The Late Works: 85
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The Late Works: 86

Thus Bridge conducted the first performance of Phantasm on 10 January 1934 at the Queen's Hall with the BBC Orchestra and with Britten turning the pages for Kathleen Long. The next day Britten noted in his diary, 'F.B. has execrable notices of Phantasm in every paper', having read no doubt the following:

We wish it were possible to say something in commendation of this work, but, apart from an effective, if not very original, climax at the end, the music is as vague as its title. The material of it is undistinguished and its treatment turgid. Miss Kathleen Long did what was possible to make the elaborate pianoforte part sound interesting.23

Yet Bridge, as he reported to Mrs Coolidge, was very pleased with the outcome:

Last Thursday's papers were mostly monotonous in their complete disapproval - euphemistic expression - of the concert on Wed Jan 10. But I have the greatest pleasure in saying that Phantasm, with Kathleen Long playing really brilliantly and sympathetically, plus the BBC Orch[estra] at the top of its form, was one of the very best performances of any work with Orch[estra] that ever I had. Somehow it gave K[athleen] L[ong] the chance to show that she is not only a player of Mozart Concertos, and she played with such conviction that it might have been a tenth performance instead of a first! You see by this that I am quite happy about it. There remains only the necessity of living-down the usual prejudice against anything that is not known. Not that there is ever - or seldom - universal approval of anything after a first performance.24

The second performance, a broadcast three weeks later (on 4 February), was unforeseen. This had been the proposed date for the first performance of Oration, but the soloist, Lauri Kennedy, found himself at the last moment unable to play the solo part and therefore Phantasm was substituted. As a consequence the première of Oration was delayed yet further, and, following refusals from Salmond and Suggia to perform the work (see above), this was a particularly bitter blow for Bridge. It was not until 17 January 1936 that he managed to secure Oration's first performance, with Florence Hooton as the soloist and Bridge conducting the BBC Orchestra. According to Bridge, Hooton 'imbibed every ounce of what I wanted her to do, [and] played like a fine artist. Fancy a cellist playing always in tune! As well as with great understanding'.25 Bridge had told her that the original title 'Concerto Elegiaco' had been changed to Oration because the work was an expression and outcry against the futility of war.

23 The Times, 11 January 1934. For Britten's diary entry for 11 January 1934, see D Mitchell and P Reed, Letters from a Life: Selected Letters and Diaries of Benjamin Britten, Faber, Vol. 1, p 211.
24 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 14 January 1934.
25 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 20 January 1936.