Questions for Mr. Bream

In doing this website dedicated to Julian Bream, as you can imagine, many questions continue to arise. These are the questions that I would ask Julian Bream if I were ever to have the opportunity to sit down with him for a cup tea. Aside from a few silly questions at the end, most of them are very valid questions that he may or may not have any answers to.

Early classical guitar concerts by other performers.

- We know that as a child you saw Segovia perform in concert with an orchestra. There were many other famous guitarists coming through England in the early 1950s.  

  How many of those concerts did you see? How impressed were you with their playing? Ida Presti? Maria Luisa Anido? Narciso Yepes?

Early performances

- There is some talk that you did not actually play a Quine guitar at your Wigmore Hall debut. The claim is that you actually perfomred with a Martin classical guitar. Was

  the Martin played on your second Wigmore Hall recital or was that the Houser that you famously left behind on the curb? The Houser was most definitely used for your

  3rd Wigmore Hall recital on May 9, 1953? Did you ever even own a Martin classical guitar?

General questions relating to all the albums as a whole.

- Did you have any input with the designing of your LP front covers? Back covers?

- Did you have any input with the musical concept behind a particular LP? (question in relation to comment stated on Testament liner notes).

- Why were the front LP covers often changed in different regions?  Was it your idea, a marketing strategy from the label, etc...?

- Why were the front album covers often changed when the albums was selected for reissues a few years later? Was it your idea, a marketing strategy from the label, etc...?

The Golden Age Singers

- Your first recordings destined for release on an LP was a session musician (lute player) with The Golden Age Singers.

  Do you remember anything about these sessions and the different singers that made up the group?

- Why did these recordings take so long for the label to release?

- Did you ever associate with the Golden Age Singers again after that recording session?

An Anthology of English Song-first LP release

- Your first session recordings with the Golden Age Singers took over a year to be released. In the interim you recorded an album with Peter Pears on Decca that actually

   ended up being released first. Do you remember the story behind this? 

Westminster Albums

- I absolutely love your playing and interpretive style in all 4 of these early record. The concept and selections for the albums demonstrated a lot of maturity and respect 

  for the composers. How much do you like them?

Peter Pears and Elizabethan Music

- By the time you released your first RCA album, you had already recorded two albums of Elizabethan Music with Peter Pears. Which aspect did you enjoy more, 

   accompanying a singer, playing with the consort or playing the solo lute?

- The last recordings with Peter Pears were from 1969, is there any specific reason why the collaboration came to an end?

RCA period

- What were the main reasons that made you leave Westminster for RCA?

- Aside from the obvious financial aspect, do you think it was the right decision in retrospect?

- How was recording different with each label?

Art of Julian Bream

- When the Art of Julian Bream was finally released, did it feel different? Did you feel like your career was finally taking off?

The Golden Age of Lute Music and An Evening of Elizabethan Music

- Your essentially new at RCA and your only two guitar albums in, what made you say "It's time to pull out the lute?"

- Both albums were released on the RCA Soria Series label. The presentation for both of these albums was "Regal". Was that their idea or yours?

- Was RCA on board with all the lute albums that you ended up recording for the label? Did your lute albums sell as well as the guitar albums or were the lute albums a

  guilty pleasure?

- What was RCA's initial reaction to the consort idea?

Julian Bream in Concert

- This was the only solo concert album you ever released in your lengthy recording career. Where you happy with this album?

Baroque Guitar

- Fernando Sor is not generally considered to be Baroque music yet the two pieces you included in the album do not feel out of place. What made you think that these two

  pieces would actually work with this concept album?

- These pieces were almost made for guitar, but you are an accomplished lute player. What made you opt for a guitar when you could have pulled out the lute?

Popular Classics for the Spanish Guitar

- I remember that record being sold everywhere! It was also one of the first of your backcatalog to see the CD format. Where you aware that the album was selling so well?

- The recording quality of that record sounds like it was recorded in a large open space. Did you like how that recording turned out?

- What is the main reason why you did not pick such a popular album as one of your favorites for the small box set?

Rodrigo, Vivaldi, Britten

- You performed the "Concierto de Aranjuez" in 1951 for BBC Arts with the BBC Opera Orchestra conducted by Stanford Robinson. How did it feel to finally have that concerto on vinyl?

- From 1951 to 1963, what made you decide to put off the actual recording of the concert for that long?

- Did you play the concerto frequently in between that time period?

- What is your favorite part of this album, the Rodrigo or Britten?

J.S. Bach Suites, Nos. 1 and 2

- You've often spoken about being a meat and potatoes kind of man. This album was definitely a man-sized portion of grub and I loved it! You were happy with it too?

