Life and career
1 early years
2 quest for recognition
3 change of course
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Books & articles
Site Redesign December 1998:
Through January 1999 the content is being
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with your questions about Bridge or his music.
A Quick Overview...|
Born in Sussex, Bridge as a boy learned to play violin from
his father, and had much early exposure to practical musicianship,
playing in theatre orchestras his father conducted, arranging and
also conducting occasionally.
At 17, he entered the Royal College of Music, where he studied violin
and composition. He later played viola in prominent quartets and was
a respected conductor. His earlier works, though colored by the
prevailing Brahms-Stanford style of the times, plainly have their
own distinct character.
After the war years 1914-18, Bridge's style grew in new directions.
Audiences meanwhile were inclined to associate Bridge with earlier works
like The Sea, and were regrettably thus less receptive to
his more current work.
By 1923, however, Bridge had the good fortune of achieving creative
independence through the aid of wealthy American arts patron Elizabeth
During this time he made several visits to America, where he conducted
some of his own works. He also built a cottage near Friston,
East Sussex, establishing there a quiet retreat for himself where
he composed most of his later works.
By the 1930s, even Bridge's earlier music was appearing less frequently
in concert programs. Yet during this time, he composed many of his finest
works. As his style was undergoing a further somewhat lyrical
transformation, he died abruptly in early 1941.
Following his death, Bridge's music was virtually forgotten, eclipsed
by another, more terrible European war. Today, his music enjoys
an ever-growing audience, largely due to the efforts of the
Frank Bridge Trust, which began to
subsidize recordings as early as the 1960s. Ironically, Bridge's music
has reached far more people since his death than during his own lifetime,
through that peculiar 'virtual concert hall' made possible by postwar
advances in the quality of sound-recording. And through this opportunity
to hear comes inevitable appreciation.
This music is too varied to fit a single category.
While certainly 'English,' it may even also be called 'European.'
It has its own unique brand of motion, color, and expressivity.
It is solidly written, never pretentious.
Influences and affinities include
among others. In composer Anthony Payne's apt words, Bridge drew upon both "conservative and radical" tendencies of his time.
Appreciation for this music grows with the listener's familiarity, perhaps
moreso than with some other composers'. Whatever your prior experience,
there is surely a pleasant discovery awaiting you somewhere
among the works of this underrated master.