Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 43
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 44

For her festival in 1923, Mrs Coolidge decided that both the performers and the music should be predominantly English. Eugene Goossens was invited for the performance of his new Sextet, commissioned by Mrs Coolidge; Rebecca Clarke for the performance of another Coolidge commission, her Rhapsody for cello and piano; and Lionel Tertis, Myra Hess and the London String Quartet were to be present as performers. A work by Bridge was also chosen, his Sextet, and the Bridges attended the festival as Mrs Coolidge's guests.

Bridge's name had begun to appear on American programmes during the First World War - the Zoellner Quartet included the Novelletten in the programmes for its tour of the United States and Canada in 1916, for instance - and at the 1920 Pittsfield Festival the London String Quartet had played his First String Quartet, possibly the first time Mrs Coolidge had heard any of Bridge's music. When she visited England two years later, the Bridges were introduced to her at a Sunday afternoon tea-party given by Mrs Winthrop Rogers, wife of the publisher, on 28 May (1922),1 and a private performance of the Sextet was arranged on Mrs Collidge's behalf a month later. From the first, Bridge and Mrs Coolidge enjoyed each other's company. No doubt both of them realized how mutually advantageous their friendship could be. Bridge knew of Mrs Coolidge's reputation as a patroness of chamber music, and for Mrs Coolidge, Bridge was another composer of distinction to add to her ever-expanding list of musician-friends. Yet all this would have counted for nothing had they found intuitively that they disliked each other. As it was, their friendship flourished, so much so that Mrs Coolidge invited both Frank and Ethel, as well as Mrs Rogers, to join her on a motor tour of France the following July. Starting from Paris, they visited Chartres, Tours, Nantes, continuing with a circular trip through southern Brittany and then returning to Paris. By the time the Bridges set sail for England, Mrs Coolidge had become 'Sousie'.2 She followed them across the channel a week or so later and another tour was arranged, to Bath and then on to Devon, before she departed for America on 24 August.

1 Winthrop Rogers published several of Bridge's smaller works, particularly songs and piano pieces. The family owned a house in America near Pittsfield and hence near Mrs Coolidge.
2 In return, Mrs Coolidge called Bridge 'Twozee', much to Ethel Bridge's disgust.