Established: 26
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Established: 27

As we have seen, the critics in general had responded kindly to Bridge's earlier compositions. The Sea was a success, and so were a handful of chamber compositions. However, from the first performance of the Dance Poem at the Queen's Hall on 16 March 1914, Bridge himself conducting, the enthusiasm of the critics wavered. It seemed that Bridge was no longer content to produce further works in the style of The Sea and the Phantasy Piano Quartet, but intended to expand his idiom to include new elements, some of which were by no means immediately attractive. The Musical Times critic wrote:

As to Mr Frank Bridge's new 'Dance Poem' - which, as the programme stated, is intended to depict the emotions which a dancer feels in her movements - with great regret we find it impossible to say that it afforded any pleasure. It is bizarre, and both as regards its form and material it is designed apparently to amaze and startle. No doubt this is to be well in the fashion, but all the same the friends of the composer will hope that he will revert to the style in which he has distinguished himself.11

Such a reception was hardly helpful in promoting further performances of the Dance Poem and as it happened Bridge had to wait nearly twenty years before another materialised.

Other works met with similar misgivings. When the Two Poems for orchestra were first performed on New Year's Day 1917, Bridge conducting the Queen's Hall Orchestra, they

were listened to with interest if not complete satisfaction. It seems that this clever composer is acquiring idioms and a peculiar means of giving vent to his feelings that are not easy for ordinary folk to understand or enjoy. Of course this may be owing to the shortcomings of the ordinary folk.12

And the Four Characteristic Pieces for piano, composed in the same year, were 'clever works', attractive only to pianists with a 'liking for the pungent and the bizarre'.13

11 Musical Times, April 1914, p 256.
12 Musical Times, February 1917, p 82.
13 Musical Times, January 1918, p 20. In both this and the previous review, 'clever' appears to be a euphemism for 'craftsmanlike but sterile'.