Julian Bream - Here begins his journey!

"Setting out on the voyage to Ithaca, you must pray that the way be long." C.P. Cavafy (1911) 


Julian Alexander Bream

Born July 15, 1933, in Battersea, England.

Son of Henry George Bream (a commercial artist and amateur musician) and Violet J. Wright


Early in the year, the family moved to 25, Cleveland Avenue, Hampton, London, England

Young Julian remembers being fascinated by the sound of the grand piano his father had just bought for their new home.


The birth of his sister Janice Bream

Evacuated to a farm out in the country side of north east England (Shropshire) due to WWII. Bream first remembers the guitar when his father came to visit with a guitar and would accompany the farmer's wife while she played the organ and sang hymns.

Both Julian and his sister Janice arrived back home to Hampton from being evacuated the first time due to WWII.


The birth of his brother Anthony J. Bream

Julian started to have piano lessons with a local professor. Like most children, Julian liked playing but not practicing.

All Bream children evacuated for the second time to a farm out in the country side of England (Cornwall) again due to WWII. They return home in 1944.


Julian attended Rectory Secondary Modern School. It is at school that he first "displayed" an interest in music, particularly with the plectrum guitar.

His father had a dance band and seeing guitars in the home renewed his interest in them. Shortly after this period JB would play around with the guitars while his father was out of the house.

His father eventually caught him playing one of his guitars. Instead of chastising him he asked Julian if he wanted to learn how to play. So here started Julian's first guitar lesson. His father taught him the jazz guitar.

After a few months, Julian was already starting to "sit in" on his father's dance band.

Julian's father starts a juvenile band so Julian could play with 5 other children, Julian is still studying the piano.

As Henry started to show an interest in classical music, classical music was starting to capture Julian's attention more and more.

July 15

Julian's 11th birthday - his dad brings him an old finger-style (Spanish classical) guitar. Julian's dad's interest also starts shifting toward Spanish classical guitar music and starts losing interest in his dance band. They both learned through tutorial books.

Julian's father encourages a career in music but with a orchestral instrument (the guitar was not considered an orchestral instrument or even widely accepted as a solo classical instrument at this time. ). Julian continues to play the piano.

April 21
The London Philharmonic Society for Guitarist (PSG) resumes its meeting after the war and Julian and his father start attending the meetings. Julian is asked to play the first time he attends and his first public performance at the meeting was very well received among the members. The president of the society, Dr. Boris Perrot, offers to start teaching him.

Young Julian hears a Segovia recording for the first time playing a Tarrega piece on a 78rpm record. The tremolo study "Recuerdos de al Alhambra".

June 23

Julian plays at the following PSG meeting. "Salut d' Amour" by Elgar, arranged by Obregon, "Danse Nord" by Giuliani and "Andante" by Diabelli.

July 16

Henry writes to the BBC for an audition for his son Julian but does not not hear back from them till June 1946.

Summer 1945
Julian wins a Junior Exhibition Award, awarded by the London County Council, for playing the piano and he is granted free tuition to learn piano at London's Royal College of Music on Saturday mornings. He was 12 years old.

July 21

Henry is appointed the Librarian for the PSG. This ensures that Julian will have the greatest availability to tutorial texts and scores.

August 17

Henry writes Wilfrid Appleby for the first time. As the librarian for the PSG he submitted a month reports to Appleby (editor to the PSG's Bulletin)

August 18

At PSG meeting Julian plays with his father duets by Scarlatti and Carulli. Julian then played a solo by César Frank, a waltz by Carcasi and a study by Carulli.

September 15

PGS meeting "Légende" by Shands, "Andantino" by Carcasi and "Prélude et Impromptu" by Shands.


Julian begins his four hour Saturday sessions at the Royal Collage of Music. A tuition granted to him for winning the competition playing the piano earlier that year.

After 2 sessions at the Royal College of Music, Julian decides to bring his guitar to the college on Saturday and it is indeed an instrument worthy of classical music. Julian continues to perform informal recitals at the college on Saturdays.

October (early in the month)

Henry takes Julian to meet Victor Olaf of Decca. Mr. Olaf is greatly impressed by Julian's guitar playing and insists that he concentrate only on classical music. Additionally, he states that while Julian is likely ready to record, it would probably be best to wait a year.

October 15

After Mr. Appleby's insistence tha Julian should play a formal recital, Henry develops a program for Julian's first "trial" recital at Cheltenham. The recital was to take place in January 1946. Due to Dr. Perrot's opposition and isistence that Julian was not ready, the plans for the recital were cancelled.

?????      Dr. Perrot informs JB and his father that Andres Segovia will be playing his first post-war concert in England. Arranges for Julian to meet and play for Segovia.

