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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 9 reviews
on August 14, 2007
this is an invaluable overview of the life and career of the greatest interpretive guitarist and lutenist of the 20th century. others may have had a mechanically superior technique, but no one has penetrated as far into the spirit of so many musical styles -- the renaissance and modern repertoires in particular. no guitarist should pass up the opportunity to enjoy this historical and personal story.

the narrative is very good on bream's early years, especially regarding his relationship with his father and his transition from home schooled musician to royal academy graduate and wigmore hall debut. after that the chronology becomes hard to follow, and both his recording contracts and his concert career are slighted. as a young man i treasured his early RCA recordings and while a student in europe in 1961 attended four of bream's consecutive continental concerts, and recall with awe the variety in his programs and the consistent brilliance of his playing. however the musical samples do illustrate his performances from the 1960's onward, including a spicy rehearsal session with the bream consort and duets with george malcolm and peter pears. these give a glimpse of his stupendous lute technique.

i was happy to see the glorious pile of an english estate that bream bought in the 1960's and where he lives today and, in the film, narrates much of his life. but there is more footage of his cricket matches than of his wife and children, no mention of musical management or projects such as his "julian bream edition" of guitar works, and as an old man whose dear companion is a dog, his life appears detached from friends and colleagues. but what is here will be dear to every one who grew up in the 60's practicing guitar in emulation of his example.
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on August 29, 2007
I enjoyed this video. This is probably the best video on Bream's backround that I have found. He talks with such enthusiasm that can captivate anyone. The archival material was superb as well as some of the newer performances he did for this video.

Watching him perform, it seems so effortless. I loved hearing the stories about him and his father taking guitar lessons together when he showed interest in the instrument.

Bream appears so down to earth and approachable. There was a funny moment when Bream introduced himself to Stravinsky while the composer was clearly there to hear one of his own performances. He took out his lute and continued to play one movement of a piece in front of him. By the time it was over, Stravinsky left.

I believe Julian Bream is one of the most gifted musicians of our time.
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on April 2, 2007
Julian Bream is often credited with defining the classical guitar and lute repertoire in Great Brittan. "My Life In Music" is Mr. Bream's autobiographical retrospective on his formative years as an artist from his first guitar and piano lessons, into his explorations of the lute and jazz and classical guitar repertoire in his early professional years, and through his on going quest to make music his audience and he enjoy.

Great attention was paid to the production quality of the DVD. The views of Mr. Bream's home and English towns and country side are wonderful. The full spectrum of Mr. Bream's repertoire is presented with good sound quality. My only complaint is that there is not enough time spent with Mr. Bream performing. I would not edit out any of the narrative or scenic shots, I would simply add more time with Mr. Bream and his guitar or lute. This minor criticism is partially mitigated by the inclusion of three bonus performances by Mr. Bream.

All in all, this is a very satisfying and well rounded, nostalgic look at Mr. Bream's "life in music."
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on March 23, 2015
as good as it gets.
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on September 10, 2011
When this feature film was shot Bream was 70. He decided to retire after 55 years "on the planks" regarding this as quite long enough -- the time having come for someone else to take over.
He was influenced by his father, a natural musician who couldn't read music, but who could play all the popular songs of the period. From his father's jazz record collection, Bream became especially interested in Django Reinhardt's guitar playing which simulated him so much so that he was drawn to the guitar. He says that Reinhardt's playing was "so evocative, so powerful at times, so dramatic and then, other times, so lyrical that he seemed to hold within his musical grasp the whole gamut of human expression".
On his father's guitar he played along with the dance bands heard on the radio, he got some rudimentary chords from a guitar tablature book and his father taught him the roots of harmony for the guitar. When his father's dance band had a gig, he played along with them -- sitting behind a curtain -- thus getting to know the standards. His father gave him a Spanish guitar, but he had difficulty playing it. This was a `"gut strung" guitar which required being played finger picking style whereas he was used to playing with a plectrum. So his father ended up teaching him finger picking style. Father and son got themselves a tutor and together they went for classical guitar lessons.
Then his father brought home a recording of "Recuerdo de la Alhambra" performed by Andres Segovia. Upon hearing this Bream had no doubt that he wanted to play that style. At the age of about 11 he and his father went to a gathering of the Philharmonic Society of Guitarists where Bream was at random asked to give a performance. He had to borrow a guitar, but his performance was met with much applause. Bream went to a Segovia concert and took with a pair of binoculars which he kept focussed throughout on Segovia's right hand. He was interested to see how the maestro's right hand worked.
He was admitted to the Royal College of Music, although they didn't offer guitar lessons. He was allowed to study without having to pay for classes whatsoever. When Bream told a class who his favourite composer was, the tutor responded: "Fernando Sor! ... never heard of him". He was also barred from bringing his guitar to the College, apparently because the authorities feared that the students, having heard him play, might themselves want guitar lessons --which the College didn't offer.
He discovered a keyboard arrangement of John Dowland's lute music in a library and realised how suitable this music was for the guitar. But he aspired to play this music on the instrument for which it was originally intended. This he ended up doing and thus began his lifelong association with the lute and his becoming the supremo thereof.
We see Bream in these scenarios: Improvising in a combo a-la Django Reinhardt; performing with "The Julian Bream Consort"; playing with India's Ali Akbar Khan; playing with guitarist John Williams; engaging Stravinsky in conversation and playing for him on the lute.
Benjamin Britten composed his "Nocturnal" especially for Bream. Many other composers, including Richard Rodney Bennett, responded to Bream's request to write for the guitar. As Bream became more interested in the piano repertoire, he felt that the repertoire of the guitar was lacking in variety as well as quality. He thereupon embarked upon a quest to find new music for the guitar which had no Spanish base or influence.
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on December 4, 2016
great
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on April 4, 2010
I loved this dvd. Saw the musician, saw the man behind the talent, saw the boy who became that man. Lots of 'vignettes' of him playing and of the influences that inspired him. Well put together.
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on May 20, 2007
I didn't enjoy too much this DVD. it's much better the "music journey through Spain". but it's not bad at all, just less interesting.
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