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The musical careers of the Sedgwick and Bridge families of Bury Lancashire 1866 – 1943

Please click on the link to access the Sedgwick and Bridge timeline

This introduction and the timeline have been compiled by Frank Rutherford

The violinist Henry Sedgwick (1853-1909) spent all his life in Bury, Lancashire; he played in the Halle Orchestra photograph, joining in 1871, the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and at intervals with De Jong’s Orchestra, Vetter’s Band the Manchester Gentlemen’s Concerts and as leader of the Bury Philharmonic Society’s Band. He was the first teacher of his four nephews: John Sedgwick Bridge, (1872-1945) Harry Bridge, (1878-1944) Sam Bridge (1880-1939) and Herbert Bridge (1883-1917). family photograph

Sam Bridge became a solicitor’s clerk and was a good amateur ‘cellist, Harry Bridge was a violinist who became musical director of both the Theatre Royal and the Olympic Circus of Varieties in Bury, Lancashire. Herbert Bridge was a double bass player with Richter’s Band and the Torquay Municipal Orchestra, he was killed in the Great War.

John S. Bridge photograph became the best-known of the brothers, he played in the Theatre Royal orchestra in Bury as young man and had lessons with the Halle leader Willy Hess, he joined the Halle orchestra in 1893 where he stayed until 1930. He was a member of the Liverpool Philharmonic from 1900 to 1939. John Bridge married the pianist Enid Stuart Jones in 1896, she had been awarded the certificate of merit with honours from the Guildhall School of Music and became the accompanist for the Ladies concerts at the Midland Hall and Carl Fuchs’ Schiller Anstalt concerts in Manchester, also, between 1899 and 1914 she was a music teacher at Withington School for Girls photograph. On the days when John Bridge wasn’t required by the Halle he was in demand as a chamber music player, he was a member of the Rawdon Briggs Quartet (1895 – 1916) photograph, the Catterall Quartet (1915-1925 and 1928/29) photograph photograph He also played in the Brodsky Quartet (1920-1922) simultaneously with the Catterall Quartet. He played in a piano trio with R. J. Forbes and J. H. Foulds and the Beatrice Hewitt Trio and the Ethel Midgley Trio and he and his wife Enid played many times at the Ancoats Brotherhood concerts between 1887 and 1924. He was also leader of the orchestras which played for the Bolton Philharmonic Society, the Bolton Choral Union, Stockport Vocal Union, New Mills Orchestral concerts etc. In 1915 he became the Halle’s principal second violin, in 1923 he was promoted to deputy leader and in 1925 he succeeded Arthur Catterall as leader. He held this post for two seasons during which time he relinquished his position in the Catterall Quartet.

He was also actively involved with the BBC in the early years of broadcasting in Manchester, he was leader of the 2ZY orchestra in 1925 from which he also resigned when he took the Halle leadership. The Halle and Liverpool Philharmonic contracts were winter positions between October and March and professional musicians had to find summer employment in spa town and seaside orchestras. John Bridge was the leader of the Devonshire Park orchestra in Eastbourne which was conducted by Norfolk Megone, Julian Clifford’s Kursaal Orchestra in Harrogate photograph and for many years the Pier Pavilion Orchestra in Llandudno photograph where he eventually became conductor in 1928. He was a member of the orchestra at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden from 1903 to 1907 playing for Hans Richter’s opera seasons which included several complete Ring Cycles. In 1912 he and several other Halle members were invited to join the London Symphony Orchestra on their North American tour. The orchestra planned to sail on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, fortunately their plans had to be changed and they travelled on the S.S. Baltic instead.

In 1928 John Bridge got a full-time BBC contract as leader and deputy conductor of the Northern Wireless Orchestra, from 1931 to 1934 he was director of the Northern Studio Orchestra and in 1934 became principal second violin in the newly formed BBC Northern Orchestra, a post he held until his retirement in 1938. He wasn’t retired for very long when, because the Halle was depleted because of the war, he re-joined the orchestra as a second violin from 1940 to 1943. photograph