From the Library of Julian Bream – An Exhibition of his Scores and Manuscripts

We are delighted to have added to our special collections the personal music library of guitarist Julian Bream. The scores in the collection reflect every aspect of his long career as one of the world’s greatest guitar players, and many items contain an abundance of markings from his performances and recordings of the pieces.

photo by S.Hurok (public domain)

Bream’s tireless work in expanding the guitar’s repertoire is reflected in both original manuscript copies of his arrangements, as well as copies of works specially-commissioned by Bream from leading twentieth-century composers, including Benjamin Britten, Peter Maxwell-Davies, Lennox Berkeley and Hans Werner Henze, among others.

 

Bream’s Life & Legacy

It’s hard to overstate Julian Bream’s contribution to the classical guitar. Through his long career of performances, recordings and arrangements, it seems fair to say that no-one since Andrés Segovia has done so much to increase both the reputation and the repertoire of the classical guitar. As Graham Wade puts it:

“Bream’s stature as one of the greatest masters of the guitar has been established for many years. The deep intensity of his playing, the sheer beauty of his tone control, and his profound empathy with a great range of music, have enabled him to achieve a radical extension of the guitar repertory and to reach the widest possible audience for half a century.”[1]

Some of Bream’s arrangements on display

Something that makes Bream’s achievements all the more remarkable is that his guitar technique was ‘home-made’, as he puts it. After initial lessons with his father, he did later attend the Royal College of Music with a full scholarship, but he did so as a student of cello and piano, as guitar wasn’t taught at the college at the time. Beginning with a debut at the Wigmore hall in 1950, Bream soon began to play a significant part in changing the status of the guitar with recitals throughout Britain, followed by European, then North and South American concert tours in subsequent years.

It was around the time of Bream’s first guitar recitals that he also picked up the lute and, as Diana Poulton remarks in her book John Dowland, as early as 1951, ‘astonished everyone with the brilliance of his musicianship and his complete technical mastery of the lute’.[2] Again, as with the guitar, his achievements are all the more exceptional in light of his position as a self-taught pioneer of the instrument:

”When I began playing the lute, in 1950, there were not too many lutenists around. I had to work hard, writing out music in museums and libraries. […] And I had just picked up the lute, adapted my guitar technique to it and went from there.”[3]

A few years later, in 1959, he formed of the Julian Bream Consort, a period-instrument ensemble with Bream as lutenist. The group was initially put together simply in order to play Morley’s First Book of Consort Lessons, but their subsequent success did a lot to stimulate the popularity of early consort music in general.

Another important element of Bream’s career is his extensive back catalogue of recordings. His prolific recording output covers the whole spectrum of repertoire for guitar and lute, including his large catalogue of iconic RCA recordings, television masterclasses and his ‘¡Guitarra!’ documentary, wherein he explored the whole history of the vihuela and guitar in Spain, playing specially-commissioned historic instruments for the project.

Expanding the Repertoire

Julian Bream commissioned, performed and recorded works by some of the twentieth-century’s leading composers. On display from the Jerwood Library’s new collection are pieces from Peter Maxwell-Davies, Stephen Dodgson, Reginald Smith-Brindle, Joaquín Rodrigo and Benjamin Britten, all containing gracious notes and dedications to the guitarist. Other well-known composers that Bream inspired to write for the guitar include Malcolm Arnold (Guitar Concerto, Fantasy), Michael Tippett (The Blue Guitar), Leo Brouwer (Concerto elegiaco, Sonata), Lennox Berkeley (Guitar Concerto, Sonatina, Theme and Variations), Richard Rodney Bennett (Guitar Concerto, Impromptus, Sonata), Alan Rawsthorne (Elegy) and William Walton (Five Bagatelles).[4] Bream’s efforts in this area made great strides in expanding the horizons of the twentieth-century guitar beyond its previous limits as an almost exclusively Spanish art form—as it was in the hands of older composers like Pujol, Torroba, Mompou & Rodrigo—to a more eclectic range of international styles and approaches.

Bream’s copy of the final page of Britten’s Nocturnal

In particular, Benjamin Britten’s Nocturnal After John Dowland, op.70—written for and premiered by Bream—is widely considered to be a crowning jewel of the twentieth-century guitar repertoire.  The Nocturnal takes the form of an unorthodox set of theme and variations, with each of the work’s eight movements coming gradually closer to Dowland’s Come, Heavy Sleep from his First Book of Songs, which is eventually quoted in full at the conclusion of the work. Included in the collection is Bream’s 2nd working copy of the piece, with many interesting differences in fingering from the original published copy.

