Personalities and the Piano Sonata: 42
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Title graphic: Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience
Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 43

The three main problems that Bridge had to face during the immediate post-war years - financial insecurity, concern about his creativity, and the painful adjustment that had to be made regarding the new post-war world - were inseparable and appeared depressingly insoluble. How could he ensure that he had sufficient time for composition yet also be able to earn enough money for living expenses? A solution to the problem came not from England, where he was well-known, nor from Australia - he proposed to emigrate and start a new life there - but from quite a different quarter, America, where he was almost unknown.

Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953) was, in the words of Cobbett, the 'Lady Bountiful of chamber music'. She devoted to music a good portion of her fortune, which she inherited as a Chicago canned-pork heiress. In 1918 she inaugurated the Berkshire Festival at her home near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a three-day event devoted to chamber music, with emphasis placed on modern compositions, although some of the classics were also performed. To this festival she invited her guests from all over the world, at her own expense. In addition, she instituted prize competitions and commissioned many compositions from the leading composers of her time. Following the 1924 festival she devoted a sum for the purpose of building a concert-hall at the Library of Congress, Washington, and made provision for the establishment of festival concerts to take place there annually. Her interest in music extended beyond that of the layperson as she was both a composer in her own right and a performer, taking part in some of the festival concerts as an accompanist. She received the Cobbett Medal for 'services to chamber music' in 1926.