The Late Works: 89
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Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The Late Works: 90

Bless you for being such a sympathetic and understanding friend, because I know that you feel my reactions to performances and for the life of me I can only get ecstatic when all the jig-saw puzzle - notes, tone, thoughts and general integrity of performance - is in complete order. I imagine it is not very often that I shall experience the great satisfaction of such first-class performances as the first one and the second with Kroll and Sheridan. Music comes in [sounds?] rather more spontaneously when executants have lived with a work for some time.

But, my dear, this is only ME talking. Those that did not know the work just couldn't imagine what I'm babbling on about; if they read these lines after being at the party they would say that I am, as ever, exigeant. And, most likely I expect too much from executants anyway. Don't please think me unbearable and ungrateful, there's a dear. I want performances as full of integrity as I hope the printed or written page possesses.

Of course, what it really boils down to is this. I am still too near that 'Sonata' not to be conscious of what goes wrong. In twenty years time, (if I'm here!) and the pianist chooses to start at the last bar and play backwards I may be able to warmly congratulate the executants if they finish with a 'dead heat'!!29

The composition of the Fourth String Quartet, the next major work Bridge completed, proved troublesome from the start:

As fast as it progresses I slash it to bits and begin again. A very tiresome and wearing business it is to create one day and destroy the next. Even more annoying when alternate days become alternate weeks. But knots of all kinds are in the wind and it can't be expected that they should not occur in one's own mind.30

29 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 20 May 1935.
30 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 21 July 1936. Paul Hindmarsh, in his Frank Bridge: A Thematic Catalogue, Faber, 1983, p 157, suggests that these comments could refer to sketched material that may not have originally been intended for the Fourth String Quartet.