Frank Bridge, classical music composer

Frank Bridge image

Frank Bridge

Biography

Born in Brighton on February 26, 1879, Frank Bridge later enrolled in the Royal College of Music in 1899. There he studied composition under Charles Villiers Stanford, and became an accomplished violist, graduating from the school in 1904. In his early years as a professional musician, Bridge established himself as a proficient and gifted violist, performing with the Joachim Quartet and as a member of the English String Quartet until 1915. In addition, he was also a talented conductor. He conducted operas at the Savoy Theatre and Covent Garden, was chosen as assistant conductor of the New Symphony Orchestra by Sir Thomas Beecham, and occasionally deputized for Sir Henry Wood at Queen's Hall.

Bridge's early compositions were predominantly in the realm of chamber music and song, written in a late-Romantic style. He did compose a few orchestral works, greatly influenced by French Impressionism, and of which the 1911 orchestral suite The Sea has found a place in the standard repertoire. With the outbreak of World War I across the European continent, however, Bridge's musical style underwent a radical change. A pacifist with strong convictions, witnessing the world plunged into war was particularly disturbing for Bridge. Gradually, his music grew more angular and dissonant, with greater and more sudden changes of mood. The first instances of his changing style appeared in the Cello Sonata in D minor and the String Quartet No. 2, both written during the war years. After composing very little over the next several years, Bridge unveiled his Piano Sonata (1921-24), written in honor of Ernest Farrar and which fully embraced the stylistic changes hinted at in the previous two works. His new compositions showed the influence of Maurice Ravel and Alexander Scriabin, and in time approached the atonality of the Second Viennese School of composers.

During the Roaring Twenties, Bridge continued to conduct and made the first of his three trips to the United States (two more trips would follow during the 1930s). In 1924, however, he met the eleven year-old prodigy Benjamin Britten. Bridge undertook Britten's musical education for which he is largely known today. Britten later immortalized his teacher with his Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge written in 1937. Britten continued to hold his former teacher in high regard, even late in his career, and was, in part, responsible for the renewed interest in Bridge's music. Frank Bridge died on January 10, 1941.


Composer Title Date Action
Frank Bridge Scherzetto 07/20/2010 Play Add to playlist