Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 46
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 47

The situation was often aggravated by Mrs Coolidge's idiosyncratic behaviour; she would decide on the spur of the moment what to do and frequently change her mind with little notice. In time this became annoying, and behind her back Bridge called her the Dowager Empress when she came to Sunrise Cottage to give her 'orders' in the morning. However, the most trying circumstance of living with Mrs Coolidge was her deafness. Naturally, the Bridges felt sympathy for her, but having to shout sentences again and again throughout the day became exhausting. Later during the visit this problem was partially solved by going to the cinema in the evening; at least conversation could lapse then.

Bridge's attitude towards the festival was ambivalent. He was pleased and flattered that Mrs Coolidge would want to include one of his works in it and generally show a keen interest in his music, but he also recognized that Mrs Coolidge's motives in holding the festival were not entirely ingenuous. Any offer of further help was held at arm's length:

Had a jaunt in Sousie's electric brougham the other morning. The conversation eventually turned on to the question of how I was going to turn my affairs round so as to get time to compose, and then she said she would like to co-operate and help me do it and I had to carefully say that I couldn't accept it. Nothing of any definite shape was offered or considered at all, but I know in my innermost being that the last thing in this world that I want is to be under obligation to anybody - and above all to E.S.C. [Mrs Coolidge].

The more I see of this wee corner, the more do I think that most musicians have got a grab-the-dollar stunt as their first aim in life. It makes me sick. How much of the musical activity of the rich in this country is for Music itself I couldn't hazard a guess at this moment, but I think I'm going to find that it is vanity and self gratification of the first order. Perhaps I'm wrong. All the same, there's E.S.C. up in Maine a fortnight ago, hears a concert of Kneisel's pupils ... is fired with the idea of presenting the same thing here, and of course goes to all the expense of all the peoples' fares, special coach, hotel bills, etc., etc., and what for? I say again, WHAT FOR?? - ??7

7 Letter, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 4-5 September 1923.