Frank Bridge

Frank Bridge (1879–1941)

0331a Bridge to use

What was the focus of his career?

He was a violinist but also a gifted violist. He played in multiple string quartets, notably the Joachim Quartet and English String Quartet. He was also a conductor before he started composing. Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, an American pianist, was one of his important patrons.

What were the highlights of his career?

Aside from his string-quartet career, he was also appointed assistant to Sir Thomas Beecham at the New Symphony Orchestra, and he occasionally substituted for Sir Henry Wood as a conductor at Queen’s Hall.

What were his influences/where did he go to school?

He went to the Royal College of Music, studying violin and composition. He was later awarded a scholarship to study composition with Charles Villiers Stanford.

Being a pacifist, he was traumatized by WWI. His composition style changed at that point—having more dissonance and darkness.

Works written for him?

Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge (1937) by Benjamin Britten, based on Bridge’s Three Idylls for String Quartet (1906)

Did he have any notable students?

Benjamin Britten was his most well known student. Britten was eleven when he studied with him, and had much affection for his teacher.

What was his family life like?

When Bridge was six, his father started teaching him violin. Later he played in and arranged music for his father’s theater orchestra.

Three Idylls for String Quartet was dedicated to Ethel Elmore Sinclair, an Australian violinist who sat next to Bridge in the Royal College of Music Symphony Orchestra. Later he and Ethel got married.

Fun fact

Bridge’s father, William Henry Bridge, had three wives and twelve children. Frank Bridge was the first born of the third wife, ranked tenth in the family.

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