Happy 80th Birthday Julian Bream!

Cover of "Nocturnal After John Dowland: O...
Cover of Nocturnal After John Dowland: Op. 70

Monday this week saw the 80th birthday of my own personal guitar hero – the inimitable classical guitarist and lutenist Julian Bream. Happy birthday sir!

There are many things I admire about this most fantastic guitarist and musician –

  • He has the most delicious tone with a fantastic variation in tonal colour, expression and physicality in his playing which is a great inspiration in my own playing
  • He was more-or-less self-taught on the guitar having studied piano at the Royal College of Music so less constrained perhaps by the “right” way to do things made it up for himself and obviously had great success in this
  • And, importantly for me, he holds the belief that as guitarists, as musicians, as people we should refrain from taking ourselves too seriously!

What a fantastic career he shaped for himself and what a fantastic legacy he has created for the classical guitar too. There have been around 25 pieces that were written specifically for Bream, these include (thanks to Wikipedia for the list):

In celebration of Bream’s 80th BBC Radio 3 put together a fantastic radio documentary on Bream’s career, and particuarly the story behind Britten’s Nocturnal – one of the most fantastic pieces in the modern classical guitar repertoire that we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Bream for. Check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036ts1w

And of course, this post couldn’t proceed without a bit of music from the great man himself.  Here’s the Passacaglia from Britten’s Nocturnal for you.

Happy Birthday Julian!


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