Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 37
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 38

One of the most testing times for Bridge was during the First World War. He was a pacifist, typically not an 'aggressive' but a 'gentle' one, 12 and his reaction to the inhumanity of the war was one of the most important factors that contributed to the development of his later style. Ironically, during the war itself, the effect this had on his music could pass unnoticed by the casual observer. For instance, which characteristics of the warmly lyrical Second String Quartet (composed in 1914-15) could be considered to be influenced by the war? Or of Summer (also 1914-15), a magical evocation of the beauty of an English summer's day? Or of the second of the Two Poems (1915), with its quotation from Richard Jefferies, the nineteenth-century author and essayist on rural topics: 'How beautiful a delight to make the world joyous! The song shall never be silent, the dance never still, the laugh should sound like water which runs for ever'?

It is only when one turns to the restrained, poignant Lament for strings, also composed in 1915, and dedicated 'to Catherine, aged 9, Lusitania', drowned through the action of enemy torpedoes, that any direct influence of the war is discernable. Bridge preferred not to dwell on the terrifying, harrowing events that were unfolding day by day, but continue to celebrate and uphold the values of beauty and humanity, and attempt to restore hope in a world that seemed to be destroying itself. He believed in peace wholeheartedly: 'peace is going to be a paradise'13 as he put it. Those works in which Bridge came to terms with his feelings about the war were yet to come.

12 Britten's description in 'Britten Looking Back', Daily Telegraph, 17 November 1963, p 9.
13 Letter, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, undated [before 1918].