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Julian Bream photographed by S. Hurok in 1964

Julian Bream, RCM alumnus, 1933 – 2020

Monday 17 August 2020

Renowned classical guitarist Julian Bream CBE, who studied at the Royal College of Music from 1948, has died aged 87.

Hailing from a musical family, Julian Bream was a child prodigy and at age 12 won a junior exhibition award for his piano playing. At 15 he joined the Royal College of Music as a piano and composition student.

Julian had a distinguished and internationally renowned performing career as a guitarist, working with some of the 20th century’s most important musicians and composers. He won four Grammy Awards and his catalogues of recordings for RCA and EMI Classics sit alongside his many BBC radio and TV appearances. In the 1960s he formed the Julian Bream Consort, performing as the group’s lutenist.

RCM Director, Professor Colin Lawson, comments: ‘Julian will be greatly missed across the musical world. Amongst a multitude of achievements, he expanded the range of guitar works by commissioning dozens of new compositions. How proud we are to have him amongst our alumni. He will remain an inspirational figure to our current and future students.’

During his career, Julian did much to place the classical guitar at the forefront of the professional classical music world, commissioning and performing the works of composers including Lennox and Michael Berkeley, Malcolm Arnold, Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, William Walton and Peter Maxwell Davies. Benjamin Britten's Nocturnal is arguably the one of the most famous pieces in the classical guitar repertoire and was written with Julian specifically in mind.

In 2008, he set up the Julian Bream Trust to provide financial assistance for the less well-off, young and gifted music students and to continue the important work of commissioning new compositions for the guitar.