Frank Bridge : the string quartets
This study traces the stylistic development of the string quartets. The opening chapter shows the way that his personal idiom emerged in the earliest works. It also explains the analytical approach that has been used. The concept of symmetrical orderings fusing separate elements has been evident in music from all stages of Bridge's output. Overall tonal relationships have linked with inner tonal relationships as well as thematic ideas and chord structures. In addition, symmetry has drawn together the two aspects of Bridge's language, the traditional and the radical, and shown how the way that they are balanced is subtly changed in the course of his development as a composer. The music is explained from two approaches to symmetry, linear and circular. The ascending chromatic scale can be divided symmetrically by a number of intervals, notably seconds and thirds and tritones. Symmetrical orderings of two or more of these intervals are commonly found. The twelve semitones can also be arranged as a circle of fifths and it is this that has been most significant to the study. By adding tonal definition to these pitches, the circle of fifths explains this aspect of the music and also how certain pitches are interchangeable with one another. Therefore, the circle of fifths has also been a useful tool in explaining Bridge's concept of extended tonality. The main part of the study discusses the second and third quartets in depth as they represent the peak of Bridge's creative output and are at the centre of important stylistic changes. The final chapter briefly shows the way that his language continued to develop in the abandoned work and the fourth, and last. quartet.