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Remembering British Classical Guitarist and Lutenist Julian Bream

The virtuoso guitarist Julian Bream, who died August 14, 2020 at age 87 of natural causes in Wiltshire, England, helped change the way the world views the classical guitar and the lute, taking the instruments to new audiences and musical settings.

His numerous awards and honors include four Grammys, multiple honorary doctorates and fellowships, and a 2013 Gramophone Lifetime Achievement Award. He collaborated with many of the biggest names in classical music, and inspired composers such as Benjamin Britten, Peter Maxwell Davies, and William Walton. 

Here is Walton’s 5 Bagatelles for Guitar, written for Bream:

Born in 1933, the young Julian Bream grew up listening to his father play jazz guitar. He studied piano and composition at the Royal College of Music starting at age 12, and, inspired by the music of Andres Segovia and Django Rheinhardt, began studying guitar and playing recitals in his teens. By his early twenties he was touring around the world. In 1960, he formed the Julian Bream consort, which popularlized Elizabethian music and the lute.

This video profile, Julian Bream, My Life in Music, was named Gramophone’s DVD of the Year in 2007:

His many dozens of recordings span a range of repertoire and styles— from dances to concertos, from Baroque to Spanish classics to contemporary works.

In this concert, he plays Bach, Villa-Lobos, Albeniz and Britten:

Here he plays for Stravinsky:


Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.