- It was one of your favorites. Why?

20th Century Guitar

- Was this album the secret weapon you were holding on too for a special occasion?

- How long had you been collecting the pieces for that album? How long did you play them before you felt they were ready?

- What made you think that 1968 was the right time to drop that atomic bomb of a record?

- Classical guitar music has never been the same ever since. Do you know what Segovia thought of that particular record?

Julian Bream and His Friends

- Did this album make you realize you wanted to record a whole album with George Malcolm?

Sonatas for the Lute and Harpsichord

- I really love this album. I would have thought that the lute could not have been on the same stage with the harpsichord.

- This album is so well recorded in my opinion. How did the studio engineer get it so right? Were you happy with this album?

Concertos for Lute and Orchestra

- This is another musical combination that I thought for sure would not work. It is a great album! Do you agree?

- What do you think works and is there anything you thought didn't work very well on this record?

Villa-Lobos: 12 Etudes for Guitar and Suite Populaire Brésilienne

- This was your second album dedicated exclusively to Villa-Lobos.  So many guitarist have dedicated whole albums to Villa-Lobos. How do you think yours compares?

- Which one of your two Villa-Lobos albums due you feel better represents the composer's vision given that Villa-Lobos was so particular?

Julian Bream and John Williams "LIVE"

- This recording was a monster seller as far as classical guitar albums go. Did you feel the tour itself was as successful musically as the final recording?

- Any crazy tour stories with John you may want to share? I can keep a secret - I promise!

Music of Spain Series

- After the huge success of the Live album with Williams, you conjured up a six year-long brain storm called the "Music of Spain". You not only cranked out tons of             

  Spanish repertoire from the past 5 centuries but you performed half of them on period instruments. Then, to top it all off, you make a film series about the whole thing.

  How exhausted were you by the late 1980's?

-Despite the large amount of works recorded for the project, it appears that some volumes were missing although you somewhat make up for it on the ¡Guitarra! LP.

 After volume 1 (dedicated to Spanish renaissance pieces), you skipped the Spanish baroque period and recorded volume 4 - the classical period (Sor and Aguado).

 What happened to volume 2 and 3? Was it recorded and never released or never got around to it?

- Volume 5, the Spanish Nationalist (Albéniz and Granados), was a great album and an obvious favorite of yours. That could have been a double album, no?

- So you decide to skip volume 6 and record volume 8, a great record where you revisit the "Aranjuez" for the third time. We understand, you are doing a music series on   

  Spain and so you can't leave out the "Aranjuez"! A good excuse to record it one more time. Did you find something within this recording of the "Aranjuez" that you didn't    quite see prior?

- So you come back to volume 7 and you record Segovia inspired works. Why did you not go back to the unrecorded vol 2, 3 and 6?

- The ¡Guitarra! film series was somewhat of the climax of the whole "Music of Spain" series. A few years later at the end of the decade, RCA releases The Guitarra   

  Romantica which included some leftover pieces from what should likely have been vol. 6 of the Music of Spain series and you recorded some additional Tárrega period   

  pieces by Llobet, Pujol to fill out the album.  Even though the whole volume series wasn't quite complete, did you feel it was just time to move on?

¡Guitarra! A Musical Journey Through Spain.

- You weren't pleased with the finished product at the time and even offered to cover the cost for some production changes and you were told no.

  Has time changed your views about the film series?

- The guitar community loves this film series, do you still not feel the love?

- Were any of the guitar pieces recorded on location or were all the guitar pieces recorded in the studio and you just played along in the film?

From RCA to EMI

- Why leave a record company that had been instrumental in the success of your career for 40 years?

- The four albums recorded with EMI were incredible. The sound and production was so clean and crisp. Was a new environment something you had been searching for?

- Were you more pleased with the recording process and production at EMI than at RCA?

In relation to the first Box Set released in 1993 in commemoration for your 60th birthday.

- Was the concept of grouping certain albums together in one disc by composers or periods, despite the difference in recording techniques throughout a 40 year period, 

  something that you felt worked in the end or were you dissatisfied with some of the discs?

- Were any of the decisions made with this box set (getting 40 LPs squeezed into 28 CDs) dictated more by finances and bottom lines or was it more the actual size of a 40  

  CD box set in a time when jewel cases (not slip sleeves) were the norm?

- How do you think this box set compares to the newly released The Complete RCA Album Collection? 

- Some hard decision were made with the early box set that some view as obvious mistakes. Was leaving your collaborative albums with John Williams out of the box set a 

  reasonable decision or a mistake in your view?

