The End ... and a Beginning: 97
Site Map
Title graphic: Frank Bridge: A Life in Brief
The End ... and a Beginning: 98

Although conditions for composing were hardly ideal, Bridge managed to complete one more orchestral work by August 1940, the overture Rebus. Bridge conceived the work originally as a musical portrayal of how rumours spread, becoming progressively distorted and transformed, but he wished at all costs to distance the work from any associations with the war, as he explained to Mrs Coolidge:

For some time past I have been toying with the idea of an Orchestral Work entitled 'Rumour', but as it is nowadays associated with treachery and brutality - amongst other loathsome and horrifying things - that intention has gone overboard. There is every need not to underline or to reflect too much upon the distressing emotions with which everyone is assailed.8

The title was therefore changed to Rebus.

The first performance was scheduled for 25 September at a Queen's Hall Promenade Concert, but this had to be abandoned because of the war with the result that Bridge never heard the work. He began sketching (and almost completed) a movement for string orchestra in November and December, and for the last three weeks before his death worked on the page-proofs for Phantasm. He was his usual self at lunch-time on 10 January 1941, but, after feeling unwell, went to bed and then to sleep, dying of heart failure in the evening, caused by hardening of the arteries.

There were several tributes to his memory. The Menges String Quartet gave a performance of his Second String Quartet and Sextet during one of the Myra Hess Lunch-Times Concerts at the National Gallery on 31 January, and Rebus was performed for the first time, by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Wood, on 23 February. On 8 March, Boult conducted a performance of There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook at a Royal Philharmonic Society Concert. Three days later, Mrs Coolidge presented a memorial concert at her auditorium in the Library of Congress, including the Second String Quartet, the Sextet, and the Violin Sonata, the sonata performed by the same artists - Kroll and Sheridan - who, in Bridge's estimation, had played the work in America so well in 1934.

8 Letter, Frank Bridge to Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, 18 May 1940.