Andrew Lloyd Webber (born March 22, 1948) is a British composer and impresario of musical theatre, born in Kensington, London, the elder son of William Southcombe Lloyd Webber (1914–1982), a composer and organist who was the director of the London College of Music, and Jean Hermione (née Johnstone; 1921–1993), a violinist and pianist. His younger brother, Julian Lloyd Webber, is a renowned solo cellist. A true prodigy, early in life Lloyd Webber played the piano, the violin (at age 3) and the French horn, and started writing his own music at the young age of six, composing a suite of six pieces at the age of nine. He also put on “productions” with Julian and his Aunt Viola in his toy theatre, which he built at Viola’s suggestion. Later, he would be the owner of a number of West End theatres, including the Palace. His aunt Viola, an actress, took him to see many of her shows and through the stage door into the world of the theatre. He also had originally set music to Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats at the age of 15. In 1965, Lloyd Webber was a Queen’s Scholar at Westminster School and studied history for a term at Magdalen College, Oxford, although he abandoned the course in Winter 1965 to study at the Royal College of Music and pursue his interest in musical theatre.
Lloyd Webber’s first collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice was The Likes of Us, a musical based on the true story of Thomas John Barnardo. Although composed in 1965, it was not publicly performed until 2005, when a production was staged at Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton Festival. Stylistically, The Likes of Us is fashioned after the Broadway musical of the ’40s and ’50s; it opens with a traditional overture comprising a medley of tunes from the show, and the score reflects some of Lloyd Webber’s early influences, particularly Richard Rodgers, Frederick Loewe, and Lionel Bart. In this respect, it is markedly different from the composer’s later work, which tends to be either predominantly or wholly through-composed, and closer in form to opera than to the Broadway musical.
In 1968, Rice and Lloyd Webber were commissioned to write a piece for the Colet Court preparatory school, which resulted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a retelling of the biblical story of Joseph in which Lloyd Webber and Rice humorously pastiched a number of musical styles such as Elvis-style rock’n’roll, Calypso, and country music. Joseph began life as a short cantata that gained some recognition on its second staging with a favorable review in The Times. For its subsequent performances, Rice and Lloyd Webber revised the show and added new songs to expand it to a more substantial length. This culminated in a two-hour long production being staged in the West End on the back of the success of Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1969 Rice and Lloyd Webber wrote a song for the Eurovision Song Contest called “Try It and See,” which was not selected. With rewritten lyrics it became “King Herod’s Song” in their third musical, Jesus Christ Superstar (1970).
The planned follow-up to Jesus Christ Superstar was a musical comedy based on the Jeeves and Wooster novels by P. G. Wodehouse. Tim Rice was uncertain about this venture, partly because of his concern that he might not be able to do justice to the novels that he and Lloyd Webber so admired. After doing some initial work on the lyrics, he pulled out of the project and Lloyd Webber subsequently wrote the musical with Alan Ayckbourn, who provided the book and lyrics. Lloyd Weber married Sarah Hugill on July 24,1972, but they divorced on November 14, 1983. Lloyd Webber collaborated with Rice once again to write Evita (1978 in London/1979 in U.S.), a musical based on the life of Eva Perón. In 1978, Lloyd Webber embarked on a solo project, the “Variations”, with his cellist brother Julian based on the 24th Caprice by Paganini.
Lloyd Webber embarked on his next project without a lyricist, turning instead to the poetry of T. S. Eliot. Cats (1981) was to become the longest running musical in London, where it ran for 21 years before closing. On Broadway, Cats ran for eighteen years, a record which would ultimately be broken by another Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera. Starlight Express (1984) was a commercial hit, Lloyd Webber wrote a Requiem Mass dedicated to his father, William, who had died in 1982. It premiered at St. Thomas Church in New York on February 24, 1985. Lloyd Webber received a Grammy Award in 1986 for Requiem in the category of best classical composition. Pie Jesu from Requiem achieved a high placing on the UK pop charts.
