The Beloved Vagabonds: 1
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The Beloved Vagabonds: 2

Frank attended school at York Place (later called Varndean). His father had provided him with violin lessons since he was six,2 and he continued his violin studies at the Brighton School of Music from the age of twelve, when he also began to compose.3 The Brighton School of Music had been founded in 1883 by Dr Alfred King and Robert Taylor, two local musicians, and when Bridge was a pupil it was a flourishing concern with sixty staff teaching both instruments and theory. Frederick Corder, the composer and subsequently teacher of Holbrooke, Bantock and Bax at the Royal Academy of Music in London, gave lessons at the school.

After Bridge had mastered the preliminary stages of playing the violin, he was allowed to perform in his father's orchestra, and as his music studies progressed further his practical music activities became more varied. He was asked to arrange some of the music; he was told to try other instruments whenever the need arose, filling in their parts as best he could; he even deputized for his father when the latter was indisposed. Increasing proficiency on the violin also enabled him to take part in the regular rehearsals of the Bridge's family quartet, and it was here that the foundations of his life-long love of chamber music were laid.

Opportunities to hear music in Brighton of a more serious vein than that at the Empire were not lacking. The Brighton Sacred Harmonic Society, under the direction of Taylor, provided a series of choral and orchestral concerts; chamber music could be heard at the Brighton Musical Fraternity (Taylor and King were both vice-chairmen) and the Saturday Popular Concerts; and there were also visits by the Carl Rosa Opera Company, London orchestras and even foreign orchestras on tour in England. There was thus a good deal to interest a young musician, and Bridge was thankful in later life for the more than adequate grounding he received during his early years at Brighton. His violin playing reached a high enough standard, in fact, for him to win a place to study at the Royal College of Music in London, aged 17.

2 His father made him practice so hard as a boy that Bridge's back developed a hump. (Interview, Elizabeth Bridge with Trevor Bray, 24 August 1978.)
3 The other Bridge children to inherit an interest in music were Nellie, who possessed a fine voice, and William, who became a professional cellist, playing in theatre and concert orchestras in London for a living.