William Lloyd Webber

William Lloyd Webber (1914-1982)

By the age of 14, William had already become a well-known organ recitalist, giving frequent performances at many important churches and cathedrals throughout Great Britain. He won an organ scholarship to Mercer's School, later winning a further scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music, where he studied composition with Ralph Vaughan Williams and gained his FRCO diploma at nineteen.

Parallel to his activities as an organist, he began to compose, and several interesting works date from this early period including the 'Fantasy Trio' of 1936. Although the second world war interrupted his composition (he was organist and choirmaster at London's All Saints, Margaret Street throughout the war), its ending marked the beginning of Lloyd Webber's most prolific years as a composer.

During the war he had married Jean Hermione Johnstone, a violinist and pianist. They had two sons: Andrew (b.1948) and Julian (b.1951).

From 1945 to the mid-1950s he wrote music in many different forms: vocal and instrumental, choral and organ, chamber and orchestral. Works from this period include the oratorio 'St. Francis of Assisi', the orchestral tone poem 'Aurora', the Sonatinas for viola and piano and flute and piano, and numerous songs, organ pieces and choral works. But Lloyd Webber's roots were firmly embedded in the romanticism of such composers as Rachmaninov, Sibelius and Franck, and he became increasingly convinced that his own music was 'out of step' with the prevailing climate of the time. Rather than compromise his style, he turned to the academic side of British musical life - teaching at the Royal College of Music and, in 1964, accepting the Directorship of the London College of Music. Disillusioned with composition, he wrote virtually nothing for the next 20 years - until shortly before his death, when a sudden flowering of creativity produced among a number of works the mass 'Missa Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae' (available on ASV CD, DCA 961).

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