Julian Bream, the English classical guitarist and lutenist has passed away. He was 87.
Bream played a significant role in promoting the classical guitar as a solo instrument. He expanded the repertoire, inspiring new works by numerous twentieth century composers, including Benjamin Britten, Sir William Walton, Sir Michael Tippett, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Toru Takemitsu.
One of the most influential works written for Bream is Benjamin Britten’s 1963 Nocturnal After John Dowland, Op. 70. Set in nine movements, it’s a collection of variations on Dowland’s “Come, Heavy Sleep” from the First Book of Songs, published in 1597. As the piece unfolds, each variation moves closer to the original song. Here are the final moments of the piece, performed by Julian Bream. The Passacaglia leads into the final movement, Slow and Quiet, a nostalgic echo of John Dowland’s original theme:
- Britten: Nocturnal, after John Dowland Op. 70, Julian Bream Amazon