Andrew Lloyd Webber is arguably the most successful composer of our time. He is best known for stage and film adaptations of his musicals Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Cats (1994), Evita (1996), and The Phantom of the Opera (2004).
He was born on March 22, 1948, in South Kensington in London, England, the first of two sons of William Lloyd Webber, an organist and composer. His mother, Jean Johnstone, was a pianist and violinist. Young Andrew Lloyd Webber learned to play various musical instruments at home and began composing at an early age. He continued his music studies at Westminster School, where his father was an organist. At the age of 9, young Andrew was able to play the organ and assisted his father during performances. In 1964 he went to Oxford University as a Queens Scholar of history.
In 1965 he met lyricist Tim Rice and dropped out of school to compose musicals and pop songs. In 1968 he had his first success with the West End production of ‘Joseph and the Amasing Techicolor Dreamcoat’. From the 1960s to 2000s Lloyd Webber has been constantly updating his style as an eclectic blend of musical genres ranging from classical to rock, pop, and jazz, and with inclusion of electro-acoustic music and choral-like numbers in his musicals.
Andrew Lloyd Webber shot to fame in 1971 with the opening of his rock opera ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. His next successful collaboration with Tim Rice was the musical biopic ‘Evita’, based on the true story of Eva Peron of Argentina. Andrew Lloyd Webber has been constantly updating the genre of musical theatre. In 1981 he delivered ‘Cats’, based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and other poems by T.S. Eliot. It was produced at New London Theatre, where stage was designed as a giant junkyard with large-scale bottles and cans scattered around a huge tire representing a playground for cats dressed in exotic costumes who would come and go through the aisles. The record-breaking production of ‘Cats’ was on stage for 21 seasons, from 1981 – 2002, and became one of the most popular musicals of all time. It played the total of 8,949 performances in London and 7,485 in New York.
In 1986 Andrew Lloyd Webber released his most successful musical, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, based on the eponymous book by Gaston Leroux with the English lyrics by Charles Hart. ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ became the highest grossing entertainment event of all time, with total worldwide gross of 3,3 billion dollars and attendance of 80 million. It is also the longest running Broadway musical of all time and the most financially successful Broadway show in history. ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ was translated into several languages and was produced in more than twenty countries as “clones” of the original production, using similar staging, direction, costumes concept and sets design.
He was knighted Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber in 1992, and was created an honorary life peer in 1997 as Baron Lloyd-Webber, of Syndmonton in the County of Hampshire. He won the 1996 Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for Evita (1996), and received two more Oscar nominations. Among his other awards are seven Tonys and three Grammys, including his 1986 Grammy Award for Requiem in the category of best classical composition. In 2006 Andrew Lloyd Webber was Awarded Kennedy Center Honors. He owns seven London theatres, which he also restored. Outside of his entertainment career he developed a passion for collecting Pre-Raphaelite paintings and Victorian art. He was married three times and has five children. He is residing in England.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is currently working on his new opera titled ‘Master and Margarita’ based on the eponymous novel by Mikhail A. Bulgakov.
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