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Bream Quotes

Bream on recording music:

" I think it has made people more self-contious about their playing, and in a sense that's good, but in another sense it isn't, because it impairs the natural responses you have toward your music. Until the advent of recording, music had a sort of mysticism attached to it - the music was played, and it vanishe; you could never capture it.  And it is indeed this fact of capture which I find at times  almost working against the very nature of musical sound. It shows a a sort of greediness on the part of people thatthey want to conserve something which should vanish. It's a bit like wanting to eat strawberries all the year 'round.I prefer to eat strawberries at strawberry time, and with music the moment is very important." FRETS magazine 1981



Bream on respect toward listening to music and composers:

"The whole idea of being able to push a tape into a car tape recorder and play a magnificent work of art, tearing down the freeway at an unlawful 70 miles per hour with the wind rushing past and other cars hooting and running about  - I think is detrimental, really, and almost an insult to the composer, because you can only give half your attention to the music. If you gave your proper attention", he muses, "you'd have an accident straight away." FRETS magazine 1981


Bream on his own composition:

"I have actually trotted out some of them for encores - unannounced of course - but I haven't even done that in years. Composing is somethign I have to do to get it out of my system.; it's a bit like going to the shrink". FRETS magazine 1981


Bream on fingering:

In demonstrating one passage, Bream was irritated by his own base-notes finger squeaks, and requested that the student to replay the passage. The student used a different fingering that eliminated the finger squeaks. "That's very nice fingering," quipped Bream, "I'll have to buy it from you."

FRETS magazine 1981


Bream on studying and listening to other intruments othe than the guitar:

"You know we guitarist are so terribly inbred that we really must make the effort to stufy other intruments," Bream said. "I have the distinction of being the world's worst cellist, but through that I gained a better knowledge of this sort of music."  FRETS magazine 1981


Bream to a masterclass student on playing the "La Catedral"by Augustine Barrios Mangore (which he never got around to recording but was known to play it in concert:

Discussing the first two out of three movements in the piece. The first movement features arpeggios, which are contrasted in the second movement by block chords.   Bream illustrated his point by comparing the music to a cathedral. In his cathedral analogy, the section of block chords become the pillars, a structural feature that must be straight and strong to support the cathedral (and to contrast with the arpeggios of the first movement). The student's arpegiation of the chords prompted the following comments from Bream: " We don't want wavy pillars or the place will fall down - we want sturdy, straight pillars. 


Bream to a masterclass student on playing Villa-Lobos' Etude 11:

"I think you took the animato a little too animated. It needs to be a little more controlled." After the frantic, driving animato section, the piece returns abruptly to the starkly contrasting quietude of the opening theme. "Easy now" cautioned Bream, "You've just been through a tornado. It's the calm after the storm. I like the the ending absolutely plain. Keep it simple - you've had all that other stuff.


Bream to a masterclass student on playing Bach's "Prelude for Lute" in D minor:

"Don't arpeggiate the last chord, because arpeggios led up to that marvelous final movement. Make it very simple, let the music speak for itself."


Bream to a masterclass student on playing Bach's "Fugue" from Violon Sonata No. 1:

"You must have reverence for the counterpoint in this piece - you've got to get more shape in it. One must hear all the parts terribly clearly; we must percieve the architecture. Don't do too much to it. Let the music speak."


This piece has all to do with shape and rhythm - don't try to over express. Again , we must not over arpeggiate or we lose all the dignity in the piece. You've got a big story to tell; it's an epic, so you mustn't do too much all at once.  Don't let it boil, just simmer - you've got a helluva long way to go. In driving terms, you must know how to use the clutch and make the corners in music like this."


Bream to a masterclass on playing twentieth century music, specifically Searle's "Five":

With music of this character, we've got to use as much tonal variation as possible. This type of music has a different sort of grammar, if you will, and I suppose that if I had been brought up listening to this sort of music, its system of grammar would seem quite natural to me. However, I must play it using tonal, not atonal ears. But at points I can sense the atonal grammar, and when I do, I always try very hard to bring it out. The guitar can give a special character to this sort of music - a little sweeter than it probably should sound. Perhaps that may be all to the better, because although it can be very expressive, it can also be quite grotesque to our tonal sensibilities.


Bream to a masterclass on playing twentieth century music, specifically Searle's "Five":

"Make it last. Enjoy this - it will make the people listen."


Bream to a masterclass on playing twentieth century music, specifically Searle's "Five":

"One of the things about good tone production is that no matter how quietly you play, you can hear every note of the chord - and the audience will listen. Keep the impetus of the piece going forward."


Bream to a masterclass on playing twentieth century music, specifically Britten's "Nocturnal":

Make the contrast absolutely stark - that's what we've been waiting on for the last six minutes. Bring it way down and fall asleep; don't break the spell. If your going to play that last chord louder, it must be very sweet or you've broken the spell. "


Bream to a masterclass on playing:

"The thing is to find out how to make the biggest sound without getting any distortion. Each guitar has its breaking point - you must understand that, find it, and play accordingly."


Bream to a masterclass on playing loud:

"Sor is not like Beethoven, were you can break a couple of strings."


Bream to a masterclass on playing on Granados "La Maja de Goya":

"Try to get that top note at that melodic climax with your thumb. You can only get it 19 out of 20 times, but the sound is so nice that it's worth the risk."


Bream to a masterclass on using bad technique at times to get the sound that you need:

"Try this naughty little slide - you're not supposed to do that."




Mr. Bream appears to be a very insightful and humorous man!! As you read through interviews and look through film footages, you realize that he loves a good story and loves to laugh. He will often make a joke at his own expense and then laugh about it. Still, he likely has a darker side that allows him to so effectively tap into that amazing and diverse magical energy called MUSIC. I really enjoy listening to him play and tell a good story.  He probably would have made a great grandfather! Here are some of his quotes that I find most interesting.