Monday, March 22
Today’s date marks the birthday of Andrew Lloyd Webber, the British composer of block- buster musicals such as “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Cats,” and “The Phantom of the Opera.” In addition to winning Grammy and Tony Awards in our country, he’s racked up Olivier Awards in his own. He was knighted in 1992, and in 1997 was created a life peer as Baron Lloyd-Webber, of Sydmonton in the County of Hampshire.
Estimates of his net worth suggest a figure well over 900 million dollars.
Despite all that, Lloyd Webber has always had detractors, including those who accuse him of plagiarizing everyone from Mendelssohn to Puccini to Pink Floyd. His musicals are criticized for their supposed glitz and superficiality, and adversely compared to those of his American contemporary, Stephen Sondheim.
Sarah Crompton, writing for The Telegraph, offered a more nuanced comparison between the two, referencing The Beatles, no less:
“Lloyd Webber is McCartney to Stephen Sondheim's Lennon. He suffers from just the same under-valuing as an innovator because his essential impulse to go for the big, thumping number with the catchy tune will always obscure the subtlety and bravery he is capable of.”
Music Played in Today's Program
Andrew Lloyd Webber (b. 1948) "Memory," from "Cats" Julian Lloyd Webber, cello; Royal Philharmonic; Barry Wordsworth, cond. Philips 426 484-2
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