Henry G. Bream -
Amateur Classical Guitarist and Father to Julian Bream
Henry George Bream (b. June 19, 1906- d. November 9, 1950) was a commercial artist and amateur musician but most importantly he was a father to Julian Alexander Bream. Julian was his firstborn son and by the time Julian was 10 years of age, he was comfortable enough that he could buy a home and spend time on hobbies such as repairing transistor radios. He could also buy instrument and spend time playing music. Little did he know that he would spark the interest of his little son and soon he would be teaching him what little he knew about music. In his first son, he essentially found a musical soul mate that was willing to spend time with him working on learning music. By sharing a love for music and guitars, Henry could not only share his love for the guitar but live vicariously through his son's early success as a musician as well. Henry and Julian developed a common goal which was to develop Julian into a great guitarist. This goal still allowed Henry to do what fathers due best, guide their children down the right path. A parent also tells their children that just because you've picked the right path, it does not mean there will not be any stones on the road. There are always stones in the road and the small ones you trip on can be just as traumatic as the large ones you have to figure out how to climb over. There were many stones in Julian's and Henry's journey but they learned to deal with them as a team in Julian's early career as a musician. Since we only know of Henry through his relationship with his son Julian, it almost appears as if he dedicated the last 6 to 7 years of his life ensuring that his first son became a successful guitarist.
It appears that Henry struggled enormously with all decision that pertained to Julian's future as a guitarist. Making decisions for someone that was too young to make his own created an even bigger burden for Henry given that decisions made early on often tend to affect the rest of your life in one way or another. Henry struggled with all the forks in the road, and there were many. One of the early struggles he came across was not being able to provide the financial assistance required to further his son's career. Finances affected nearly everything: musical education, the purchase of suitable guitars, traveling, venues for recitals and promotions. Additionally, the more time he spent on Julian's future career, the more his own business declined. It was likely emotionally paralyzing for Henry to feel that everything he wanted for his son required him asking for the help of others. Thankfully, there were many willing to help but, as usual, the help offered was accompanied with terms. All these offers to help with "terms" created more forks in the road and many hours of pondering which decisions to make. Julian? He just needed to focus on practicing the piano, cello and the guitar. In retrospect, it is amazing to find that often times little Julian instinctively knew a lot of the answer all along.
Henry loved the guitar but he also knew that it would be hard to make a living with an instrument that was not taken seriously. This led him to push Julian toward the piano and the cello while keeping the guitar in the background. Julian held the answer all along. When Henry finally realized that his son's passion for the guitar would more likely lead him closer to success than playing another instrument, the path became much clearer. Henry's fear of his son's eventual failure with the classical guitar always kept him thinking of an alternate plan. The additionally stringed guitar was one such alternate plan that brought discord amongst Julian's supporters. Dr. Boris Perrot supported playing guitars that deviated from the traditional classical and supported and outmoded unsuccessful guitar playing method. Dr. Perrot's support could not extend beyond verbal encouragement. Wilfred Appleby was a strong supporter of the traditional 6 stringed classical guitar and he had connections that would facilitate Julian's career but only if he played the traditional classical guitar. Additionally, Appleby strongly supported the Tárrega guitar methodology that had proven to be successful to other guitarist. Henry was not sure his son could have a viable future playing the classical guitar since there was already a great classical guitarist in existence-Andrés Segovia. Henry felt additional strings might give Julian additional options. In the end, Julian liked playing either guitar but the support was only available if he played the traditional classical guitar so the decision should have been quite easier than it was.
When Andrés Segovia offered to take young Julian with him on his travels for a year or more, Henry was once again faced with two paths and not sure which one to take. Had the decision been in reference to himself, then it might have been easier. The decision, in this case, involved his young son. Not only are children the greatest thing in a parent's life, but he and Julian had been on this classical guitar path together for several years which resulted in an increased amount of time spent in each other's company. If he made the decision to send Julian with Segovia, their roads would part. In addition to being apart from his son, there was the pressure of knowing that constant exposure to a strong-minded individual such as Segovia could end up suppressing Julian's individuality. So Henry was always caught between trying to make the right decision the better decision. His remedy for the situation was to submerge Julian deep into musical territory not explored by Segovia. Julian would create an outlet for the British classical guitar composers that Segovia would have never provided. A musical influence that could spill over into his interpretation of the Spanish music that Julian and Segovia shared an interest in. This would help Julian maintain some of his individuality whether he chose to pursue the tutelage of the maestro or not.
This would become a pivotal point in Julian's career as a professional classical guitarist later on. A decision that clearly defined and set Julian apart from the already hugely famous Segovia. This could arguably be Henry's most important decision on his son's behalf, to guide him towards the influence of modern British composers and acknowledge their worth in the world of classical music.
Sadly, Henry did not live long enough to see clear signs that his son would definitively succeed as a classical guitarist. His own measure of Julian's success as a classical guitarist would have been a recital at the famous Wigmore Hall, but that did not come till after Henry's death. A few times the Wigmore Hall came close to reality within his lifetime and something would happen to destroy that reality. Henry's consolation prize was knowing that his son was a truly gifted musician that had the ability to move those that came close enough to hear him play his classical guitar. How many people that would be, he would never know.