Isolation: 65
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Isolation: 66

On an earlier occasion, Bridge had had other disagreeable things to say about Walton's music. Both Bridge's Third String Quartet and Walton's Façade were performed at the sixth festival of the ISCM at Siena during September 1928,11 and Bridge, writing to Mrs Coolidge, described the most newsworthy events in absorbing detail:

The concert at which a riot broke out - the Webern String Trio - was exciting while it lasted. I think it must have been anti-Viennese, although one sees that no Italian could hold himself in at a series of sounds that are entirely alien in their musical world, if indeed they are not equally alien to other nations. On the whole, the popular successes of the Festival were the works that broke no new ground whatsoever, and on the principle that the audience likes to feel flattered at recognizing rhythms and harmony that they consider should make music - in other words conventional music making them feel at home! - then, of course, one understands how it is.

One other incident occurred at the performance of 'Façade' by Walton - in the theatre. My own personal feelings happen to coincide with many of the foreigners in thinking this is concerned with a higher class cabaret and not much - if anything - to do with music itself. A great number of poems recited through a megaphone with accompanying music. Listening one heard no words and so one concentrated on the small orch[estra] which seemed to be performing stray items by the best jazz composers. About twenty or more numbers. All quite short. After ten of them - or thereabouts - subdued irritation began to show itself at the back of the stalls, and increased murmurs arose in the succeeding numbers. At the end of one number that ended rather abruptly, and before the murmurs of disapproval could begin, a voice called out 'Benino'! It was so ironical as to take the sting out of the antagonists who simply roared with laughter. On the whole a better way than that manifestation which followed on the von Webern Trio. At the same time it doesn't follow that a large percentage of that audience knew much about anything, although if I had come a long way for this Festival I should have felt pretty much the same at being presented with that entertainment. I am told many of the Sitwell poems in 'Façade' are first-rate, but as I couldn't hear them, or recognize more than half a dozen stray words, what could a foreigner get out [of] it? I got nothing, absolutely nothing.12

11 Berg served on the jury which chose the works for this festival, and his comment on Bridge's quartet, while back-handed, was not uncomplimentary: 'I have succeeded in causing Austria to be represented with dignity by Webern's Trio [Op 20] and the latest quartet [Third] by Zemlinsky. The members of the jury were perhaps not all aware that Zemlinsky can write a quartet movement not much worse than that by Bridge, that his inventive power is perhaps not less than that of Bloch, and that he is scarcely less up-to-date than Alfano, who mostly belong to those composers of whom two can he had for a penny'. Letter, Alban Berg to Arnold Schoenberg, 30 March 1928 (see M Carner: Alban Berg, Duckworth, 1975, p 67).
12 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 28 September 1928.