Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 54
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Mrs Coolidge and the American Experience: 55

The last fortnight of the visit - the Bridges left New York for England on 1 December (1923) - was the least strenuous part, although there were two further excursions to cities outside New York. George Eastman (1854-1932), founder in 1882 of the Kodak photographic company and subsequently the Eastman School of Music at Rochester University, invited Bridge to join him for a few days in order to visit the music school. Goossens had intimated to Bridge that Eastman might have some post in mind for him, but throughout the visit nothing was mentioned, and in any case Bridge would have declined any such offer.26 The other journey was a return visit to Philadelphia, principally to hear the orchestra. Bridge had been told that this was the best orchestra in America at the time, and to his great pleasure it was a reputation he could endorse wholeheartedly. He was very impressed by the glorious quality of the tone - in contrast to the velvety sound of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia's was like silk - the neatness and unanimity, the close attention to detail and ensemble playing.27

All in all the effect of this American visit on Bridge was entirely beneficial. The contrast between English and American life, both musical and in general, was made clear to him and, despite the obvious advantages both in the superior quality of the American orchestras he heard and in the financial rewards that could be gained in America, Bridge resolved to remain for the rest of his life in England. It was only in the more relaxed atmosphere of English life that he could flourish as a composer; it was only in the particular physical environment of the South Downs around Friston that he could write his greatest works. The hardships that he had borne, some of which he would have to continue to bear, had to be accepted as the necessary disadvantages of the English situation. These disadvantages Bridge thought preferable to those in America - the commercialism of American musical life, the hectic pace of life there in general.

26 Letter, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 21 November 1923.
27 Letter, Frank Bridge to Marjorie Fass, 21 November 1923.