JULIAN BREAM: The Gramophone interview

 

We reprint this revealing interview with Julian Bream from January 2007...

Sixty years ago, the classical guitar was little more than a musical curiosity in Britain, despite the work of Segovia in Europe – a small-voiced, exotic instrument that wasn’t to be taken seriously. But then a determined Londoner changed everything. Julian Bream’s single-handed mission was not only to get the guitar accepted as a mainstream classical instrument, but also to resurrect the legacy of the Renaissance and Baroque lute. Now 73 and retired from the concert and recording circuit, the man and his extraordinary career are celebrated in an absorbing DVD 'Julian Bream: My Life in Music’.

I meet him at his home on the Wiltshire-Dorset border, where he lives alone except for his canine companion, a friendly black retriever rather endearingly named Django, and a couple of classic cars. It’s the sort of beautiful house that you usually find has been converted into a boutique spa hotel these days. We talk in his drawing room by an open fire; Django slumped comfortably at my feet. In the walled garden the lower branches of a large Japanese maple are turning deep crimson against a view of hills beyond. It’s a country life fantasy, and one that Bream has been living for the past 42 years, since he left London. But this peace and tranquility is a necessity rather than a luxury. Bream’s south London vowels and unpretentious manner mask a serious, sensitive artist with an abhorrence of the fast-moving consumer world. He has no mobile phone, email or answering machine, preferring a more measured pace of life. 'That’s why I liked making the DVD. It’s a serious sit-down, at over two hours long, but I’ve been told it’s compelling viewing. But when you see the occasional musical documentary on the television often everything is ......

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