Andrew Lloyd Webber: Biography, Musicals & Songs

Instructor: Elisa Goldman

Elisa has taught K-6 grades and has two master's degree in Instructional Technology and Education.

Get to know about the life and career of composer, producer, and philanthropist, Andrew Lloyd Webber. He is one of the greatest contributors to musical theater in the last 40 years. This lesson will cover his biography, musicals, and songs.

Music in the Blood

What do people on roller skates, a deformed opera librettist, and a bunch of feisty felines have in common? They were all dreamed up or adapted by arguably the most successful British composer in modern musical theater.

Andrew Lloyd Webber was born in London on March 22, 1948. His mother, Jean Johnstone, was a piano teacher, and his father, William Lloyd Webber, was the director of the London College of Music, Oxford. He studied musical theater at the Royal College of Music.

Andrew Lloyd Webber was knighted by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in 1992, and made a member of the British House of Lords in 1997.

andrew lloyd webber

The Musicals

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of such musicals as Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Whistle Down the Wind, Aspects of Love, Starlight Express, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Jesus Christ Superstar

The Phantom of the Opera is the longest continuously running show between its engagements in London and New York City. It began playing in London's West End in 1986 and in New York City in 1988. That's more than 25 years!

Hitting His Stride

The 1980's brought Lloyd Webber several of his greatest hits. He partnered with director and lyricist Trevor Nunn on Cats, based on author T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939). It opened in London in 1981 and on Broadway in 1982 to a joyful (and purr-fect) reception by audiences.

The Songs

Andrew Lloyd Webber's stories are full of memorable and mesmerizing songs. Many of these songs are what you might call 'earworms'; once they get in your ear, you'll find yourself humming them at the most inconvenient times.

Some of his best known songs have become popular independent of the shows they were a part of. Cats produced one of the most beloved and often-covered songs, Memory. It was originally sung by Elaine Paige, who originated the role of Grizabella, the elderly Glamour Cat in Britain. It was also recorded by such singers as Barbara Streisand, Johnny Mathis, and Celine Dion.

From the haunted Paris Opera set of The Phantom of the Opera comes many memorable songs, including the titular song, Phantom of the Opera, and Music of the Night.

Evita brought the world the story of a well-loved first lady of Argentina belting out Don't Cry for Me, Argentina. Originally portrayed by master diva, Patti LuPone, the show was later made into a movie in 1996 starring another diva, Madonna.

Sunset Boulevard provided a platform for actress Glenn Close to show off her multitude of talents, originating the role of Norma Desmond singing the stand-out songs Just One Look and If We Never Said Goodbye.


Theatre Owner and Philanthropist

Lloyd Webber's success and dedication to the arts led him to start The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation in 1992. It has become one of become of the leading charities that gives grants and scholarships to art, theater, and music programs in Great Britain.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has earned multiple Tony, Emmy, and Grammy awards, as well as numerous other distinguished honors for his work and philanthropy.

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