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Julian Bream

Julian Bream needs little introduction to both classical guitar players and listeners alike. For over 70 years, Bream was at the forefront of the classical guitar scene. He has also been successful in renewing popular interest in the Renaissance lute.

Julian Bream pictureRaised in London, Bream was immersed in music from an early age, with his father who played jazz guitar.

Bream began his life-long association with the guitar by strumming along on a small gut-string Spanish guitar at a very young age to dance music on the radio. The president of the Philharmonic Society of Guitars, Dr Boris Perott, gave Bream lessons, while Bream's father became the society librarian, giving Bream access to a large collection of rare music.

On his 11th birthday, Bream was given a classical guitar by his father. He became something of a child prodigy, at 12 winning a junior exhibition award for his piano playing, enabling him to study piano and cello at the Royal College of Music. He made his debut guitar recital at Cheltenham in 1947, aged 13.

He left the Royal College of Music in 1952 and was called up for National Service. He was originally drafted into the Pay Corps, but managed to sign up for the Royal Artillery Band after six months. This required him to be stationed in Woolwich, which allowed him to moonlight regularly with the guitar in London.

After three and a half years in the army, he took any musical jobs that came his way, including background music for radio plays and films. Commercial film, recording session and work for the BBC were important to Bream throughout the 50s and the early 60s.

In the years after national service, Bream pursued a busy career playing around the world, including annual tours in the U.S. and Europe for several years. He played part of a recital at the Wigmore Hall on the lute in 1952 and since has done much to bring music written for the instrument to light. 1960 saw the formation of the Julian Bream Consort, a period-instrument ensemble with Bream as lutenist. The consort led a great revival of interest in the music of the Elizabethan era.

Bream has recorded extensively for RCA and EMI Classics. These recordings have won him several awards, including four Grammy Awards, two for Best Chamber Music Performance and two for Best Classical Performance.[1] RCA also released The Ultimate Guitar Collection, a multi-CD set commemorating his birthday in 1993. From the beginning of the 1990's Julian Bream continued his recording career with EMI Classics, featuring music by J.S. Bach, a Concerto album (with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle), and discs devoted to contemporary works and guitar sonatas.

In 1984 Bream’s arm was seriously injured in a car accident. It cost him great effort to regain his previous technical ability.

A highly successful biographical film, "A Life in the Country", was first shown on BBC TV in 1976. Bream also presented a series of four master-classes guitarists on BBC TV. BBC TV has presented a programme about Julian Bream's life as a concert guitarist. In 1984 he made eight films on location in Spain for Channel 4 exploring historical perspectives of Spanish guitar music.

The 2003 DVD video profile Julian Bream: My Life In Music contains three hours of interview and performance. It has been declared by Graham Wade "the finest film contribution ever to the classic guitar." His series Guitarra! was made for British television and charts a journey across Spain.

Bream has stated that even though he had some 'sessions' with Segovia, he never really studied with him - Bream also does not exclusively hold his right-hand fingers at right angles to the strings, but has stated that he uses a less rigid hand position for reasons of tonal variety.

 

 

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