January 5

PSG hold their annual general meeting at Alliance Hall in Westminster. Wilfrid Appleby from BMG attends his first PSG meeting. Julian played "Preludium" by Giuliani, "Rondoletto" by Darr and "Calme du Soir, op. 58" by Shands.

Appleby announces to the members that Julian is the "brightest hope for the classical guitar in England". Appleby privately admonished Henry for allowing Perott to teach Julian his archaic pedagogical approach in addition to allowing Perrot to suggest that Julian should consider playing a guitar with extra bass guitar strings.

February 16

Julian is invited to the British Federation of Banjoist, Mandolinist and Guitarist at Alliance Hall. Julian plays "Study No. 5 in B minor" by Sor and "Légende, op. 201" by Shand. Another extremely successful performance

March 30

Julian performs the "Grand Solo for Guitar" by Sor at the PGS meeting. His performance of the difficult piece was so mature that his father realizes for the first time that his son truly possesses a gift for the guitar.


Henry inquires at the Royal College of Music for the possibility of Julian learning a second official instrument and suggested the cello. Academically, the classical guitar was something Julian was practicing for pleasure and was not an official study. At this time. piano was Julian's official instrument and the guitar was unofficial.


Henry terminates Julian's lessons with Dr. Perrot. His father and Mr. Appleby felt that while efforts in teaching Julian discipline towards his instrument was appreciated, he was teaching an outdated method compared to the teachings of the Spanish classical guitarist such as Tárrega, Llobet and Segovia.

At this time, Julian receives an official invitation from the BBC to audition on July 4, 1946.


Julian starts learning from study material sent by Appleby. Tárrega based method material.

July 4

Auditions for BBC but later received a letter stating despite Julian being a promising musician in the future, they did not feel he was ready. At this time Julian had only enough time to prepare 4 pieces with his new technique.

July 16

Julian performs for the PSG with his new technique. Everybody, including Dr. Perrot, congratulates him on his advanced playing.


Starts lessons with Desmond Dupré. His studies are based on Pascual Roch's Tutor material (Roch was a student of Tárrega).

August 26

Paul H. Bream is born. Julian's 3rd sibling.


Henry is notified that Julian will be allowed to study the cello at the Royal College of Music along with the piano.

Julian initiates his study with the cello at the Royal College of Music.

Julian performs for the PSG meeting and plays the Maccaferri guitar in public for the first time.

At this time, Dr. Perrot has promised to set up a recital for Julian but the event fails to materialize.

October 20

BFBMG Junior Trophy rally at Central Hall in Westminster. Julian does not compete but performs as a "special" item at the end. Performs Rondoletto by Darr. The audience was so taken by the performance they applauded for numerous encores.  Julian played a Study and Prelude by Carcassi. While the audience applauded for more, Julian bowed and left the stage after the second encore. Julian signs autographs for the first time. There may not have been a "trophy" involved for Julian but the event represented a high honour for the performer.

It is at this time that Henry realizes that if Julian is not performing for an award or school grade, then there needs to be a fee involved. 


Julian asked to play a very select after-dinner party, along with other entertainment, for the guest of Prince and Princess Galitzine in Knightsbridge.


Henry developed a program for Julian to perform - the second attempt to have a his first "trial" recital at Cheltenham Art Gallery.

December 5

Julian plays a short recital for the Annual Social of the Brompton Ward Conservative Association in Kensington.

December 7

Julian finally plays his "trial" recital at Cheltenham Art Gallery. He plays with an adult sized Ibanez classical guitar owned by W. Appleby.

December 17

Julian plays the cello for the London County Council Junior Exhibitioners (public concert)

???JB has 2 lessons with Segovia. Segovia extends to JB the possibility of teaching him full time if the funds could be raised to cover cost of teaching and travel but sadly it fell through.

JB decided develop his guitar technique on his own, through trial and error.

Begins a series of radio and television programs

January 7

Julian plays his first radio show for th eBBC called the Children's Hour for Young Artist. He played Turina's Fandanguillo, Carcassi's Prelude and Schumann's Romanza. He played the Maccaferri guitar (additional unfretted string guitar).

January 18

Julian performs for the PSG meeting and plays Granados' Tondilla and Bellini's I Capuletti ed I Montecchi.

Henry declines an offer for Julian to play for free at the Turland Hill's Federation Rally Banjo, Mandilin and Guitarist.

February 17

First formal recital at Cheltenham Art Gallery was a success. He was 13yrs old. Julian plays his smaller sized Ibanez classical guitar.

Julian plays the cello for the London County Council Junior Exhibitioners (his second public concert as a cellist).