A selection of Bream’s hand-written transcriptions of works by Weiss, Tárrega and Cimarosa

As well as commissioning new work, Bream made great strides in increasing the breadth and depth of the music available for guitar through his work as an editor and arranger. Included in the exhibition are a selection of the guitarist’s own handwritten arrangements of pieces for the solo guitar, including works by Tárrega, Weiss, Cimarosa, Albéniz and Granados. His recordings and performances of pieces like these went a long way to establishing many of them as staples of the guitar repertoire.

For anyone interested in learning more about Julian Bream’s fascinating career, an excellent place to start is the feature-length DVD ‘Julian Bream: My Life in Music‘ (available in the library at the DVD class-mark PER: BRE).

Accessing the Collection

The collection is held in closed access, but specific items of interest can be retrieved by library staff. The contents are currently being catalogued to item level on the Jerwood Library catalogue and may be browsed by choosing ‘Julian Bream Collection’ from the ‘Source’ option. Items of particular interest can also be browsed via the collection handlist. Viewing specific items in person during library opening hours is by appointment via jlpa@trinitylaban.ac.uk.


[1] Peter Sensier and Graham Wade, ‘Bream, Julian’ in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online, <https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.03900> (accessed 26/4/18)

[2] Diana Poulton. John Dowland (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982),447

[3] Allan Kozinn, ‘Julian Bream Sets off in  New (Old) Direction’, The New York Times Online (accessed 19/4/18)Ibid.

[4] Peter Sensier and Graham Wade, ‘Bream, Julian’ in Grove Music Online, Oxford Music Online, <https://doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.03900> (accessed 26/4/18)

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Over 200 new DVDs added to the library!

The Jerwood Library has been fortunate to receive another very generous donation and this time, it’s DVDs from Billy Newman. Firstly, we checked through them all for duplicates, selling the few we found on to staff and students to raise some funds for the library. My colleague Helen then had the huge task of cataloguing all of the them so that when someone searches the catalogue, they’ll find them easily. To search only for DVDs, simply change the ‘type’ to ‘DVD’.

New DVDs

A selection of the new DVDs waiting to go out onto the library shelves

We’ve got a wide variety of genres on DVD; from masterclasses to films and from musicals to yoga. Many of the new DVDs are operas and what is great is that we’ve got maybe 3 or 4 different versions of the same opera. If you can’t find the opera you’re looking for, or you’re away for the summer, why not try using our online resource: Opera in Video?

Current students and staff can borrow up to four DVDs at once for a week at a time. We’re open for most of the summer so why not take advantage and try out some of the great DVDs the library has to offer – you might just be surprised by what you find!

New music for singers

The third phase of the library’s printed music strategy got underway this year. Having built up our collection of jazz, full scores, and opera, it was time to focus our attention on solo songs and collections. Look out for new works by contemporary composers such as Michael Finnissy, Giacinto Scelsi, Robin Holloway, Thomas Ades, Piers Hellawell, Tansy Davies, Roxanna Panufnik, Joanna Lee, Lynne Plowman, and Sally Beamish, as well as new additions from the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and modern repertoires.

This year we are looking to develop our collection of music for violinists (solo music and accompanied), so if you have any recommendations please let us know. Requests for specific pieces – in any category – can be made by completing a purchase request form, available at the enquiry desk or on Moodle.

The library’s most recent printed music acquisitions are listed here, please keep checking for updates!

Cover images are reproduced with the kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes and Hal Leonard.

New sheet music in the library – more jazz, more full scores and more opera!

South LibraryYou may recall that last year we endeavoured to strengthen our holdings of contemporary music; over 100 contemporary works were added to the collection.This year we’ve turned our attention to jazz, opera and full scores.

Our jazz section has been enhanced with new music by composers such as Oliver Nelson, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bob Brookmeyer, Kenny Wheeler and Herbie Hancock, as well as a host of anthologies, instruction manuals and transcription books.

Over 100 full scores, study scores & miniature scores have been added to the collection. Look out for new music by composers such as Toru Takemitsu, Nicholas Maw, Rodion Shchedrin, Harrison Birtwistle, Harry Partch, Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann, as well as newly published editions of standard repertoire.

We hope our singing students will benefit from the many new vocal scores in the library. These range from 19th and early 20th century operas – composers such as Massenet (“Sapho”), Rouselle, (“La Testement de la tante Caroline”), Ibert (“Angelique”) and Verdi (“Oberto”) – through to contemporary works by Peter Eotvos (“Love & Other Demons”), John Adams (“Doctor Atomic”) and Dominick Argento (“Christopher Sly” & “Postcard from Morocco”).

