Interview with Bernard Hebb












Professor Bernard HEBB & composer Jovan Pesec

Bernard HEBB

is a long standing member of the International Guitar Festival Rust.
From 9. - 13. April Bernard will give a master course in Rust.

In 2006 he recorded together with Gabriel Guillén a CD "twi.light", guitar duets classic offside

Please listen  to the performance of Bernard Hebb & Gabriel Guillén of Jovan Pesec's  twi.light.



Interview with Professor Bernard Hebb:


Question: Who do you think is the most overrated and the most underrated composer for the classical guitar?


Bernard Hebb: Many compositions for the guitar that are very popular at the moment, are based on effects and are, in many cases, composed by guitarists themselves. They sound very brillant – technique wise – pleasent to listen to, easy to interpret and are well received by the public, but the content of these compositions has little or no deep meaning. Basicaly I have nothing against these compositions as long as they do not constitute a whole repertoire and a recital does not consist of only this type of music.
Masterworks of the 20th century like „Nocturnal“ from Benjamin Britten or „Drei Tentos“ from Hans Werner Henze – just to name two – are not performed as often as they used to be, the reason being that  the musical knowledge and maturity of many guitarists is not sufficient enough. My observations and remarks – based on my experience as a university level professor - are directed at highly talented guitarists and guitar students with an outstanding technique who avoid the musical and interpretatoric confrontations because of the difficulties involved.

Which „Slogan“ would you use in advertising for  the classical guitar?

 Bernard Hebb: I do not know of any slogans that would be of benefit to the guitar. What is often missunderstood by the average person is the title „Classical Guitar“. I would rather have a title - for example -  like Acoustic Guitar with nylon strings“.

With which prejudices – that are connected with the classical guitar – would you like to get rid of?

 Bernard Hebb: There is a certain prejudice connected with the guitar that is still prevalent today and that is, that the guitar is only an accompaniment for the voice. In Germany the so called „Wandervogelzeit“ (that started around 1920 when the guitar was strongly connected to voice with guitar accompaniment) and the time after that, helps to strengthen this prejudice.

Question: Which attributes do you find typical for classical guitarists?

 Bernard Hebb: To talk about the typical attributes of guitarists is not easy without falling into generalizations. From my point of view, there are negative  and positive sides: On the positive side, guitarists have, over the years, developed a very high technical standard, so that many students at the beginning of their studies at a college or university are very well equipt. The negative side is, that the technical aspect of a performance is predominant and the musical and dynamic sides are of secondary importance.

What things in your life do you definitely want to learn and what do you regret not having done?

 Bernard Hebb: From a musical standpoint I have, on the whole, accomplished what I set out to do. On the non musical side I regret not being diligent enough in the area of languages. Privatly, I wished I had had more time.

Question: What dreams do you have that you would like to fulfil?

 Bernard Hebb: Internationaly I would like to give more guitar masterclasses. Eventhough I have done quite a lot of recording over the years (CD, Radio and T.V. productions), it has always been a wish of mine to record seldom or not yet recorded solo compositions like Hans Erich Apostel´s „Sechs Musiken“. At the end of the 1970s I recorded Hans Erich Apostel´s „Sechs Musiken“, „Three Faces“ by Hans Georg Lotz, „Suite for guitar alone“ by Ernst Krenek etc. for Radio Bremen and now I would like to do a new recording of – among others - these compositions for a CD production.

Question: What is embarrassing for you?

 Bernard Hebb: What is embarrassing for one person is not so for the other. So,       embarrassment is a very personal feeling. To be quite honest about it, I remember, for example, a situation which was quite embarrassing for me. In this case the embarrassment resulted from a positive situation  which I was involved in. As my parents moved from a village called Surry, in the state of New Hampshire to the town of Keene, I had to change schools. In the new school (Keene Junior High School), there was a mandatory class in music that everyone had to take. When I first arrived  in the class – George Wilson was the teacher – Mr. Wilson wanted to test my knowledge in solfeggio to see how advanced I was in that area. Eventhough I had never had anything to do with solfeggio before, the results were excelent and Mr. Wilson then used me, to show the other pupils what could be accomplished if they did their homework. Praise can be very difficult to digest if you receive dirty looks from the rest of the class; I was very happy when that class was over.

