Stephan Grapelli & Julian Bream Play Django Reinhardt

Nuage St Grapelli & J Bream

This is just wonderful playing here by guitarist Julian Bream and the unmistakable Stephan Grapelli on violin, who should know a little about playing with the author of this song (that would be Django Reinhardt (Nuage).

“Julien Bream is a British classical guitarist and lutenist and is one of the most distinguished classical guitarists of the 20th century. He has also been successful in renewing popular interest in the lute.

Bream was born in London and brought up in a musical environment. His father played jazz guitar and the young Bream was impressed by hearing the playing of Django Reinhardt.

Bream began his lifelong association with the guitar by strumming along on a small gut-string Spanish guitar at a very young age to dance music on the radio. The president of the Philharmonic Society of Guitars, Dr Boris Perott, gave Bream lessons, while Bream’s father became the society librarian, giving Bream access to a large collection of rare music.

On his 11th birthday, Bream was given a guitar by his father. He became something of a child prodigy, at 12 winning a junior exhibition award for his piano playing, enabling him to study piano and cello at the Royal College of Music. He made his debut guitar recital atCheltenham in 1947, aged 13.

He left the Royal College of Music in 1952 and was called up into the army for national service. He was originally drafted into the Pay Corps, but managed to sign up for the Royal Artillery Band after six months. This required him to be stationed in Woolwich, which allowed him to moonlight regularly with the guitar in London.

After three and a half years in the army, he took any musical jobs that came his way, including background music for radio plays and films. Commercial film, recording session and work for the BBC were important to Bream throughout the 1950s and the early ’60s.

In the years after national service, Bream pursued a busy career playing around the world, including annual tours in the U.S. and Europe for several years. He played part of a recital at the Wigmore Hall on the lute in 1952 and since has done much to bring music written for the instrument to light. see more

Here’s a quick Stephan Grapelli story that I think you will enjoy.

About a month (maybe two) before his passing, Vassar Clements got me in the car with him and said “We’re going to see Grapelli play.”  He was performing at some theater in Nashville (can’t remember where).

Grapelli and Vassar did a recording together called “Together At Last,” so they were very good friends from those sessions.

We walked into the back room where Stephan and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli were. Stephan looked awful, didn’t look well at all in the wheelchair and certainly didn’t look like he would be capable of performing!

So after we talked for about 45 minutes, it was show time …Vassar and I walked to the back of the auditorium…. not so hopeful and saddened at his health.

They wheeled Stephan out, and they had to help him out of the chair to the piano seat to which he was going to play a few songs.

The audience was so quiet, as if to expect that something bad was going to happen.

It took a while for Stephan to get situated…. and with that came

a resounding pounding of the keys! Joyous magnificent  piano, as if it were being played by an 18 year old.

After the first song, the applause was so loud and so long, Vassar leaned over and whispered to me “They better stop and let him play more before something happens.”

That was classic Vassar comedy for sure.

He went on for sure, and when Bucky came out … Stephan picked up the violin and that’s when more magic began to happen. Vassar just kept shaking his head saying.. “Don’t that just beat all you’ve ever seen,”

Anyone there had to have known that we were witnessing greatness.





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