The Beloved Vagabonds: 6
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The Beloved Vagabonds: 7

Bridge's compositions written as a student of Stanford, while not youthful masterpieces, are not negligible, and several were considered eligible to be played at College concerts. Thus the Piano Trio in D minor (14 November 1900), String Quartet in B flat (14 March 1901), String Quintet in E minor (4 December 1901), Berceuse for soprano and orchestra (20 June 1902), The Hag for baritone and orchestra (9 December 1902) and the Piano Quartet (23 January 1903) were all given first performances at College. The preponderance of chamber music in this group was Bridge's own choice;9 his sympathy for the genre was already deep-seated.

Bridge was surrounded not only by a distinguished array of talented composers but was equally lucky in his fellow instrumentalists, many of whom subsequently achieved considerable reputations. Among pianists there were James Friskin and Harold Samuel, while string players included Jessie Grimson, May Harrison, Edward Mason, Marie Motto, Ernest Tomlinson, Vera and Charles Warwick-Evans, Haydn Wood and the three players who, with Bridge, were soon to comprise the English String Quartet - Thomas Morris, Herbert Kinsey and Ivor James. Several of these, including Friskin, Samuel and the English Quartet members, belonged to an informal club called 'The Beloved Vagabonds', founded by Audrey Alston,10 entrance to which was granted only to musicians, not mere performers. The club meetings were held two or three times a term at a studio in Holland Park and the club members simply performed music for the love of doing so. Between each item there was much talking and friendly discussion, and on occasion, according to the singer, Clive Carey: 'Harold [Samuel] would go to the piano and throw off a brilliant nonsense in improvisation, or the quartet would join him in some exquisite impromptu fooling which seemed to me to be as near as could be to perfection in comedy'.11

9 E Bainton in 'Sir Charles Stanford and his pupils', Royal College of Music Magazine, Vol 20, No 2, 1924, p 55, notes that 'we wrote what we pleased and he [Stanford] contented himself with criticising what was placed before him'.
10 Audrey Alston's son, John, owns a plaque that commemorates 'The Beloved Vagabonds'. (Interview, John Alston with Trevor Bray, 19 November 1979.)
11 C Carey, 'The Beloved Vagabonds', Royal College of Music Magazine, Vol 50, No 3, 1954, p 93.