Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 38
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 39

The death of Catherine in the Lusitania was only instance of Bridge being personally affected by the tragic events of the war. Another friend killed was Frederick Kelly, an Australian pianist and composer, who, after studying the piano with Ivan Knorr in Frankfurt, had settled in London. He acted as an adviser for the Classical Concert Society, becoming its chairman in 1912, and keenly promoted modern music, his main interest. It was Kelly who performed Scriabin's Fifth Piano Sonata at the Ravel concert on 17 December 1913. Bridge took part in a memorial concert held for Kelly in the Wigmore Hall on 2 May 1919, conducting the Small Queen's Hall Orchestra in, among other works, Kelly's Elegy (1915) for string orchestra and harps, composed at Gallipoli in memory of Rupert Brooke.

Another upsetting experience concerned Douglas Fox, a talented young organist and pianist who had won the Challen Gold Medal for piano-playing at the Royal College of Music in 1912. Fox was badly wounded during the war, losing his right arm, and it was Fox for whom Bridge composed the Three Improvisations (1918) for the left hand only. Although this group is the least adventurous of the piano pieces composed during the war, Bridge was a little worried that Fox would not like them. He explained: 'I doubt whether you will be attracted when you try the pieces through at first, but just work a little at them and then I fondly hope they will stand up on their own legs and smile at you'.14

One of the greatest losses Bridge sustained was the death of his friend Ernest Bristow Farrar, as with Kelly, killed in action. Farrar had won an open scholarship to the Royal College of Music in 1905, studying the organ with Parratt and composition with Stanford. Like Bridge, he won the Arthur Sullivan Prize (1906) and also another award, the Grove Scholarship (1907). Again, like Bridge, he benefited from the Carnegie Trust scheme; both his English Pastoral Impressions and three choral songs, Out of Doors, were published by the Trust. As a tribute, Bridge dedicated his Piano Sonata to Farrar, and it is in this work that he turned wholeheartedly away from his earlier style, attempting rigorously a large-scale work in his new idiom for the first time.

14 Letter, Frank Bridge to Douglas Fox, 12 April 1919.