May 5

Julian plays a recital at the Colonial Hostel, Earl's Court, London. 70 people attend and Julian plays a very small used Panormo guitar.

Julian is featured in the June issue of the BMG magazine

June 25

Henry exchanged the Maccaferri guitar for a Spanish-style classical guitar the Italian Giuseppe Calace of Naples.

Late July

The Breams finally meet Terry Usher. Usher lends Julian his Clifford Essex Hauser


Henry Bream finds a Ramirez guitar in very poor condition but he decieds to buy it and restore it. It ends up sounding very good once repaired.

This becomes the first guitar that Julian strung up with Augustine nylon strings. Strings that Henry had bought from Perrot back in May and very difficult to acquire and expensive to buy. Julian would only use these strings for performance.

August 30

Performs for a Broadcast. Spanish section for the BBC overseas service. A British artist performs Spanish compositions to the Spanish nation!

Plays "Study in D minor" by Sor, "El Testament d' Amelia" by Llobet, "Study in A" by Tárrega and "Cádiz" by Albéniz. Julian gets paid 3 quids

One day in the summer of 1947, Henry buys a "lute" guitar from a sailor for 2 quids.


Tentative date for a recital at the Wigmore Hall. The event was supposed to be arranged by Dr. Perrot and once again he fails to come through with the recital arrangements. 

October 14Second broadcast for Spanish section for the BBC overseas service.

Performs in an ensemble of 4 guitars, 2 flutes and 2 violas. The ensemble pieces are for Eduardo Martínez Torner La Cueva de Salamanca and La Cárcel de Sevilla. Then performed two solos, Chaconne by Bach and Marizapalos.

October 27

Julian perfoms for the British federation of Banjoist, mandolinist and Guitarist at Kensington Town Hall. Julian plays Bach: PreluBellini/ arr. Mertz: I Capuletti ed I Montecchi

Late 1940-early 1950

recorded incidental music for BBC radio plays.

1950 (early spring)

meets Thomas Goff the harpsichord and clavichord maker


served in British Army, playing in dance band.


First recording session destined for release on a phonograph  record. The recording sessions were for Westminster as a lutenist accompanying the vocal ensemble Golden Age Singers.


Began his recording and touring career as a primary artist. Recorded an album of Elizabethan lute songs with Peter Pears on Decca label- Elizabethan Lute Songs: vol. 1 of An Anthology of English Song . While this was not his first recording session destined to be released on a phonograph record, it was his first released phonograph recording. It was also the first released recording where he was considered a main artist of the release receiving essentially equal billing with Peter Pears (an already established performer).

First recordings for Westminster as a primary artist, not a session musician Spanish Guitar Music: Turina, de falla, Sor and  Guitar Music of  Villa-Lobos and Tórroba.


Release of  both Spanish Guitar Music: Turina, de Falla, Sor and  Guitar Music of  Villa-Lobos and Tórroba.

Recorded A Bach Recital for the Guitar and Julian Bream Plays Dowland


Release of A Bach Recital for the Guitar and Julian Bream Plays Dowland. These would be his last recording for the Westminster label.


Made U.S. debut

Recorded a second album of Elizabethan lute songs with Peter Pears again on the Decca label- A Recital of Lute Songs. Although Bream would continue to  record with Peter Pears in the future, this would be the last time that Julian Bream would record on the Decca label.


Recorded his first sessions for RCA Victor in the USA- The Art of Julian Bream.


formed Julian Bream Consort, 1960.


Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1964 for Evening of Elizabethan Music performed by the Julian Bream  Consort


Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music


Grammy Award for Best Classical Performance – Instrumental Soloist or Soloists (with or without orchestra) at the Grammy Awards of 1967 for Baroque
Guitar (Works of Bach, Sanz, Weiss, etc.)


Honorary Doctorate from the University of Surrey

Edison Award


Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra) at the Grammy Awards of 1972 for André Previn (conductor), Julian Bream & the London Symphony Orchestra for Villa-Lobos: Concerto for Guitar


Edison Award


Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance at the Grammy Awards of 1973 for Julian Bream & John Williams for Julian and John (Works by
Lawes, Carulli, Sor, Albéniz, Granados, de Falla and Ravel)

Subject of television biography A Life in the Country.


Fellowship of the Royal College of Music


Author, with Tony Palmer, of A Life on the Road, Macdonald


Fellowship of the Royal Northern College of Music


Honorary Doctorate from the University of Leeds


Commander of the Order of the British Empire


Honorary Member of the Royal Philharmonic Society


Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist's Award


Doctor of Philosophy from London Guildhall University


Honorary Doctorate from the Open University


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