RIP, Julian Bream

“Very sorry to hear of the death of my first guitar teacher, the legendary Julian Bream. As a 13 year old, I was reduced to tears at my first meeting with him. He had asked me how well I wanted to play and, as I had no answer, he said “Would you like to be able to play it like this?” RIP, Julian, you have left a fine legacy.” – Andy Irvine

We are very sad to report that Julian Bream CBE (b. 1933), English classical guitarist and lutenist, died peacefully at home today, 14 August 2020. Julian had a distinguished and internationally renowned performing career, working with some of the 20th century’s most important musicians and composers. His catalogues of recordings for RCA and EMI Classics sit alongside his many BBC radio and TV appearances. His performing life is documented in the DVD ‘Julian Bream: My life in Music’, a compelling insight into this virtuosic and highly expressive musician during interesting times, and a piece of film of which he was very proud.

Julian entered the Royal College of Music in 1948, aged fifteen as a pianist and composer. He made his professional debut playing the guitar at the age of thirteen. He reclaimed the lute from historical obscurity in the 1960’s forming the Julian Bream Consort. He did more than anyone to place the classical guitar at the forefront of the professional classical music world, commissioning and performing the works of composers including Lennox and Michael Berkeley, Tom Eastwood, Giles Swayne, Alan Rawsthorne, Malcolm ArnoldRichard Rodney BennettBenjamin BrittenLeo BrouwerPeter Racine FrickerHans Werner HenzeHumphrey SearleToru TakemitsuMichael TippettWilliam Walton and Peter Maxwell Davies. He gave his last recital in 2002.

In 2008 Julian set up the The Julian Bream Trust to provide financial assistance for the less well-off, young and gifted music students and to continue the important work of commissioning new compositions for the guitar, namely Harrison Birtwistle, Leo Brouwer, Julian Anderson, and Olli Mustonen.

Benjamin Britten’s ‘Nocturnal’ is arguably one of the most famous pieces in the classical guitar repertoire and was written with Julian specifically in mind. This set of variations on John Dowland‘s ‘Come, Heavy Sleep’ was never more moving than in the hands of this most natural of musicians. A fitting way to remember Julian at this sad time.

Photo: Eamonn McCabe


Julian Bream CBE. RIP.


“From the outback of Australia, it is with great sadness that I write these lines on the death of Arty McGlynn…”

"From the outback of Australia, it is with great sadness that I write these lines on the death of Arty McGlynn, a great friend and a guitarist of magical proportions.
I first met Arty at a sound check in the Baggot Inn in about 1977 or 78, where Paul Brady and myself were playing once a month. He was very shy in those days and a little later, to hear him play guitar and pedal steel with such ability was a surprise.
Later again, in the Spring of 1982, Nollaig Casey, Arty and me rehearsed for a tour in Italy. My music was very complicated at that time and I was thrilled to find that Arty was well up for it.
I think we did a couple of tours in Europe and played in Ireland that year also. I have some recordings that I must dig out when I get home.
In March 1983, Dónal and Christy had left Planxty to concentrate on the success of Moving Hearts. Liam and I were determined to continue the band and the not very well remembered Planxty of 1983 was formed and rehearsed in Bill Whelan’s house in Dublin.
Arty, James Kelly and Dolores Keane joined Bill, Liam and myself and we did a tour of UK and then a tour of Ireland. That was the extent of it for some reason. The band quietly disappeared from view!
Arty was a part of Patrick Street in the late eighties and we toured USA and Canada every year with some success.
Kevin Burke, Jackie Daly and later John Carty all loved playing with Arty. He was definitely the number one accompanist of most traditional musicians.
My deepest condolences to his wife, Nollaig, their daughters and Arty’s sons."

Omagh-born Van Morrison guitarist Arty McGlynn passes away

Arty McGlynn and wife Nollaig Casey
Arty McGlynn and wife Nollaig Casey

Pioneering Omagh guitarist Arty McGlynn has passed away at the age of 75.

