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My Life in Music
My Life in Music
Actor: Julian Bream
Director: Paul Balmer
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2006     2hr 54min

Julian Bream, considered by many as the greatest classic guitarist of the 20th century, tells the remarkable story of his life in music. Over three hours of material, illustrated with over one hour of complete musical perf...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Julian Bream
Director: Paul Balmer
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical
Studio: Avie
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/05/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 54min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Classical,Import
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
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Movie Reviews

A Must See autobiography of a classical guitar icon
Arthur Sprecher | 04/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"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."
Delightful but incomplete tribute
drollere | Sebastopol, CA United States | 08/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"this is an invaluable overview of the life and career of the greatest interpretive guitarist and lutenist of our time. 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 followed bream to four of his 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 practicing guitar in pursuit of his example."
Julian Bream, in his own words
Alan Christopher | USA | 04/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First of all, the pluses. The film is 120 minutes long and I wished it were longer. You get to hear Julian Bream recounting the formation and development of his musical career, speaking directly to the camera. He is charming and frank about a lot of issues. He is generally quite modest and is frequently funny. In all it amounts to a personal and moving story.

Additionally, the director did some things quite to my liking. First he made excellent use of a limited number of old photos and extensive video footage incorporating these into the film effectively. Secondly, the film is punctuated with several filmed performances shown in their entirety and without any voice-over. While these are generally short works or single movements it does amount to about eight clips, each running from 3 to 5 or so minutes long.

The bonus features on the DVD include four additional performed works ("Archive Music Clips") totaling about 18 minutes and nine "bonus chapters" that didn't make it into the final cut. The bonus chapters are mostly additional anecdotes by Bream amounting to about 28 minutes of supplemental material, all worth watching.

There is a ten minute "making of" documentary, but it is used mostly to highlight the individual production contributors (the film crew and so on). Nothing wrong with it - it does catch the spirit of the endeavor but really doesn't make a big contribution to the release. There is no real narrative to this short feature.

There is a directors' commentary track that is also worth hearing but the amount of additional comments is fairly limited. He never speaks over Bream during the commentary, instead commenting during the set-up tracks or the performed works. Still, it was enlightening and worth hearing.

The last feature that I'll mention is a 23 minute audio-only clip of the Richard Rodney Bennett Sonata for Solo Guitar.

As to any negatives, I might name few. The idea for the film was apparently initiated by Bream himself. Aside from some comments made by Richard Rodney Bennett (and a few interjections by the director for continuity) there are no other speaking contributors. I didn't mind that, but keep in mind this is much more of a self-portrait than a profile - it is not your typical "documentary style" biography.

Second, along the same lines, Bream is very frank about his family life - but only to a point. The focus is almost exclusively on his development as a musician. So, I was left wondering what became of his mother (after his parents divorced) or how he got on with his siblings or with his step-siblings or with his step-mother. As another reviewer noted, Breams own marriage is given the briefest of mentions.

I don't fault the film-makers (or Bream himself) for these limitations and I respect his privacy but it did leave me wondering about those types of unanswered questions. His candid remarks, limited as they were, left me hoping for more insights from Bream about his own life and the people in it.

In a similar fashion, I was left wanting to know a bit more about his school days and the more recent periods in his life. Altogether, the main focus is from his early teenage years (the 1950's) up to about 1976. The bonus chapters (and director's commentary) do help here but I still could have used more coverage of his later life and even on his own technique and the challenges of being mainly self-taught.

My last comment is about the chronology itself. The film begins with a movement from Britten's "Nocturnal". Later in the film Bream speaks of recording the work successfully - not at the start of his recording career, but a few years into it. Then we go back in time to hear a bit about the origin of that work. After a few more contemporary scenes we go back again to the work being completed and the film concludes with a stunning performance of the Passacaglia movement from that same work - again this was recorded in 2003 at Breams home (as was the opening performance sequence). This works well dramatically, but not quite as well as a chronology.

All-in-all highly recommended. This is the type of release that should be found in any reasonably sized public library. See if yours will order it for their collection.

Archive Music Clips Listing -

DIONISIO AGUADO - Rondo in A minor Op. 2 (6:10)
HEITOR VILLA-LOBOS - Study No. 11 (7:10)
THOMAS MORLEY - 'Galliard to the Sacred End Pavan' - Julian Bream Consort (1987) (2:13)
WILLIAM WALTON - Bagatelle No. 5 (2:27)
David Carlin | Philadelphia, PA USA | 08/29/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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."