Last month, classical guitar legend Julian Bream passed away at the age of 87. Chances are that unless you’re a serious guitar geek (such as yours truly) you have never heard of him. Of the small amount of people who can actually name any classical guitarists, that would be Andre Segovia. However, it could be argued that Bream, even more than Segovia, established the guitar’s position as a serious solo instrument in classical music. Instead of the Romantic period style phrasing that Segovia used, Bream developed a more modern style of phrasing. Bream’s playing was both virtuosic and expressive, with an eye for details, and with strong use of contrasting timbres. He also expanded the classical guitar repertoire by showing that the instrument was just as suited to German, French and English works as pieces that emphasized the guitar’s Spanish and Latin American roots, as well as more contemporary music that the more conservative Segovia avoided.
The first video is from a recital in 1978 featuring works by Bach, Villa-Lobos, Albeniz and Britten that took place in a chapel at Old Wardour Castle in England.
Julian Bream Concert 1978
The video below is a BBC documentary (year unknown) that shows Bream to be a pretty laid back guy. Dig the car he’s seen driving at the beginning of the video.
Julian Bream at the BBC
R.I.P. Julian Bream