On Monday 15th July 2013, Julian Bream celebrates his 80th birthday. It has been a privilege to have represented Julian for the last 20 years, a collaboration we view with the utmost pride. We would like to take this time to reflect upon Julian’s inspirational career spanning more that 60 years and his contribution to the classical music scene during the 20th century.
Julian Bream, guitarist and lutenist, began his career as a child prodigy following an official debut at Cheltenham on 17th February 1947. He was then just thirteen years old, but after enchanting audiences with his extraordinary skill and musicality, he was soon acknowledged as one of the most remarkable artists of the post-war era.
The next few years were spent performing for the BBC, making his debut at the Wigmore Hall, London, and making his first appearance at the Aldeburgh Festival. He went on to study at the Royal College of Music, and after a break carrying out National Service with the Army, Julian’s career expanded across the globe, with tours in the USA and Europe guaranteeing worldwide success.
Having become an important figure in classical guitar, Julian’s passion and talent became the inspiration for the profound developments in the contemporary guitar repertoire. Composers such as Arnold, Berkeley, Bennett, Britten, Brouwer, Fricker, Searle, Takemitsu, and Walton all composed works dedicated to Julian, inspired by his exceptional playing. From the mid-1950’s Julian was regarded as one of the greatest recording artists of the 20th century, a statement cemented by his successful recordings for RCA in 1958 for which he won many international awards. He was presented with a platinum disc in 1979 by RCA to mark record sales of half a million in the UK alone, as well as gold and silver discs for duo recordings with John Williams.
In 1964, Julian Bream was awarded an OBE for services to music, and then the CBE in 1985. He has also been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Surrey (1968) and Leeds (1984), and in 1976 he was personally presented with the Villa-Lobos Gold Medal by the composer’s widow. In 1966 he was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music and has since been honoured with Fellowships of the Royal College of Music (1981) and the Royal Northern College of Music (1983). In addition to all these incredible honours, Julian became an Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1988 and presented with the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist’s Award in 1996. In 2013, Julian was honoured for his outstanding achievements in the Gramophone Hall of Fame.
To celebrate Julian’s 80th birthday, Sony will be releasing a set of 2 CD’s of Julian’s recordings throughout his incredible 66 year career, a shining tribute to a man whose talents have shaped the history of classical guitar performance.
For more information on Julian’s astonishing career you can listen to Tom Mckinney speaking to Julian on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 13th July at 12:15.