We will be furthering the development of our vocal section in the coming year. This time the focus will shift to smaller scale works, in particular the library’s collection of solo songs & collections.

Keep checking the Library Info section of the catalogue for our most recently added titles

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Opera for the cello: introducing Landrock and Kummer

A while back we promised that we would tell you more about some exciting finds we made in a donation of cello music. So, here goes…

Kummer l'elegant - Copy

L’élégant : divertimento on Herold’s opera Pré aux Clercs / Friedrich August Kummer, 1797-1879 (London : Wessel & Co., [183-?] )

As well as making lots of useful additions to our stock, we came across three extremely rare examples of early nineteenth-century opera arrangements for cello and piano. The works might not be well known today, but they offer a fascinating insight into contemporary music-making. They were composed with the domestic amateur market in mind, a growing middle-class group of people who could afford music, instruments and trips to the opera, and wanted to be able to recreate their favourite opera tunes in the home.

The first two pieces are arrangements by Friedrich Kummer of Ferdinand Hérold’s comic opera Le Pré aux Clercs. This opera had first been performed in Paris on 15 December 1832 and was considered to be one of the finest of its period. Kummer on the other hand was a little-known German cellist and composer who specialised in writing cello music for the amateur market. These two numbers he arranged from Le Pré aux Clerc – ‘L’élégant’ and the ‘Adagio and Rondoletto’ – were published in London soon after the premiere of the opera, demonstrating the speed with which music was adapted and travelled across Europe at this time. We also have an early edition of Le Pré aux Clerc in the special collections which formed part of Jullien’s Royal Conservatory of Music.

Landrock duo - Copy

Duo pour le piano et violoncelle sur les thêmes de l’opéra d’Auber Le Domino Noir / F. Landrock (Mayence [Mainz] et Anvers : chez les fils de B. Schott, [ca.1839])

The third example is by François Landrock and is an arrangement for cello and piano of Daniel Auber’s comic opera Le Domino Noir. This opera was first performed in Paris on 2 December 1837 and, again, was hugely successful throughout Europe. Landrock was a professor at the Geneva Conservatory and made this arrangement of the main themes of Auber’s opera around 1839. We also hold various full scores, vocal scores, and recordings of Le Domino Noir in the library so you can find out for yourself why it was so popular in the early nineteenth century.

We don’t know of any other copies of these arrangements in UK libraries, so if you would like to have a look for yourself, or would like performance copies made, then please get in touch.

Ronald Stevenson: RIP

Photo of Trinity Laban's Karl Lutchmayer with Ronald Stevenson and his wife Marjorie Spedding

Trinity Laban’s Karl Lutchmayer with Ronald Stevenson and his wife Marjorie Spedding (October 2014). Photo used with permission from Karl Lutchmayer.

We at the Jerwood Library are saddened to hear of the recent passing of Ronald Stevenson.

Stevenson was a gifted pianist and prolific composer, mainly composing songs and keyboard works. He was inspired by Busoni, and also drew on influences from Scotland (where he lived for many years) and elsewhere in his work. Malcolm MacDonald, his biographer, writes in Stevenson’s Grove entry that:

[His work] simultaneously draws inspiration from the folk music of many countries and uses the most sophisticated Western techniques.

Trinity Laban lecturer and pianist Karl Lutchmayer was close to Ronald Stevenson, and most recently visited him in October 2014 (as pictured above). Thanks to Karl, the Ronald Stevenson Society made a very generous and comprehensive donation of Ronald Stevenson scores and sheet music to the Jerwood Library. This donation has been fully catalogued and can be found on the library’s shelves. Follow this link to view a full listing of our Ronald Stevenson sheet music, or search our catalogue for Ronald Stevenson as composer and limit by type to sheet music/score.

In addition we own several recordings which feature Ronald Stevenson’s playing or his music, including this CD which combines both in one recording: his own 1964 performance of the 80-minute Passacaglia on DSCH, possibly the longest single-movement piano work in existence.

Martin Anderson describes the genesis of this piece in his obituary of Stevenson for The Independent:

He began a series of variations on DSCH (in German notation Shostakovich’s monogram gives the four notes D, E flat, C and B) and found that the music kept flowing – rather as Bach built the Goldberg Variations on a little lullaby and Beethoven his Diabelli Variations on a cocky little waltz.

If you would like to learn more about Ronald Stevenson or purchase any of his works, visit the Ronald Stevenson Society website. We also have Malcolm MacDonald’s biography of Stevenson in the library shelved at 789 STE.