Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 36
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 37

Fortunately he did not have to cope alone; Ethel was a constant support. On marrying Bridge, she had abandoned her prefessional career as a violinist and had channeled all her energy into looking after him, almost mothering him. Her personality both resembled and complemented his. She was a cheerful, bouncy person with an acute sense of fun and mimicry - her laughter could often be heard in the house - but she was never prickly, as Bridge chould be when he gave way to what he called his 'impetuous spasms'.9 She was too easy-going to be touchy, too pliant to make a fuss over small matters. It was Ethel who laid out Bridge's evening dress before a concert, not forgetting the three dress shirts he needed because he sweated so much, otherwise Bridge would panic at the last moment and overexcite himself. She was a 'comfortable' person who liked to stay in bed in the morning, a person who would make a point, when buying a new bath, of asking for one large enough to lay down in and have a good soak! Her philosophy of life was simple:

Poor old Soph, it's sad to think she can't feel like enjoying earthly - or earthy - pleasures, isn't it? For heaven's sake let us make the most of this life I say and let the next take care of itself.10

She always wanted to give pleasure, never denying anyone in need. You never left her house without a few cakes or pots of jam or chutney being pressed into your hands.

Her love of music acted as a stimulus for Bridge in different ways. Sometimes she did not agree with him over other composers' music - her views stemmed from an intuitive feel for the matter under discussion rather than an intellectual appraisal - but these disagreements were perceptive more often than not, and made Bridge reconsider his position. Above all, she never lost faith in him as a composer or conductor: she always brought sympathy and solace when needed and never blamed Bridge for his later lack of worldly success, although she was perfectly aware of the traits in his personality that contributed to this. Those people who remember her are full of admiration for her beneficial contribution to the Bridge household. She was, in Howard Ferguson's words, an 'absolute darling'11.

9 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 29 April 1927.
10 Letter, Ethel Bridge to Marjorie Fass, undated [October 1919]. Sophie Fass, one of Marjorie Fass's sisters, who had mothered her, became a nun and retired to a convent in Sidmouth, Devon.
11 Interview, Howard Ferguson with Trevor Bray, 12 October 1976.