When it comes to musical theatre, there is hardly anyone with the caliber of contributions as Andrew Lloyd Webber. The British Composer has composed several musicals, film scores, and variations. He currently acts as an impresario with his company ‘Really Useful Group’.
Andrew Lloyd Webber was born in Kensington, London on 22nd March, 1948. He was naturally influenced by music at a very early age, for his father was a celebrated composer and an organist, while his mother was a violinist and a pianist, thus, he was trained in various instruments and compositions at a very young age. Some sources state that he compiled a suite of six pieces while he was only nine years old. His aunt was also instrumental in pushing him towards a career in theatre. Webber was a Queen’s Scholar at the famous Westminster School. He would go on to drop out of the University of Oxford to join the Royal College of Music, where he received formal training in musical theatre. His early influences were the likes of Frederick Loewe and Lionel Bart.
His first works were in collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice. Rice and Webber worked together to produce ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and ‘Evita’, the latter being extremely successful, shot both Webber and Rice to prominence. Webber would then collaborate with his brother Julian to write ‘Variations’, a classical rock fusion album that was listed as one of the the top 10 selling albums for weeks in the United Kingdom. He broke the record for the longest running musical in London when he wrote ‘Cats’. He then went on to write the commercially successful ‘Starlight Express’ and the highly versatile piece ‘Cricket’, the latter was yet another collaboration with Tim Rice. Webber also wrote a Requiem Mass for his father, who died in 1982. Perhaps Webber’s greatest contribution to theatre was his record breaking musical, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. The musical has been played over a record 10,400 times on Broadway, making it the most performed show in Broadway history, by a margin of over 3000 shows. He worked with Jim Steinman to write ‘The Whistle down the Wind’. Webber then went on to win the title of ‘the most commercially successful composer in history’ by The New York Times. Some of his musicals have also been adapted as films, of which ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was most notable.
Webber is highly decorated for his contributions to musical theatre. In 1992, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and was also honored with a peerage. He received three academy award nominations, of which he won one for best original song for ‘You must love me’, featured in Evita. He also has three Grammy Awards to his name, in addition to the Grammy Legend Award which he received in 1990. He is also the recipient of seven Tony awards and seven Olivier awards, thus, he established his name as one of the greatest legends in contemporary musical theatre.