25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2005
My Life In Music
* * * * *
Music On Earth MoE 002
A music DVD masterpiece
Julian Bream retired in 2003 after an incredible 50 year career. After seeing director Paul Balmer's award-winning DVD on Stephane Grappelli, Bream - a life-long devotee of Grappelli associate Django Reinhardt - set aside plans for a standard autobiography and invited Balmer to collaborate on a life story in vision instead. Balmer - a hugely experienced film-maker who grew up in the Merseybeat milieu - recalls that he 'took several milliseconds to say yes'! The result is by far the best-made and most captivating biographical film of a musician I've seen, bar none. Beautifully filmed, with stunning sound quality on the two new performances Bream delivers for the cameras (Britten's fiendish 'Nocturnal' and De Falla's 'Homenaje'), the main part of the DVD comprises Julian's life in 32 chapters, lavishly illustrated with archive film - including Django, Stravinsky and a ground-breaking 1963 improvisation with Ali Akbar Khan. As Julian never bothered 'crossing over' into rock, he may have appeared to some as uninteresting. Yet the man in this utterly compelling film is a natural, almost rakish raconteur, himself for many years a maverick outsider - single-handedly forcing, through sheer brilliance, the stuffy classical music world of the 1940s and '50s into accepting the guitar and lute as instruments worth hearing, writing-for and teaching. Balmer uses the DVD format to its limit - camera angle options, director's commentary, and a mass of bonus material on film, in text form and in audio (eg. a full 23 minute previously unreleased BBC radio session). Forget genres: anyone interested in the history of the guitar in the 20th century will be stunned and delighted with this fabulous document.
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2006
This DVD is just perfect, from the superb performances to the warmth and insight of the man himself. The settings - 'The Maltings' for the pieces recorded for the DVD and his house in Hardy country for the reminscences are quite beautiful. Additionally you get lots of archive footage of JB, together with a duet with John Williams and a surprise bonus - a chunk of Django Reinhardt which is very rare.
It's only recently that I've come to realise his preeminence as a guitarist, with more feel and drive than your average modern-day classical guitarists who tend to sound timid and careful in comparison. This is all apparent on the DVD. The anecdotes, from his humble beginnings to his work with Britten and Villa-Lobos are all very entertaining and enlightening. A great production. Totally recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2006
This DVD is the second in the series (the first about the Stephane Grappelli) from this company, and this retrospective on the career of Julian Bream is fantastic. It contains constant narration from the man himself, with sparing commentary by the interviewer. Chapters are well organised and accessible, extras are great, as well as some audio only material. We get to see and hear Bream playing from age 13 to his retirement in various settings.
The striking thing is what a down to earth and graceful musician he is. He shows no lofty pretentiousness about his virtuosity or the music he plays, and his anecdotes are often very amusing. He has explored and played early Spanish and Baroque guitars and learned the lute to give the early repertoire some authenticity. Without Bream, the Royal College of Music would doubtless still regard the guitar as a lesser "cowboy" instrument (as one of Bream's own tutors called it!), and it would still not be taught there today!
Throughout this DVD, his playing is simply sublime. As a guitarist of any genre, it is a real inspiration to watch, and for a non-guitarist, an invaluable document of a great career and how the classical instrument should be played. Buy it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 January 2014
Sounding like an eloquent, civilised cross between Lionel Bart and Alan Sugar, Bream is not a bit stuffy and is full of warmth. His words, the clips, the references... all combine for a terrific finished article.
Me, my wife, 12 year old son (who is studying guitar) and my mother in law were all really taken by this film so he clearly spans the generations.
I am not sure why this man never did a lot more for TV -- he is a natural.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2013
Excellent ,charmingly modest account of Julian Bream's professional life.There were very good and varied recordings of his playing.He has single handedly brought worldwide recognition of the lute and guitar as classical instruments and therefore sparked a huge resurgance in the number of players.