- Most of the selections of side 3 and 4 of ¡Guitarra! The Guitar in Spain were left off because it would have created repeated selections throughout the box set. So why

  then were the 3 Tárrega pieces from this album (found in vol. 27 of the box set) included when the exact recordings were already included in the box set in vol. 26?

-Why was the de Falla piece "Danza del Molinero (Miller's Dance)" left out of the box set when one of the repeated Tárrega pieces could have been easily sacrificed?


Julian Bream: My Favorite Albums

- Did you truly pick these out yourself?

- What do you like about these albums? 

- As a group of 10 recordings, what characteristics would you say they all have in common that made you pick them or is the fact that they are favorite album, in a singular sense, really the only common thread to the small box set.


- When the label prepared this small box set, did you have any idea that RCA was going to follow it up in a few years with The Complete RCA Album Collection? 

- Why favorite and not favourite?

The Complete RCA Album Collection

- This box set exudes total class! Where you as completely impressed with this box set as everybody else?

- Did they leave anything out that you really wanted to be included?

- Did you have anything to do with the omission of the ¡Guitarra! A Musical Journey Through Spain DVD from you spectacular box set?

- A lot of recording artists record more than what they actually need for an actual LP release.

  Do you remember if there might be any unreleased recordings in the vaults at RCA? Westminster? Decca? 

Guitar questions

- Was there only one Romanillos 1973 guitar?

- You used this guitar on more recordings than any other. What was it about that guitar that you liked so much?

- Is the 1964 Bouchet on the Baroque guitar album the same 1964 Bouchet on the JB and JW LIVE album?

- Did anybody ever find the stolen Bouchet guitar? Was this the second Bouchet (1962) you ever owned? Was this guitar stolen in December 1962? Was it stolen from a cab in New York, NY, USA?  The John Williams's book states that it was stolen at the Queen's Elm Pub in Chelsea, London?

Lute questions

- Was the guitar-lute bought by your father and later converted to an actual lute by Thomas Goff, the same lute referred to as the Thomas Goff lute, 1951?

- The lute referred to as Thomas Goff, 1951 later appears to have additional strings. Is this the same lute?

- What was the tuning for the Thomas Goff lute?

- Where is the Thomas Goff lute now? Sold? Donated to a university?

- Did you play the Goff lute at your first Wigmore Hall debut? Do you remember the first concert in which you played the Goff lute?

- Where there two Rubio lutes? Was it a 1967 and a 1968? If so, where they tuned the same?

 -Is the lute on the cover of Music of Spain vol. 1 the 1968 Rubio? 

 -What was the tunning for the Breton lute?

Family questions

Throughout your interviews, you mention your father a great deal since he was such a large part of your early career.

Since we only know about Henry Bream through the world of Julian Bream, it almost sounds as if his life was completely preoccupied with your career as a budding guitarist. How was his relationship with your 3 siblings? Did he try to cultivate the possible musician they may have had inside?  Where your 3 siblings ever included in your journey to become a classical guitar? Did they ever attend your early concerts? Did they attend your Wigmore Hall debut?

- Are any of your siblings musical?

- It appears that Anthony Bream is an accomplished painter. Does anyone else in the family paint or draw?

- Other than the grandmother that owned the bar, did you have any exposure to your other grandparents?

- Have you been married once or twice (I've heard that there might have been a third)?


- You were an accomplished pianist as a youth, are there any home recordings of you playing the piano? Are there any pictures?

- Are there any home recordings or pictures of you playing the cello?

BBC Radio shows

- There are many BBC radio shows that you recorded as a youth prior to your adult audio recording career. Have they ever been made available to you for re-evaluation?

- Do you think you would enjoy revisiting those early radio shows and have the opportunity to critique you playing as a youth? 


- How many RCA discs have you received?

- Platinum disc to mark record sales of 500,000 in the UK alone. Is this for one specific album or all RCA albums to that point?

- Gold and Silver discs for duo recordings with John Williams. Were these both for Julian and John, Julian and John/2 and/or Julian Bream and John Williams LIVE ?


- The Queen has bestowed you with the OBE and the CBE. You promote and support the arts through scholarships, you have helped young performers establish their careers and you've been generally, a very positive influence in your community and country.

Why have you not been knighted yet?

Silly Questions

- Can you tell me how many times you had two albums instead of one being nominated for a grammy award in the same year?

- Can you tell me which one of your RCA album LP mentions the Beatles in the liner notes on the back cover?

- Do you like Agatha Christie Mysteries? If so, who is your favourite - Hercules Poirot or Miss Marple?