Isolation: 71
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
Isolation: 72

Bridge continued to support Britten during his College years to the extent of phoning Ireland to convey Britten's unhappiness when, because of Ireland's absences examining for the Associated Board, lessons were being missed. Another contretemps involved Vaughan Williams. Bridge wanted Britten to hear a performance of his Two Psalms (1932) so that he could assess aurally the exact effect of the notes he had written, but 'Vaughan Williams claimed that the [College] singers weren't good enough, to which Bridge retorted that it was up to the R. C. M. to have a chorus good enough and that he ought to use his influence'.24

Bridge's influence on Britten extended far beyond his lessons. There were frequent outings to concerts when Bridge wanted Britten to hear a particular conductor or composition that he felt would be of mutual interest. Thus they sat together to hear Furtwängler and Koussevitzky, and also at the first performance in England of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms - despite the general consensus that Stravinsky had misfired, Bridge was adamant that it was a masterpiece. They also attended the London première of Walton's Belshazzar's Feast together, the Berg memorial concert on 1 May 1936 with Webern conducting, and two Schoenberg performances - Pierrot Lunaire, and at a previous concert, his Variations for Orchestra, Bridge introducing Britten to Schoenberg during the interval (on 8 February 1933). In addition, Britten hardly ever missed a concert at which Bridge conducted, especially when there was the added bonus of hearing a Bridge performance, such as at the BBC concert on 8 March 1931, when Bridge's orchestral version of his first two Tagore Songs was given; 'marvellous creations' Britten noted in his diary.25

24 B Britten, 'Britten Looking Back', Sunday Telegraph, 17 November 1963, p 9.
25 The relevant entries from Britten's diaries quoted in D Mitchell and P Reed, Letters from a Life: Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten, Faber, 1991, provide a fascinating record of the Bridge/Britten relationship.