bridge's works are the orchestral suite The Sea (1910–11), Oration (1930) for cello and orchestra (recorded in 1976 by Julian Lloyd Webber) and the opera The Christmas Rose (premiered 1932), but he is perhaps most highly regarded today for his chamber music.[citation needed] His early works are in a late-Romantic idiom, but later pieces such as the Third (1926) and Fourth (1937) String Quartets are harmonically advanced and very distinctive, showing the influence of the Second Viennese School (Payne, Hindmarsh, and Foreman 2001). His works also show harmonic influences by Maurice Ravel[citation needed] and, distantly, Alexander Scriabin (Payne, Foreman, and Bishop 1976, 32). One of his most characteristic harmonies is the Bridge chord,[citation needed] for instance C minor and D major sounding at the same time, very poignant in There Is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook and the Piano Sonata (1921–24). He wrote this work to the memory of Ernest Farrar.

Other frequently performed works are the Adagio in E for organ, Rosemary for piano, and the masterful Cello Sonata in D minor (1913–17). The Scherzetto for cello and piano was rediscovered in the library of London's Royal College of Music by the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

Although not an organist himself, and not personally associated with music of the English Church, his short pieces for organ have been among the most-performed of all his output (Hindmarsh 1980).

Year / Artwork Title Importance Medium
1916 So Perverse 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Peter Pears - Tenor
Benjamin Britten - Piano
1919 Tis but a week 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Peter Pears - Tenor
Benjamin Britten - Piano
1920 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Text: W. B. Yeats

Peter Pears - Tenor
Benjamin Britten - Piano

1925 Golden Hair 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Text: James Joyce

Peter Pears - Tenor
Benjamin Britten - Piano

1925 Journey's End 4.00 stars LP
Comments:
Peter Pears - Tenor
Benjamin Britten - Piano