Last night I watched guitarist Julian Bream‘s DVD My Life in Music. Bream established the guitar in concerthalls and brought back the Renaissance lute. He played jazz and jammed with Ali Akbar Khan in India. He also talks about the big change that came with Augustine’s invention of nylon strings during WW2.
From the Wikipedia entry on Classical Guitar Strings:
Up until the Second World War animal gut and silk were the materials from which guitar strings were manufactured. Albert Augustine, an instrument maker from New York, USA, was the first to produce guitar strings in Nylon. According to Rose Augustine, his wife, he was unable to secure source materials due to the war restrictions and happened upon nylon line in an army surplus store in Greenwich Village. When initially approached by him the DuPont company, who manufactured the material, were unconvinced that guitarists would accept nylon’s sonic characteristics. Augustine staged a blind test with company representatives from DuPont, they happened to choose nylon over gut as having the best “guitar sound”. The DuPont company then supported Augustine’s initiative. When Andrés Segovia, the great Spanish guitar virtuoso, discovered Augustine’s strings he was an immediate convert.
Julian Bream was an example for me 25 years ago while I’m practising the “Prelude in D Minor” written by Johann Sebastian Bach. I still like his interpretation (recorded 1965 – I was a toddler).
A short time ago I listened to some Bach pieces played by Bream because the next year 2008 will be a “year of Bach” in Leipzig.