Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 39
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 40

Bridge began composing the Piano Sonata during the Easter weekend of 1921 at a time when financial difficulties were causing him considerable worry. Admittedly immediately following the end of the war the future had appeared brighter. In 1919 the first set of Miniature Pastorals for piano sold nearly two thousand copies between February and May, and Bridge was wondering, tongue-in-cheek, whether another home, in Italy or Switzerland, might not be a possibility. Two years later the situation was quite different. Because of the slump, royalties had been falling by two-thirds each year, and this trend seemed like continuing indefinitely. In order to compensate for this shortfall in his income, Bridge had to teach, and often two days a week were devoted to this task with lessons given at such distant places as Hastings, Wadhurst near Tunbridge Wells, and at Heathfield School, Ascot. Bridge found it so irksome that all the teaching he was usually offered was to coach beginners on the violin.

The more he taught, the less time he could set aside for composing, a sacrifice he could ill afford at this time. The attempt to forge a new style was by no means easy, and during the immediate post-war years, there is a pronounced drop in Bridge's productivity. He was well aware of his predicament, as he made clear to Fox:

At one time I used to get fits of doing a tremendous number of things on end. Now I seem to have great gaps of time when I don't write at all. This is rather depressing but I'm hoping to get another 'mood' on again soon. 15

And this problem seemed even more acute when writing the Piano Sonata:

For the moment I have renounced that damn slow-arriving slow movement. Yesterday and this morning I got going with an unaccompanied 3-part song. Words by Thomas Dekker. [Golden Slumbers.] I am thankful I have completed even those few bars. Quite a relief, not to have fought for a fortnight over it.

And later:

And those blighted plason - marpenter - clumbers not to have finished the plooring and flastering. Thamn Dem!! Perhaps they might be able to try their hands at finishing my Piano Sonata or at least putting in a brick or two ... the pressing need of the moment is what to do in my next bar. I don't suppose the 'blissfuls' trouble themselves much about such a problem. That's why there is such an output of 'Melée' and 'Fantasque'.16

15 Letter, Frank Bridge to Douglas Fox, 12 April 1919.
16 Letters, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 22 May 1922 and October [1922] respectively. The references in the last two sentences are to Bliss and his early orchestral work, Mêlée Fantasque (1921).