ANDREW LLOYD-WEBBER – GREAT AND FRUITFUL
Even those who are far from the world of music have probably heard at least once about the outstanding composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and his immortal creations – the musicals The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita and the rock opera Jesus Christ is a superstar. For almost half a century, he devoted himself to creating music that resonated in the hearts of hundreds of millions of listeners around the world.
March 22, 1948 was a significant day in the history of South Kensington – one of the areas of London. I must say that at that time only two people understood this – Gene and William Lloyd Webbers, because they were incredibly happy about the birth of their firstborn Andrew. The grandmother Molly Johnstone, in whose apartment the whole family settled, was also happy with her grandson. The boy was lucky to be born in a musical family – his father played the organ and was the director of the Royal College of Music, his mother taught the piano.
Andrew was raised on fertile soil, he enjoyed playing the violin, and at the age of six he earned flattering reviews in a local music magazine about several published piano compositions. Mom Jin noticed that her son does not like to perform someone else’s works, only her own. The pedagogical instinct prompted her composer Andrew Lloyd-Webburn to argue with the child in such a delicate matter. So began the thorny path of Andrew in art. By the way, his younger brother Julian, who became a famous cellist, chose the same path.
At the age of eight, Andrew was admitted to a prestigious educational institution – Westminster Preparatory School, and five years later he was enrolled in high school itself. In those years, Andrew inflamed with love not only for music, but also for the history of the Middle Ages, which was facilitated by trips to numerous architectural monuments of England. Parents even predicted a great future for him in the scientific world, but these dreams remained unfulfilled. And all thanks to one of the concerts, where the thirteen-year-old Andrew won applause from the public and, inspired by success, made the final choice in favor of music. At this evening he needed to play several pieces, and unexpectedly for everyone he performed excerpts from his compositions, which won the audience.
While the world was hippy and fanatical with the Beatles, sixteen-year-old Lloyd Webber pored over his works, one of which he decided to send to the authoritative record company Decca. By happy coincidence, his melody was not lost among thousands of others, but caught the eye of musical agent Desmond Elliot. This fact itself would hardly play any role in the fate of Andrew, the composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber if it were not for the remote acquaintance of this Desmond with a certain Timothy Rice – a member of a little-known pop group and songwriter. It was Eliot who told Rice about the existence of Webber.
Tim wrote a letter to Andrew, and a few days later they began working together on the musical “Like Us”. Rice in all respects was the exact opposite of Lloyd Webber, which is probably why they complemented each other so, primarily in creativity.
The full-fledged work of the young creators was hindered by the fact that Andrew had to go to Magdalen College in Oxford, where he won a scholarship for studies by writing an excellent work on Victorian architecture. Andrew was afraid that while he was studying, a co-author-librettist would be taken from under his nose. Having taken an academic leave after the first semester, Webber did not return to college anymore.
Lloyd Webber’s second attempt
The debut musical of Tim and Andrew, contrary to the expectations of the authors, had no success. However, the guys were not very upset and took up a new project – the composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, the teacher Juliana (Andrew’s younger brother) suggested they write a small cantata for a Bible story for a school concert. So another brainchild of Timothy and Andrew was born under the name “Joseph and his amazing multi-colored dream cloak.”
The school community was honored to hear this creation on March 1, 1968. At the presentation, among other parents was the author of the music column of the Sunday Times newspaper, who wrote positive material about this event. A few more flattering reviews in other publications did the trick, and the musicians had a contract with New Ventures in their pocket.
And a superstar came up
In 1969, the authors created the whole rock opera “Jesus Christ is a superstar.” The appearance of this work has become one of the most striking cultural events of the last century. The album with singles from “Jesus” was sold in huge numbers, making Andrew and Tim famous. It should be noted that the rock opera libretto caused a mixed reaction from the public. Interpretation of the last week of Jesus’ life, as Judas saw it, caused a lot of protests of believers. Although they did not stop the authors from making a theatrical production and becoming witnesses of the film adaptation of the musical in 1973.