WEBBER Andrew
Person
WEBBER Andrew

WEBBER
Andrew

English composer

Date of Birth: 22 March 1948

Age: 76 years old

Zodiac sign: Aries

Profession: Composer

Content

Biography

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Baron Lloyd-Webber is an English composer and impresario of musical theatre. Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway. He has composed 21 musicals, a song cycle, a set of variations, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass. Several of his songs have been widely recorded and were successful outside of their parent musicals, such as "Memory" from Cats, "The Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" from Evita, and "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. In 2001, The New York Times referred him as "the most commercially successful composer in history". The Daily Telegraph ranked him the "fifth most powerful person in British culture" in 2008, lyricist Don Black writing "Andrew more or less single-handedly reinvented the musical."

He has received a number of awards, including a knighthood in 1992, followed by a peerage for services to the arts, six Tonys, three Grammys (as well as the Grammy Legend Award), an Academy Award, 14 Ivor Novello Awards, seven Olivier Awards, a Golden Globe, a Brit Award, the 2006 Kennedy Center Honors, the 2008 Classic Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music, and an Emmy Award. He is one of 16 people to have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, is an inductee into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, and is a fellow of the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers, and Authors.

His company, the Really Useful Group, is one of the largest theatre operators in London. Producers in several parts of the UK have staged productions, including national tours, of the Lloyd Webber musicals under licence from the Really Useful Group. Lloyd Webber is also the president of the Arts Educational Schools, London, a performing arts school located in Chiswick, West London. He is involved in a number of charitable activities, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Nordoff Robbins, Prostate Cancer UK and War Child. In 1992, he started the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation which supports the arts, culture, and heritage of the UK.

Early life

Andrew Lloyd Webber was born in Kensington, London, the elder son of William Lloyd Webber (1914–1982), a composer and organist, and Jean Hermione Johnstone (1921–1993), a violinist and pianist. His younger brother, Julian Lloyd Webber, is a world-renowned solo cellist.

Lloyd Webber started writing his own music at a young age: 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). His aunt Viola, an actress, took him to see many of her shows and through the stage door into the world of the theatre. His father enrolled him as a part-time student at the Eric Gilder School of Music in the spring of 1963. At this time he was working on a Genghis Khan musical called Westonia!, and he had also set music to Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats.

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 the winter of 1965 to study at the Royal College of Music and pursue his interest in musical theatre.

Professional career

Early years

In 1965, when Lloyd Webber was a 17-year-old budding musical-theatre composer, he was introduced to the 20-year-old aspiring pop-song writer Tim Rice. Their first collaboration was The Likes of Us, a musical based on the true story of Thomas John Barnardo. They produced a demo tape of that work in 1966, but the project failed to gain a backer.

Although composed in 1965, The Likes of Us was not publicly performed until 2005, when a production was staged at Lloyd Webber's Sydmonton Festival. In 2008, amateur rights were released by the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) in association with the Really Useful Group. The first amateur performance was by a children's theatre group in Cornwall called "Kidz R Us". Stylistically, The Likes of Us is fashioned after the Broadway musical of the 1940s and 1950s; 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.

In the summer of 1967, Alan Doggett, a family friend of the Lloyd Webbers who had assisted on The Likes of Us and who was the music teacher at the Colet Court school in London, commissioned Lloyd Webber and Rice to write a piece for the school's choir.Doggett requested a "pop cantata" along the lines of Herbert Chappell's The Daniel Jazz (1963) and Michael Hurd's Jonah-Man Jazz (1966), both of which had been published by Novello and were based on the Old Testament. The request for the new piece came with a 100-guinea advance from Novello. This 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 pop-music 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 favourable 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. Continued expansion eventually culminated in a 1972 stage musical and then a two-hour-long production being staged in the West End in 1973 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). Debuting on Broadway in 1971, by 1980 the musical had grossed more than $237 million worldwide. Running for over eight years in London between 1972 and 1980, it held the record for longest-running West End musical before it was overtaken by Cats in 1989. 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. Rice backed out of the project and Lloyd Webber subsequently wrote the musical Jeeves with Alan Ayckbourn, who provided the book and lyrics. Jeeves failed to make any impact at the box office and closed after a run of only 38 performances in the West End in 1975. Many years later, Lloyd Webber and Ayckbourn revisited this project, producing a thoroughly reworked and more successful version entitled By Jeeves (1996).

