Frank Bridge (1879-1941) studied violin and composition at the Royal College of Music, graduating in 1904. A scholarship enabled him to study with Charles Villiers Stanford for four years (1899-1903). Bridge quickly established a reputation as a gifted violist and conductor. He conducted some operas at the Savoy Theatre and Covent Garden, and when Sir Thomas Beecham organized his New Symphony Orchestra in 1906, he named Bridge as his assistant. Bridge also befriended Sir Henry Wood and occasionally substituted for him as conductor at Queen's Hall. During this period, Bridge was writing mostly chamber music and songs. His few orchestral works of the time were much influenced by the French Impressionists.
World War I was a traumatic time for Bridge, an ardent pacifist, and one can hear more dissonance and darkness creeping into his works. After several years of near-silence, Bridge's next big work signaled a large shift in style, with more dissonance, abrupt changes of mood and tempo, and a more angular and aggressive sound. This stylistic evolution continued and late works flirt with Schoenberg-like atonality.
Of his students, certainly his best-known pupil was Benjamin Britten, who was an 11-year-old prodigy when Bridge met him in 1924.
"Andante moderato in C minor" is the first of the "Three Pieces for Organ," published in 1905. It is an intense and dramatic work, and like all of Bridge's organ pieces, shows that the composer was familiar with how to compose for the instrument. His registrations "work," but they often require some "rearranging" to make them fully practical.
The piece begins softly in a dark C minor, but this soon gives way to a quicker, syncopated section. The mood returns to that of the opening, but this time it is fortissimo, alternating with trumpet calls. The work ends in a grandiose return of the opening material before finally arriving in the major. The coda is thrilling for some of it's "unexpected" chords!