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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Established: 28

For a composer whose music had become noted for its accessibility - amateurs had welcomed particularly his effective but technically relatively easy Miniatures for piano trio (c. 1908) - Bridge's stylistic development, glimpsed in varying degrees in these more recent works, seemed a betrayal of what he had previously stood for. The problem was compounded, too, by the fact that in some of his new compositions the radical elements were not so clearly obvious, and when this was the case, critics continued their former praise. Summer, following its first performance at a Royal Philharmonic Society Concert on 13 March 1916, with Bridge conducting was described as 'on the whole, an agreeable and dainty work';14 the Cello Sonata (1913-7) was 'fine'.

Bridge also continued to compose music in the vein of the Miniatures, providing listeners and amateur players with pieces that were not too demanding either aesthetically or technically. He described the Two Old English Songs for string quartet (1916), as 'simple, and not in the least pretentious and they fulfil a purpose of fostering an interest in chamber music among those who cannot yet appreciate more serious music'.15 The two sets of Miniature Pastorals for piano (1917/21) were composed as easy teaching pieces. These less adventurous works were reviewed with enthusiasm by the critics, as were the large group of songs that were published between 1916 and 1919. Some of these had just been composed, but several had been written earlier - Blow, Blow thou Winter Wind, The Devon Maid and Go not Happy Day were composed in 1903, Fair Daffodils in 1905, and so on. Such sylistic diversity as exhibited in this varied group of pieces, from Go not, Happy Day to the Dance Poem, was bewildering. Why had Bridge's style become so fragmented? Had he lost his way? Furthermore, if one chose to ignore certain works, Bridge could still appear to be in essence the unproblematic, accessible composer of the previous decade. In which case, such a work as the Dance Poem could be viewed as a temporary aberration, an unhappy miscalculation that could be swept under the carpet without further ado.

14 Musical Times, April 1916, p 200.
15 Quoted in P J Nolan, Musical America, 17 November 1923, p 32.