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The Cobbett Phantasy Prize No.2 - 1907

On the 29th January 1907 it was reported at a Court Meeting that Mr Walter Willson Cobbett CBE (1847-1937) (pictured right) had offered the sum of £50 as first prize in a second competition for Chamber Music in the 'Phantasy' Form. This was agreed by the Court on 28th February and a sub-committee established with arrangements to be made in the same way as that for the previous Cobbett Competition in 1905 (Click Here for details of that 1st Cobbett Prize).

The original Cobbett composition prize was for a String Quartet in the style of a Phantasy, on this occasion the prize was to be offered for a "Phantasia Trio for Violin and Violincello and Pianoforte". See MB8,p.288

The financial generosity of W.W.Cobbett was matched by a keen amateur musician, Captain A.S.Beaumont, who donated £50 toward the competition with the expectation that it would be used to cover the Publishing expenses of any submission felt worthy. A further £20 prize donation was received from Liveryman, Mr Hermann L. Sternberg (who had also contributed to the first Cobbett competition).

An advertisement was placed in The Musical Times in June 1907. Click the image right to see a larger view. Inside the publication were more details as shown on the inset image.


By April 1908, 67 submissions had been received and after many meetings at the house of Mr Cobbett, a short list of 5 pieces was produced. Having fully rehearsed each one, the five compositions were performed for adjudicators by The London Trio (founded by Cobbett himself) on 25th April 1908 at the Guildhall School of Music.

The winner was judged unanimously to be Mr Frank Bridge with his composition entitled Spero Meliora (Bridge had previously taken third place in the 1st Cobbett Phantasy competition in 1905). Second Place went to Mr James Friskin for a work entitled Viator. Third place was taken by Mr John Ireland for Sub Umbra. All were Piano Trio compositions in the Phantasy form and were subsequently published using the funds donated by Capt. Beaumont. The first public performance of these pieces was given during 1909-10 season at the Aeolian Hall in New Bond Street (in 2017, a clothes shop), also by The London Trio.


The winning Bridge composition was published as Phantasie Trio in C Minor and was eventually given the code H.79 in Paul Hindmarsh's Thematic Catlogue of Bridge's works. It is sometimes referred to in other publications and CD notes as Bridge's Piano Trio No. 1, but the Hindmarsh catalogue believes Bridge composed his first Piano Trio in 1900 and has given that the reference of H.1. This was however an unpublished, student work and the autograph manuscript is missing.

Click the red arrow below to hear a performance of the 1st Movement of this piece.

Phantasie Trio H.79 in C Minor (1907) by Frank Bridge - The Dartington Piano Trio
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This performance of the 1907 Phantasie Trio (1st Movement; Allegro Moderato) was by the 'Dartington Piano Trio' with Patrick Ireland (viola) and was recorded at Seldon Hall, The Haberdashers' Aske's School, Elstree in July 1987


Grateful thanks are extended to Hyperion for permission to offer this section of their recording which is taken from a Helios CD ref: 55063 (originally issued on Hyperion CDA66279). The CD Cover is shown right and is available for purchase here:

The Musicians' Company Archive Project

The Company owns a modern published copy of H.79 which (contrary to the Hindmarsh catalogue) is identified by the publisher as Trio No. 1 (see images left showing the cover and first page). Click Here to see the full score - albeit taken from a different published edition.

The composition awarded second place, was published as Phantasy in E Minor by James Friskin. The Company owns the autograph manuscript of this piece and this is shown below. Click the image to enlarge, click "Go to link" to expand further. Friskin had been awarded a consolation prize in the first Cobbett Phantasy Competition in 1905 - Click Here to see that entry.

Third place was awarded to John Ireland with his Phantasie in A Minor. The Company holds an original published score and this is presented below. Click the image to enlarge, click "Go to link" to expand further.

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