During a long career he became well-known for his original guitar work and collaborating with artists like Van Morrison, Enya, Planxty, Four Men and a Dog and wife, fiddle player Nollaig Casey.

McGlynn played guitar on Van’s critically acclaimed and commercially successful 1989 album ‘Avalon Sunset’.

He also played on 1983’s ‘Inarticulate Speech of the Heart’ and 1995’s ‘Days Like This’.

McGlynn was born into a musical family in Omagh in 1944 and quickly became involved in performing.

After initially learning the accordion he was gifted a guitar by his mother at the age of eleven.

He was playing professionally with bands by his mid teens and eventually went on the road touring with various musicians in the 1960s and 70s.

McGlynn was also in demand as a session musician for recordings with various artists.

His 1979 album ‘McGlynn’s Fancy’ is widely credited with bringing the guitar into the mainstream of Irish traditional music.

It led to greater prominence on the Irish musical scene and McGlynn became in-demand among traditional and folk musicians.

Arty McGlynn
Arty McGlynn

He also worked with names like Christy Moore, Frances Black, Paul Brady and John Carty.

McGlynn’s collaboration with wife Nollaig led to two well-received albums ‘Lead the Knave’ and ‘Causeway’ and their music was featured on the soundtracks for films ‘Moondance’ and ‘Hear My Song’.

In the wake of the 1998 Omagh bombing McGlynn was one of a number of local artists to perform at a concert to raise funds for the victims.

He was awarded a lifetime achievement awarded for his contributions to music by Irish language channel TG4 in 2016.

McGlynn is survived by wife Nollaig, two daughters and three sons.

source: Belfast Telegraph Digital

Sad News: Uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn dies

Liam O’Flynn was born to a musical family in Kildare in 1945
The uilleann piper Liam Óg O’Flynn has died. He had been ill for some time.He was well known as a member of the traditional group Planxty with Christy Moore, Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny.O’Flynn also played on a number of best-selling discs, including the Brendan Voyage and Grainne Mhaol.

He was regarded as a master piper and a global ambassador for traditional Irish music.

O’Flynn was born in Kildare in 1945 to a musical family.

He gravitated towards the uilleann pipes and by 11 he was taking classes with the renowned Leo Rowsome.

He formed Planxty alongside Moore, Lunny and Irvine and they became an influential and innovative group.

They toured extensively and O’Flynn was able to bring his skill with the uilleann pipes to a worldwide audience.

Planxty broke up in the mid 1980s, but O’Flynn’s career continued to flourish playing with several famous musicians, including Kate Bush, Emmy Lou Harris and Mark Knopfler.

He also worked with composer Shaun Davey on the Brendan Voyage.

His expertise was extensive and he worked with orchestras, on film soundtracks and with poet Seamus Heaney.

The Arts Council has expressed its regret at the passing of O’Flynn.

Chair of the Arts Council Sheila Pratschke said: “Liam O’Flynn has left behind him an incredible legacy of music through his recordings, his careful support of other musicians and artists and his dedication to transmission of the great heritage of Irish music to future generations.”

Ms Pratchske said he had a huge influence on the artistic life of Ireland and was well known for his artistic collaborations with artists from other traditions and practices.

Arts and Media Correspondent


Andy pays tribute to Des Kelly

Well-known showband star Des Kelly has passed away after battling illness for the last number of years.

The Turloughmore native is best known as a founding member of the Capitol Showband but also worked as a music promoter and manager.
Tributes from across the Irish music industry are pouring in this morning for Des, described as a music visionary and a gentleman.
Prior to his illness Des Kelly worked as a music presenter on Galway Bay fm for twenty years, joining the radio station when it opened in 1989.
His warm style of presenting and knowledge of music won him many listeners.

Andy had this to say about the good man:


Fellow folkie Mick Hanly added his fond memories of Des to Andy’s post:


Read more on the life of Des Kelly here: CELEBRATING DES KELLY