Frank Bridge was born in Brighton and studied at the Royal College of Music from 1899 to 1903 under Charles Stanford. His main instrument was the viola, which he played in a number of string quartets. He also conducted, sometimes standing in for Henry Wood. Eventually, he focussed more and more on composition, receiving the patronage of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. His early style is harmonically rich with English sounding melodic lines, but he was deeply disturbed by the First World War which marked a radical change in his musical language. He experimented with less functional harmonies, and even used elements of the serialism of the Second Viennese School. He is mostly remembered now for privately tutoring Benjamin Britten in composition, who was a great advocate of his music.
First published in 1912, this set of pieces was dedicated to one of Bridge’s violin pupils, Cynthia Lubbock. These four character pieces are eloquently descriptive, and perfectly match their titles. The Meditation is calm and serene, while the Spring Song is light and flowing. The Lullaby has a long, flowing melody over lush harmonies, while the Country Dance trips along fleetly. Bridge wrote practically no music for wind instruments, so this is a wonderful opportunity to become acquainted with a new composer.