1980s

Lloyd Webber was the subject of This Is Your Life in November 1980 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in the foyer of Thames Television's Euston Road Studios in London. He would be honoured a second time by the television programme in November 1994 when Michael Aspel surprised him at the West End's Adelphi Theatre.

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 18 years, a record which would ultimately be broken by another Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera. Elaine Paige collaborated again with Lloyd Webber, originating the role of Grizabella in Cats, and had a Top 10 UK hit with "Memory".

Starlight Express (1984) was a commercial hit, but received negative reviews from the critics. It ran for 7,409 performances in London, making it the ninth longest-running West End show. It ran for less than two years on Broadway. The show has also seen two tours of the US, as well as an Australian/Japanese production, a three-year UK touring production, which transferred to New Zealand later in 2009. The show also runs full-time in a custom-built theatre in Bochum, Germany, where it has been running since 1988.

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 24 February 1985. Church music had been a part of the composer's upbringing and the composition was inspired by an article he had read about the plight of Cambodian orphans. Lloyd Webber had on a number of occasions written sacred music for the annual Sydmonton Festival. 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 singles chart. Perhaps because of its large orchestration, live performances of the Requiem are rare.

In 1986, Prince Edward, the youngest son of Queen Elizabeth II, commissioned a short musical from Lloyd Webber and Rice for his mother's 60th birthday celebration. Cricket (1986), also called Cricket (Hearts and Wickets), reunited Lloyd Webber with Rice to create this short musical for the Queen's birthday, first performed at Windsor Castle. Several of the tunes were later used for Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard.

Lloyd Webber premiered The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre in the West End in 1986, inspired by the 1911 Gaston Leroux novel. He wrote the part of Christine for his then-wife, Sarah Brightman, who played the role in the original London and Broadway productions alongside Michael Crawford as the Phantom. The production was directed by Harold Prince, who had also earlier directed Evita. 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. It became a hit and is still running in both the West End and on Broadway; in January 2006 it overtook Lloyd Webber's Cats as the longest running show on Broadway. On 11 February 2012, Phantom of the Opera played its 10,000th show on Broadway. With over 13,400 London productions it is the second longest-running West End 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. It has since gone on a tour of the UK. It is famous for the song "Love Changes Everything", which was performed by Michael Ball in both the West End and Broadway casts. It stayed in the UK singles chart for 14 weeks, peaking at number 2 and becoming Ball's signature tune.

1990s

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. Sunset Boulevard opened at the Adelphi Theatre in London on 12 July 1993, and ran for 1,529 performances. In spite of the show's popularity and extensive run in London's West End, it lost money due to the sheer expense of the production.

In 1994, Sunset Boulevard became a successful Broadway show, opening with the largest advance in Broadway history, and winning seven Tony Awards that year. Even so, by its closing in 1997, "it had not recouped its reported $13 million investment." From 1995 to 2000, Lloyd Webber wrote the Matters of Taste column in The Daily Telegraph where he reviewed restaurants and hotels, and these were illustrated by Lucinda Rogers.

In 1998, Lloyd Webber released a film version of Cats, which was filmed at the Adelphi Theatre in London. David Mallet directed the film, and Gillian Lynne choreographed it. The cast consisted of performers who had been in the show before, including Ken Page (the original Old Deuteronomy on Broadway), Elaine Paige (original Grizabella in London) and John Mills as Gus: the Theatre Cat.

In 1998, Whistle Down the Wind made its debut, a musical written with lyrics supplied by Jim Steinman. Originally opening in Washington, Lloyd Webber was reportedly not happy with the casting or Harold Prince's production and the show was subsequently revised for a London staging directed by Gale Edwards. The production included the Boyzone number-one hit "No Matter What", which remained at the top of the UK charts for three weeks. His The Beautiful Game opened in London and has never been seen on Broadway. The show had a respectable run at The Cambridge Theatre in London. 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.

