Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 45
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 46

On 22 August 1923, the Bridges set sail from Southampton on the Majestic, bound for New York. Ethel suffered terribly from seasickness and spent a good deal of time below deck, but Frank enjoyed the trip 'hugely'. He was greatly impressed by the strength and performance of the boat, with its many amenities, including the swimming pool - 'a perfect knockout of a bath' - and by the changing moods of the sea. While he indulged in what he called 'meal-itis', Ethel, when on deck, was summing up the other passengers:

I can't tell you what the dress parade every day is like and I've never seen such huge women, and so terribly overdressed, or on the whole such men either ... and the sound of their American-German-Jew-Millionaire voices is the most raucous grating sound you ever heard ... Thank goodness we don't know anybody - except Rubinstein and we only meet him for a few moments each day. He's on his way to Mexico for 6 weeks' concerts and will be in New York when we are there.6

At New York they were met by Cecil Forsyth, a friend from College days, but there was little time for reminiscences before the Bridges were whisked off by Mrs Coolidge on a motor trip, the itinerary of which included several of the beauty-spots between New York and Pittsfield. On arrival at the latter they stayed briefly at a local hotel before being moved into Sunrise Cottage, one of the buildings near the Coolidge's house, built for housing guests at the Festival. An important early meeting was with the Festival Quartet - William Kroll, Karl Kreuter, Edward Kreiner and Willem Willeke - and Bridge enjoyed listening to them rehearse a Haydn quartet and Hindemith's Third String Quartet, another important festival work.

For the next few weeks before the festival the days passed quickly. There were frequent motor-trips to see the local sights, several parties, and many opportunities for listening to music. For much of the time the Bridge's enjoyed themselves, feeling a natural sympathy for many of the people they met, but in their letters back home there were complaints about how tired they were. Although Bridge was himself by no means lacking in vitality, even he paled before the prodigious energy of Mrs Coolidge. She had an almost hyperactive temperament, rarely sitting down to relax but always on the move, and as the Bridges were her guests they felt duty-bound to join in. There always seemed to be something to do and no time to recuperate.

6 Letter, Frank and Ethel Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 22-7 August 1923.