Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Happy birthday Julian Bream


Mutual friend Johnnie Warrack went with Julian Bream to the Royal Academy one year and they went into one room dominated by a large nude. Julian exclaims in loud astonishment, 'Christ, I know 'er!' Silence in that room and the bystanders wait for more. 'What a smashing pair of plonkers!'

Julian once lent his flat to the South American singer Ana Raquel while he was out of the country. She said she found eighteen pairs of evening shoes under the bed, all worn right down at the heels, likewise a cupboard containing forty-seven dirty evening shirts and a whole room full of unopened letters and telegrams.

His Dartington masterclasses were instructive and fun. On the first day one year he tried to correct one lad, playing the same passage on his own guitar and saying, 'Go on, more like that. See wot I mean?' At which the lad replied, ''S all very well for you. You've got a good box to play on. Mine's a soap box.' Julian conceded he had a point. He hadn't thought of that, so he went round the whole circle of students, playing on every instrument, and, incidentally, making almost as lovely sound on the first lad's box as he had on his own custom-built job.


Julian Bream celebrates his 75th birthday today, and those stories about him come from John Amis' autobiographical Amiscellany which also supplied the header photo for the full tribute I posted yesterday.
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1 comment:

Scott said...

Happy birthday indeed!

When I was in university in the mid-60's, I bought the elegantly-packaged RCA Soria Series LP of Elizabethan lute music, and I've admired Bream's playing on both guitar and lute since.

It's true that understanding of lute construction and lute technique have advanced since then (in part through Bream's example) but his playing from 40 years ago of composers such as Dowland comes across to me as convincingly as ever.

An aside - when you've mentioned CD packaging vs that for LPs, I should have brought up the Soria Series with their heavyweight sleeves/boxes and their booklets on high-quality stock with separate and elegant reproductions of appropriate pieces of art tacked to the pages.

I have 4 - the Bream I mentioned, the one with Bream's consort, the (in)famous Beecham Messiah, and a Toscanini Schubert 9th. Each is a thing of beauty.