The Beloved Vagabonds: 7
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The Beloved Vagabonds: 8

Another member of 'The Beloved Vagabonds' was Ethel Elmore Sinclair, Bridge's future wife. She was born in Elmore, near Melbourne in Australia (on 10 July 1881); her father, Edwin, ran the leading general store of the town, Runnymede Store.12 The Sinclairs achieved a certain local notoriety when in the early 1900s their store was totally destroyed by a spectacular fire with burning drums of kerosene exploding in the air like rockets.13 The Sinclairs were also notable because of their musically-talented children. Ivy possessed a good contralto voice and was later to move to Germany, marry a German (whom Bridge disliked and called witheringly the 'most Prussian of Prussians'14), and earn her living there as a singer. Ethel showed considerable promise on the violin and won the South Province (Victoria) Scholarship, which made it possible for her to travel to London in April 1899 and study at the College. Like Bridge, she played in the College orchestra, sharing for a period the front desk of the second violins with him, and also took part in chamber music. It was Ethel who led the ensemble in the first performance of Bridge's Piano Quartet, Bridge himself playing the viola, and at other concerts when Bridge was performing. The only problem with College romances was that the men and women were segregated to some extent, the men climbing up one staircase to their lessons, the women up another. According to Harold Darke, the lady superintendent spent most of her time enforcing this regulation.15

From the viewpoint of those in authority, Bridge's period as a student at the College was a success. On his final report Rivarde described Bridge's violin playing as 'very good', and his ensemble work, 'most excellent'; Stanford considered his progress at composition was 'great'; Parry, as Director, wrote generously: 'I am very sorry Mr Bridge's time as a scholar at the College has come to an end. His career there has been most distinguished, and I heartily wish him distinguished success in the wider career before him'. There were prizes too. In March 1901 Bridge had been awarded the Arthur Sullivan Prize for composition, and in 1903 the Tagore Gold Medal 'for the most generally deserving pupil'. Here, clearly, was a student who had benefited a great deal from his six-and-a-half years' tuition.

12 The store was named after the station at Elmore, which, before 1876, was originally called Runnymede.
13 Information provided by Mr Garney, a local historian.
14 Letter, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 13 May 1922.
15 H Darke, 'Treacle Tart', Royal College of Music Magazine, Vol 50, No 3, 1954, p 95.