Frank Bridge (26 February 1879 – 10 January 1941) was an English composer and violist.
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 with the Piano Sonata, were marked by a radical change in musical language (Payne, Hindmarsh, and Foreman 2001). 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).
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 and especially Alexander Scriabin.citation needed 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 (1922–25). 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.citation needed
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).
- Hindmarsh, Paul. 1980. Liner notes for The Organ Music of Frank Bridge. Stuart Campbell, organ. (LP Recordig, 1 disc) Pearl SHE 545. Kent: Pearl Records.
- Mitchell, Donald (ed.). 1991. Letters from a Life: The Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten 1913–1976, assistant editor Philip Reed; associate editors Rosamund Strode, Kathleen Mitchell, and Judy Young. Vol. 1: 1923–1939. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 9780571152216.
- Payne, Anthony, Paul Hindmarsh, and Lewis Foreman. 2001. "Bridge, Frank". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- The Lied and Art Song Texts Page created and maintained by Emily Ezust Original texts of the songs of Bridge translated in various languages.
- Free scores by Frank Bridge at the International Music Score Library Project
- Barnett, Rob. "Frank Bridge (1879-1941): Composer, Courageous Revolutionary and Pacifist". MusicWeb International (Accessed 8 November 2012).
- Frank Bridge pages Includes catalog of works, selective discography, biography
- Frank Bridge-sound-bites and discussion of several of chamber music works
- "Title index to songs and shorter instrumental works published by Thames Publishing". The Frank Bridge Bequest. Retrieved 2008-02-17. Supplements the above list of major works.
- 'Britten and Bridge', lecture and performance investigating the relation between the two composers, Gresham College, 5 February 2008 (available for download as text, audio or video file).
- Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief by Trevor Bray Biography and complete list of works
- "Bridge, Frank". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). 1922.