Originally taught by his father, Julian Bream (b. 1933) made his debut with the Cheltham Guitar Circle at the age of 14. By the age of 16, already a seasoned recitalist, he entered the Royal College of Music. He made his London debut in 1950, but it was his appearance in November of 1951 at Wigmore Hall that propelled his career to international success. This led him first to Switzerland in 1954, followed by a European tour, and in 1958, the United States.
In 1950, Bream took up the Renaissance lute, and began a life-long fascination with Elizabethan music. His work with the tenor Peter Pears, and especially his formation of the Julian Bream Consort began a revival of early consort music that has continued to the present day. In addition, his work with such contemporary composers Villa-Lobos, Britten, Bennet, Rawsthorne, Walton, Henze, Takemitsu, Tippett, and Arnold led to a revival of interest in guitar music.
Bream has recorded extensively, receiving numerous awards along the way including six from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and a platinum disk from RCA. He has also produced a number of televised programs, including master classes, an eight-part retrospective on Spanish music, and a biography entitled A Life in the Country, first broadcast in 1976 by the BBC.
Among his many other awards are honorary doctorates from the Universities of Surrey and Leeds, an honorary membership in the Royal Academy of Music, an honorary fellowship in the Royal College of Music, and an honorary membership in the Royal Philharmonic Society. Julian Bream was the first musician of the post-war era to popularize classical guitar. His wide ranging interests in repertory, his impeccable technique and style, his instrumental role in the revival of Renaissance music, and his extensive recorded legacy place him as one of the giants of twentieth century guitar music.