Julian Bream Wiki – Biography
Julian Bream, the British guitarist regarded as one of the finest exponents of the classical style.
Bream was born in Battersea in 1933, the son of a father who played piano and jazz guitar – a self-built electric version – and taught Julian the rudiments of each instrument. Bream’s talent earned him a scholarship at the Royal College of Music, where he studied piano and cello. But he was largely self-taught on his primary instrument, the guitar. He played his first public guitar recital in Cheltenham in 1947, aged 13.
The virtuoso musician performed globally during his heyday and was renowned for his recordings of new compositions and masterclasses.
He won four Grammy Awards and received 20 nominations between 1960 and 85.
A self-taught musician, Bream learned playing to radio dance bands with the lute his father bought from a sailor on London’s Charing Cross Road in 1947.
As a child prodigy, his early recitals led to him being “acknowledged as one of the most remarkable artists of the post-war era”, according to the Royal Academy of music.
Interviewed in the Guardian aged 80, Bream, who retired in 2002, said he was no longer playing: “The thing I feel a little annoyed about is that I know I’m a better musician than I was at 70, but I can’t prove it.”
After studying piano and composition at the Royal College of Music, and completing national service, he became one of the most prolific and best-selling recording artists in classical music.
He was made an OBE in 1964 and a CBE in 1985. His repertoire included new works by composers including Benjamin Britten, Sir William Walton, and Sir Michael Tippett.
British cultural commentator and journalist Norman Lebrecht expressed his “sadness” at Bream’s death.
Prestigious London venue Wigmore Hall called Bream “one of the greatest guitarists of all time”, adding: “Julian gave his first performance at Wigmore Hall in 1951. He will be greatly missed. RIP.”
German classical guitarist Heike Matthiesen called the musician “My idol, my lifelong inspiration as musician and artist”, while Helen Sanderson, director of National Youth Guitar Ensemble, said Bream was “my hero forever”.
Bream’s passion for the Elizabethan lute resulted in him being given solo recitals in concert halls around the world, as well as programs of poetry and music with the actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft.
Julian Bream Age
Julian Bream has died at the age of 87 years.
That year he also chanced upon a sailor walking through London carrying a lute and asked what it was. The sailor sold it to him and Bream began learning it, eventually helping to revive wider interest in the instrument and Elizabethan music.
He carried out national service between 1952 and 1955, putting his instruments in storage but playing electric guitar in an army dance band. “That’s when I learned the job of improvisation – a way of making music that is almost totally closed, these days, to the classical performer”, he later said.
After leaving the army, he replaced Benjamin Britten as the accompanist to tenor Peter Pears’s performances of Elizabethan song, and in the early 1960s, he formed the Julian Bream Consort to perform the music of the era.
Julian Bream: ‘I’m a better musician now than when I was 70’
Bream continued to play classical guitar, performing repertoire by composers including Joaquín Rodrigo and Heitor Villa-Lobos. Britten’s 1963 piece Nocturnal was written especially for him, featuring complex variations on the English Renaissance composer John Dowland’s Come, Heavy Sleep. Its success helped to cement the guitar in the classical tradition, and other composers including Malcolm Arnold, Michael Tippett, Hans Werner Henze, and Peter Maxwell Davies would write for Bream.
He continued an illustrious international touring and recording career for decades, including numerous duo recordings with another virtuoso guitarist, John Williams. He expressed an ongoing love for jazz guitar, describing Django Reinhardt as his hero and even naming his dog after him.
He moved to Semley, Wiltshire, where he lived between 1966 and 2008. Bream was awarded an OBE in 1964 and a CBE in 1985; he won four Grammy Awards from 20 nominations.
During the 1960s, he also founded the Julian Bream Consort a period-instrument ensemble with Bream as a lutenist, putting the instrument firmly back on center stage.
During a masterclass in California in 1991, he told the students: “Guitar was just a hobby, but it seemed to me that the instrument had possibilities, not least of which was that there was no one else playing it.
“I could be, as it were, the best boy in an all-girls school.”
In 2008, he set up The Julian Bream Trust to provide financial help for the less well-off, young and gifted music students, and to continue the work of commissioning new compositions for the guitar.
Bream told The Guardian in 2013 that he had to “renounce making music seriously” in 2011 after being knocked off his feet by a neighbor’s dog while out walking.
He broke both hips and injured his left hand in the fall, but said: “There’s nothing sad about not playing anymore. The thing I feel a little annoyed about is that I know I’m a better musician than I was at 70, but I can’t prove it.”
He added that he was still able to manage a few scales and arpeggios because “it’s very good for one’s brain and muscular system to work in harmony. If you keep up your playing it just keeps things ticking over”.
Speaking about his career, he said: “I devoted my life to music for a reason, and the reason wasn’t that I wanted to get on or make money, but to try to fulfill myself and also to give people pleasure. That’s been my credo.”
He married his first wife Margaret Williamson in 1968. They divorced, and he married Isabel Sanchez in 1980.
Cause of Death
Julian Bream, the British guitarist regarded as one of the finest exponents of the classical style, has died aged 87. The news was confirmed by his management company, who said he died “peacefully at home”. No cause of death was given. Classical guitarist and lute player Julian Bream has died at his home in Wiltshire at the age of 87.