2000s

Having achieved great popular success in musical theatre, Lloyd Webber was referred to by The New York Times in 2001 as "the most commercially successful composer in history". In 2002 he turned producer, bringing the musical Bombay Dreams to London. With music by Indian Music composer A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Don Black, it ran for two years at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. A revised Broadway production at the Broadway Theatre two years later ran for only 284 performances.

On 16 September 2004, his production of The Woman in White opened at the Palace Theatre in London. It ran for 19 months and 500 performances. A revised production opened on Broadway at the Marquis Theatre on 17 November 2005. Garnering mixed reviews from critics, due in part to the frequent absences of the show's star Maria Friedman due to breast cancer treatment, it closed only a brief three months later on 19 February 2006.

Lloyd Webber produced a staging of The Sound of Music, which débuted November 2006. He made the controversial decision to choose an unknown to play leading lady Maria, who was found through the BBC's reality television show How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria?, in which he was a judge. The winner of the show was Connie Fisher.

A 2006 project, The Master and Margarita, was abandoned in 2007. In September 2006, Lloyd Webber was named a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors with Zubin Mehta, Dolly Parton, Steven Spielberg, and Smokey Robinson. He was recognised for his outstanding contribution to American performing arts. He attended the ceremony on 3 December 2006; it aired on 26 December 2006. On 11 February 2007, Lloyd Webber was featured as a guest judge on the reality television show Grease: You're the One that I Want!. The contestants all sang "The Phantom of the Opera".

Between April and June 2007, he appeared in BBC One's Any Dream Will Do!, which followed the same format as How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. Its aim was to find a new Joseph for his revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Lee Mead won the contest after quitting his part in the ensemble – and as understudy in The Phantom of the Opera – to compete for the role. Viewers' telephone voting during the series raised more than £500,000 for the BBC's annual Children in Need charity appeal, according to host Graham Norton on air during the final.

In 2007, Lloyd Webber's cat, Otto, leaped onto his Clavinova piano and "destroyed the entire score for the new 'Phantom' in one fell swoop". The Phantom in question was The Phantom of Manhattan, a planned sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.

On 1 July 2007, Lloyd Webber presented excerpts from his musicals as part of the Concert for Diana held at Wembley Stadium, London, an event organised to celebrate the life of Princess Diana almost 10 years after her death. BBC Radio 2 broadcast a concert of music from the Lloyd Webber musicals on 24 August 2007. Denise Van Outen introduced songs from Whistle Down the Wind, The Beautiful Game, Tell Me on a Sunday, The Woman in White, Evita and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – as well as Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music, which Lloyd Webber revived in 2006 at the London Palladium, and the 2002 musical Bombay Dreams.

In April 2008, Lloyd Webber reprised his role as judge, this time in the BBC musical talent show I'd Do Anything. The show followed a similar format to its Maria and Joseph predecessors, this time involving a search for an actress to play the role of Nancy in a West End production of Lionel Bart's Oliver!, a musical based on the Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist. The show also featured a search for three young actors to play and share the title character's role, but the show's main focus was on the search for Nancy. The role was won by Jodie Prenger despite Lloyd Webber's stated preference for one of the other contestants; the winners of the Oliver role were Harry Stott, Gwion Wyn-Jones and Laurence Jeffcoate. Also in April 2008, Lloyd Webber was featured on the U.S. talent show American Idol, acting as a mentor when the 6 finalists had to select one of his songs to perform for the judges that week.

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. At the contest, Lloyd Webber accompanied her on the piano during the performance. The United Kingdom finished fifth in the contest.

On 8 October 2009, Lloyd Webber launched the musical Love Never Dies at a press conference held at Her Majesty's Theatre, where the original Phantom has been running since 1986. Also present were Sierra Boggess, who had been cast as Christine Daaé, and Ramin Karimloo, who portrayed Phantom, a role he had recently played in the West End.

2020s

Lloyd Webber's new version of Cinderella opened at the Gillian Lynne Theatre in the West End in 2021. The opening, which was originally set to take place in August 2020, was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on a book by Emerald Fennell, Lloyd Webber wrote: "Emerald Fennell has written something truly exciting and original, and the moment I read her outline I knew I’d found my latest collaborator." He garnered press attention in July 2021 for saying that he was "prepared to be arrested" to open Cinderella to full houses in spite of rising Covid cases and in defiance Government advice.

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