Acclaimed by critics worldwide and recognised as one of the world’s finest solo clarinettists, Julian Bliss explores the creative scope and remarkable versatility of his instrument. He has achieved distinction as concerto soloist, chamber musician, jazz artist, masterclass leader, eloquent public speaker and tireless musical explorer, introducing many young listeners to new and rarely performed works for clarinet and connecting directly with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Reviewers have consistently praised the expressive insights and tonal beauty of his music-making, evident in everything from Mozart and avant-garde commissions to the works of Benny Goodman and Bernard Herrmann.
Julian Bliss was born in St Albans, Hertfordshire (UK) in 1989. He began playing clarinet at the age of four with an instrument specially designed for young children. He made his first television appearance the following year and, at the age of six, was invited to play at Buckingham Palace for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Julian became a pupil at the Purcell School in London in 1997; three years later he moved to the United States to study at Indiana University and gained the institution’s Postgraduate Artist’s Diploma at the age of 12. He returned to Buckingham Palace on the eve of his 13th birthday to perform the Golden Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II, reaching a huge global television audience in over 70 countries.
Julian began with the first in an intensive series of lessons with Sabine Meyer in 2002. He spent his early teens commuting between St Albans and his teacher’s home in Lübeck, Germany. His rapid rise as a professional performer, propelled in 2003 by the best-selling success of his first recording for EMI Classics’ Debut series, caught the imaginations of critics and public alike. Teacher and pupil joined forces in 2006 to record Franz Krommer’s concertos for two clarinets and orchestra for EMI Classics; they have since collaborated many times as chamber music partners. Milestones in Julian’s early career include recitals and chamber music performances at the prestigious Gstaad, Mecklenburgh, Rheingau and Verbier festivals, and critically acclaimed debuts at London’s Wigmore Hall and New York’s Lincoln Center.
In recent years Julian has explored the clarinet’s rich chamber music repertoire in company with, among others, Elena Bashkirova, Joshua Bell, Hélène Grimaud, Steven Isserlis, Steven Kovacevich, Misha Maisky, Julian Rachlin and Simon Trpčeski. He has also developed a flourishing duo partnership with New York-based pianist Bradley Moore. Their first recording together, an album of Julian’s arrangements of Prokofiev’s Flute Sonata and Glinka’s Viola Sonata, will be released on Signum Classics in June 2014; meanwhile, they will mark the 150th anniversary of Richard Strauss’s birth in 2014 with performances of Julian’s arrangement of the composer’s Violin Sonata. Julian has recently established a chamber music partnership with the soprano Ailish Tynan and pianist Christopher Glynn. Their debut disc, complete with works by Schubert and Schumann will be released in the autumn of 2014.
Julian founded the Julian Bliss Septet with a mission to explore jazz. The group was invited to launch Wigmore Hall’s Lates @36 series and appeared at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London in June 2012. Their debut album for Signum, Benny Goodman –The King of Swing, was released in 2013.
Julian’s concerto credits include performances with many of the world’s leading orchestras, from the London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra to the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and NHK Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo. In May 2014 he recorded the clarinet concertos by Mozart and Nielsen with the Royal Northern Sinfonia for release on Signum Classics in September 2014. He returns to both works during the 2014/15 season, performing Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Fundação Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto with the Orchestre Chambre de Paris. Future plans include the world premiere of a specially commissioned concerto for clarinet and orchestra by jazz legend Wayne Shorter, the creation of a new chamber ensemble, and the development of a pioneering collaboration with jazz pianist and composer Julian Joseph, cellist Matthew Barley and accordionist Miloš Milivojević.
Julian Bliss is passionate about music education, a commitment reflected in his position as Patron of the Mayor of London’s Fund for Young Musicians and extensive appearances as guest lecturer in schools and colleges across the United States. His influence on the next generation of performers also radiates from his work with musical instrument manufacturers Conn-Selmer, a relationship which led to the design and worldwide launch of the Leblanc Bliss range of affordable clarinets. Over 30,000 Bliss instruments have been sold since 2009, endorsed by praise from teachers and students and admired for their richness of tone. He continues to work on the development of new clarinets for Conn-Selmer and demonstrate Bliss instruments in lectures and workshop sessions. His contributions to the music profession were recognised when he was appointed as an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London.