Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 50
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 51

Throughout the tour, Bridge was impressed by the American orchestras. The members of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra were clearly well-trained by their principal conductor, Nikolai Sokoloff, and responded to Bridge's conducting with friendliness and enthusiasm. The performances of The Sea went well, especially the quieter parts of the suite, and the large audiences for the two performances were most attentive. But Bridge was well aware that the technical perfection Sokoloff was trying to achieve with the orchestra had at least one drawback:

I see there is a kind of rehearsing which aims at getting flawless playing and which absolutely kills the life in any music. I believe there is a point beyond which no single member in the orchestra plays naturally. And yet there must be a controlling spirit which organizes the quantity and quality of sound and the speed of a movement. In the main, the real importance of rehearsing is making the players acquainted with their notes and the various corners that they will come up against when they are playing with certain sections of the Orch[estra] and when they are alone.16

At Boston the orchestra was even better - 'Of course, they can play "The Sea" like eating poached eggs'17 - they had the same precision as the Cleveland orchestra but a more velvety sound. An added bonus was that the Bridges both liked Pierre Monteux, its conductor, immensely. As at Cleveland the audiences listened carefully and applauded at length but Bridge found an even greater sympathy in Boston. Its strong English connections had much to do with this, but in addition Bridge was refreshed by the absence of commercialism in Boston's musical life. Everyone - the players, the conductor, the orchestra's administrators - appeared to be working for the sake of music rather than for any self-centred motives. Bridge wanted to return home immediately and write a symphony particularly for the Boston orchestra.

16 Letter, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 17 October 1923.
17 Letter, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 25[4] October 1923.