Isolation: 69
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Isolation: 70

On many occasions, Bridge felt despondent and saddened by his growing sense of isolation: it seemed as though he had been pushed on one side for some reason difficult to fathom. It must have been even more galling to see other musicians clearly less talented than himself receive more than their fair share of the honours. After one disappointment he wrote in a draft of a letter to Sir Hugh Allen:

The fact is - whatever my shortcomings - that I have been bitterly hurt at the almost complete indifference shown to my existence in London music - always excepting cases of emergency (!) conducting - that it has proved useless to care any longer. 'I don't mind' reflects the armour that has been forced on me and I realize how much alone I am when I observe the contentment with inferior standards and the degradingly-necessary wire pulling to obtain recognition, which means one's livelihood.19

Things could look very black indeed, but the picture was by no means entirely gloomy. Official recognition had been forthcoming in 1924 - before, of course, the radical change in Bridge's style had become apparent - when he was created a Fellow of the Royal College of Music, joining Elgar, Holst, Ireland and Goossens among composers, and Dan Godfrey, Landon Ronald, Wood and Stokowski among conductors. In addition, he was awarded the Cobbett Medal for 'services to chamber music' in 1929. Bridge could also rely on the support of at least a few perceptive musicians of his own generation who understood and approved his new style, and in 1930 the teenage Britten could proclaim with youthful candour and enthusiasm that Bridge was 'England's premier composer'.20

Britten had heard Bridge's The Sea at the Norwich Triennial Festival in 1924 and was 'knocked sideways'.21 Such was its success with the audience that Bridge was commissioned to compose a large-scale orchestral work, Enter Spring, for the following festival in 1927, Bridge conducting the first performance on 27 October. While at Norwich, Bridge stayed with Audrey Alston, who, after leaving the Royal College, had married a Norfolk rector, and it was she who introduced Britten, her viola pupil, to Bridge. Although declining to take part in the meeting initially, Bridge relented, and a preliminary inspection of Britten's music - he was still only thirteen - was arranged.

19 Letter, Frank Bridge to Sir Hugh Allen, 16 May 1933. In the event, this letter was not sent.
20 Letter, Benjamin Britten to Mr and Mrs R V Britten, 26 October 1930. See D Mitchell and P Reed, Letters from a Life: Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten, Faber, 1991, Vol 1, p 143.
21 B Britten, 'Britten Looking Back', Sunday Telegraph, 17 November 1963, p 9.