Martin Breese. The passing of one of magic’s finest gentlemen.
One of the phrases you hear bandied about in a jocular manner by people is, “You are a gentleman and a scholar.” It usually means nothing when it is said and often has that slight put down/ironic tone that magicians love to use with one another. Well, let me say it loud and clear, Martin Breese WAS a scholar and a gentleman. He was special.
Martin’s vision, love and passion for magic was never more than an inch from the surface of this remarkable man. He always credited Goodliffe with his early steps into the act of becoming one of the great presences in the magic world. Indeed his relationship with Goodliffe is a wonderful story that Martin has told in part in the fascinating newsletters that he shared with the fraternity. I hope the full story of Martin Breese will be shared one day.
To many people, their first real ‘wake-up’ call to this amazing man was the release of his series of Magicassettes, soon after his return to England from South Africa in the 1970s. They allowed magicians to be heard in their own voices as they shared insights that would otherwise have been lost. I treasure my copies of the series of cassettes he created. They are a living link in our magical heritage and go beyond the tricks and right to the heart of the performers.
Martin was also a publisher of many books that hold a special place in my heart. His loving dedication to improving and adding to our heritage was evident in each and every project. His recent work in updating and completing the world’s knowledge of the works of the great Al Koran, stands almost unique in the loving care and detail he poured into it. It was awesome to watch his dedication to this massive project
Breese loved magic with a passion and it showed in every aspect of his life. However, there was much more to Martin’s world than just magic. He was a world-class photographer, and brought his visual skills to everything he did. I remember standing in his home in Brighton and being swept away with the all to seldom awareness that it was the home of a true aesthete who combined taste and practicality into his surroundings in a very special way.
On the wall above the staircase was a ‘Banksy’ picture, in his library were first editions of great books. Martin was a person who recognized quality and greatness in any form it was demonstrated, hardly surprising as he embodied both qualities. He was an artist, a visionary and a businessman who allowed each quality to feed from the other and enrich the person he was.
On a personal level, I personally am all too aware of his kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. Not just with things but with his powerful and vital energy. Even as he was ferociously and bravely battling for his life in his final weeks, he never stopped communicating with me, helping me become a better writer and magician. He really cared, in a world where most peoples caring centers around themselves. Martin cared about ideas, standards and other people, knowing that Martin was reading and analyzing what I wrote and did made me strive harder to accomplish more.
The passing of Martin Breese has robbed the magic world of one of its greatest characters and benefactors. He is one of the great men I have been blessed to know in this business. My sympathy, love and blessings go out to his lovely wife Pang, his family and all those others like myself who have been robbed of someone this special.
I am heartbroken at this loss.