The Late Works: 87
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The Late Works: 88

Following the composition of Oration and Phantasm, two concertos, Bridge returned to chamber music, completing the Violin Sonata27 on 21 November 1932. The first run-through took place during the Christmas holidays and on Christmas Day itself, Bridge and Brosa played the work four times in all! Mrs Coolidge had no qualms at accepting the dedication of the sonata, and plans for its first performance were soon under way, Mrs Coolidge hoping to include it in a concert given at a reception for Harriet Cohen, a date during the early summer (1933) having been suggested. Bax's recent String Quintet was also to be included in the programme. However, with the continuing financial depression, she finally decided to abandon the idea of visiting England when on her visit to the Continent that year and plans to perform the Violin Sonata were frustratingly shelved.

Bridge was understandably downcast. He suggested journeying to Italy to see her, but she forbad this as she was staying in private houses as a guest rather than in hotels (thereby hoping to save on expenses), visiting Respighi, Malipiero and Toscanini in turn. Nonetheless, as it happened, Bridge did travel to Italy. In a nasty accident during her tour, Mrs Coolidge broke a collarbone and some ribs, and was bed-ridden for a time. Bridge joined her in Milan as quickly as he could; he was glad to amuse the patient with his best bedside chatter, and stayed until he had seen her 'turn the right corner'.

Another plan to perform the Violin Sonata during the autumn, this time with Myra Hess as Brosa's partner, also had to be abandoned, and it was not until the following January (1934) that the long-awaited first performance materialized. At a Royal Philharmonic chamber concert on the 18th, Brosa and Harold Samuel gave the première, a 'splendid show' in Bridge's opinion. The Times critic disagreed:

Mr Samuel and Mr Brosa realized that Bridge's new sonata is not a work to be taken lightly. Its jagged opening theme Allegro energico sufficiently announces its character, and it is a work of great complexity which demands the utmost skill in its interpreters. It is of the species of music which is called 'contemporary', and only a brilliantly constructed Scherzo movement condescended to immediate attractiveness. After this the return of the tortuous manner of the first Allegro produced a laboured climax. Save for the Scherzo the two instruments seemed to be given very little of that opportunity for playing into one another's hands which is the essence of the duet Sonata.28

27 Bridge composed over one hundred bars of a violin sonata in 1904 before abandoning it.
28 The Times, 19 January 1934. Bridge, commenting on this review, wrote: 'When the "Times" uses the word "contemporary" in a sniffy and superior way then one had best ignore it.' Letter to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 7 February 1934.