Question: What short phrase would you use to discribe your lifes philosophy?

 Bernard Hebb: I do not have only one philosophie that describes my life, but my father had many philosophies that were very good. One of them I find particularly good: „Do not let anybody tell you that you are not able to do something until you have proven to yourself that you are not able to do it“.

Which abuse in your native country would you like to do away with?

 Bernard Hebb: The hypocritical use of democracy.

In relation to world history, which personalities fascinate you the most?

 Bernard Hebb: People like Willy Brandt (politician) or Clara Wieck Schumann (pianist and composer), two different personalities who – in spite of the conflicts that they had with themselves or society – managed to contribute to and to change their profession for the betterment of others.

Question: Which question would you like to be asked and what is your answer to this question?

 Bernard Hebb: There is no special question(s) that I would like to be asked. What I like though, are questions that bring out the best of what I have to offer.

Which guitar virtuoso today has the makings to follow in the footsteps of Andres Segovia?

 Bernard Hebb: Nobody. The last guitarist to follow in Segovia´s footsteps was Julian Bream and Julian Bream will be 73 years old on July 15th 2006. Miguel Llobet, Andres Segovia and Julian Bream are the three performer personalities of the 20th century. Do not understand me wrong, we have many guitarists today that are very excelent performers, but none with such a distinct personality in their tone and style as Llobet, Segovia and Bream.  In all instrumental areas, not just the guitar,  there is a lack of individualisum with a strong tendency to comformity. This I find very unfortunate since art (music, theatre or the pictorial arts) is a very individual and personal matter.


Thank you very much Bernard for this interview.

Jovan Pesec

Biography Bernard Hebb 

- Born in the U.S.A.
- Guitar studies under Francis La Pierre, U.S.A. Completed general studies with an emphasis in music at Keene High School; Director of Music, Robert M.Cook.
- Student of Prof. Karl Scheit at the State Academy of Music in Vienna, Austria. Assistant to Prof. Karl Scheit.
- Completed his studies in Vienna and recieved a diploma in guitar (Master¥s Degree) with honors.
- Instructor of guitar at the Hamburger and later the Bremen Conservatory of Music.
- Publisher of a series of music for guitar by Trekel Pub. Co., Germany
- Gold Medal of Honor from the "Federation of the Worker´s Music Association of Austria" (VAMÖ) for workdone in the area of teaching and performing folkmusic.
- Jury member at international festivals.
- Founding member and Artistic Director of the "Zevener Guitar Festival" in Germany.
- Professor of guitar at the Hochschule für Künste Bremen (University of the Arts Bremen), Germany.
- “Pakhus Prize“ (2002) from the Århus Art Academy, Denmark for promoting and establishing the guitar.
- “Silver Medal“ (2005) from the city of Zeven (Germany) for 25 years as founding member and Artistic --  -Director of the Zevener Guitar Week
- Guest Professor at the „Escuela de Música de la Universidad de Guanajuato“, Mexico.

Concerts and Masterclasses

given in Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, Thailand, Venezuela and Yugoslavia and the U.S.A.


Australian Broadcasting Commission (A.B.C.), 3MBS Radio Australia, Radio Bremen, Bulgarian National Radio, Radio France, South German Radio and Educational Radio (U.S.A.).


Educational TV (U.S.A.), Belgrade TV, Culture Television (Venezuela),  Channel 2 (Yugoslavia) and the ARD (Germany).

Records and CD`s

recorded for Labor Records (U.S.A.), Eulenspiegel Verlag, Christophorus Verlag, Cassiopea Records, Ambitus (Germany), Gega New (Bulgaria) and Records V4M (Austria)



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updated: 17. March 2006
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