Biography 2: Becoming Established
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3: Increasing Isolation ~ 1918-1941

As a pacifist, Bridge was deeply affected emotionally by the First World War, and financial difficulties followed in its wake with the slump in 1921. To compensate for the dwindling income generated from his royalties, he had often to devote two days a week to teaching violin pupils, many only beginners, with lessons given at such distant places as Hastings, Wadhurst near Tunbridge Wells, and at Heathfield School, Ascot. There was little time for composition. However, a meeting with Mrs Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the American patroness of chamber music, changed all this. She invited the Bridges to join her at the Berkshire Festival held at her home near Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1923, and combine this with a conducting tour which had Cleveland, Boston, Detroit and New York on its itinerary. By the end of the visit, Bridge accepted Mrs Coolidge's very generous offer to provide him with a substantial annuity for the rest of his life.

'Friston Field' being built in 1923

'Friston Field' being built in 1923

Meanwhile, the Bridges' new house, 'Friston Field', was being built at Friston, situated on the main coast road between Eastbourne and Brighton high on the South Downs. Here, following the completion of the Piano Sonata, which had taken almost three years to write (1921-4), Bridge composed a group of works dedicated to Mrs Coolidge, including the Third and Fourth String Quartets (1927, 1937), the Piano Trio (1929) and the Violin Sonata (1932).

Commissions to compose orchestral works - There is a Willow Grows Aslant a Brook (Proms, 1927) and the Rhapsody, Enter Spring (Norwich Triennial Festival, 1927) - were welcome, although performances were few. So too were those of his other larger-scale works of the period, Oration for cello and orchestra (1930) and Phantasm for piano and orchestra (1931). On his return from the 1923 visit to the USA, Bridge had relinquished almost all his teaching and performing commitments. He felt isolated and unappreciated, although he was invited to act from time to time during the 1930s as a guest conductor for the BBC. From 1932 Bridge suffered from high blood pressure and a weak heart, which seriously effected his powers of concentration, resulting in a diminshed output and finally to his death on 10 January 1941.