Cricket (1986), also called Cricket (Hearts and Wickets), reunited Lloyd Webber with Tim Rice to create this short musical for Queen Elizabeth’s 60th birthday, first performed at Windsor Castle. Several of the tunes were later used for Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard. Lloyd Webber also premiered The Phantom of the Opera in 1986, inspired by the 1911 Gaston Leroux novel. He wrote the part of Christine for his then-wife, Sarah Brightman, whom he had married on March 22, 1984, and who played the role in the original London and Broadway productions alongside Michael Crawford as the Phantom. Charles Hart wrote the lyrics for Phantom with some additional material provided by Richard Stilgoe, with whom Lloyd-Webber co-wrote the book of the musical. Aspects of Love followed in 1989, a musical based on the story by David Garnett. The lyrics were by Don Black and Charles Hart and the original production was directed by Trevor Nunn. Aspects had a run of four years in London, but closed after less than a year on Broadway.
Lloyd Weber and Brightman divorced in 1990, and he married Madeleine Gurdon in Westminster on February 9, 1991. Lloyd Webber was knighted by Elizabeth II in 1992. Lloyd Webber was asked to write a song for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and composed “Amigos Para Siempre — Friends for Life” with Don Black providing the lyrics. This song was performed by Sarah Brightman and José Carreras. Lloyd Webber had toyed with the idea of writing a musical based on Billy Wilder’s critically acclaimed movie, Sunset Boulevard, since the early 1970s when he saw the film, but the project didn’t come to fruition until after the completion of Aspects of Love when the composer finally managed to secure the rights from Paramount Pictures. The composer worked with two collaborators, as he had done on Aspects of Love; this time Christopher Hampton and Don Black shared equal credit for the book and lyrics. In 1994, Sunset Boulevard became a successful Broadway show, opening with the largest advance in Broadway history, and winning seven Tony Awards that year.
In 1998, Lloyd Webber released a film version of “Cats”, which was filmed at the Adelphi Theatre in London. In 1998 Whistle Down the Wind made its debut, a musical written with lyrics supplied by rock legend Jim Steinman. In 1999, Lloyd Webber and Mike Batt provided the main soundtrack for Watership Down, the animated series adaptation of Richard Adams’ novel of the same name. His The Beautiful Game opened in London in 2000 but has never been seen on Broadway. The show has been re-worked into a new musical, The Boys in the Photograph, which had its world première at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts in April 2008. Lloyd Webber produced Bombay Dreams with Indian composer A. R. Rahman in 2002. On September 16, 2004, his production of The Woman in White opened at the Palace Theatre in London. In September 2006, Lloyd Webber was named to be a recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors with Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Steven Spielberg, and Smokey Robinson.
Lloyd Webber accepted the challenge of managing the UK’s entry for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, to be held in Moscow. In early 2009 a series, called Eurovision: Your Country Needs You, was broadcast to find a performer for a song that he would compose for the competition. Jade Ewen won the right to represent Britain, winning with It’s My Time, by Lloyd Webber and Diane Warren. On October 8, 2009, Lloyd Webber launched the musical Love Never Dies, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. His awards include seven Tonys, three Grammys including Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Requiem, seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, two International Emmys, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and the Kennedy Center Honor. His company, the Really Useful Group, is one of the largest theatre operators in London. Lloyd Webber is also the president of the Arts Educational Schools London, a prestigious performing arts school located in Chiswick, West London.
My collection contains the following works by Andrew Lloyd Weber:
Cats (1981): Magical Mr. Mistoffelees; and Memory.
Evita (1976): Another Suitcase in Another Hall; Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.
Jesus Christ Superstar (1971): I Don’t Know How to Love Him; Superstar.
The Phantom of the Opera (1986): All I Ask of You; The Music of the Night; Phantom of the Opera (title song).
Requiem (1984): Pie Jesu.
Song and Dance (1982): Variations 1-4 (1978).
Starlight Express (1984): Starlight Express (title song).
Tell Me on a Sunday (1979): Take That Look off Your Face; Tell Me on a Sunday (title song).
—material selected, adapted, and edited from several different sources