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William Lloyd Webber

William Southcombe Lloyd Webber (11 March 1914, London–29 October 1982, London) was an English organist and composer.

The son of William Charles Henry Webber, a self-employed plumber, he was fortunate, from a musical point of view, that his father was a keen organ 'buff' who spent what little money he had travelling to hear various organs in and around the capital. Often he would take his son with him, and before long, young William started to play the organ himself and developed a keen interest that bordered on the obsessional.

By the age of 14, William Lloyd Webber 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 Mercers' School, later winning a further scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music where he studied with Ralph Vaughan Williams and gained his FRCO diploma at nineteen. Because there was already another student at the college with the name William Webber, William continued to use his second middle name 'Lloyd' from then on as part of his name.

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

In 1938, he was appointed Organist and choirmaster of All Saints, later moving to Westminster Central Hall, London, one of the most significant Methodist churches in the United Kingdom. His first compositions developed in the 1930s. In 1942 he married the pianist and violinist Jean Hermione Johnstone. The marriage produced two sons: composer Andrew (born 1948) and cellist Julian (born 1951).

From 1945 until the mid-1950s, Lloyd Webber composed vocal and instrumental music, choral and organ works, chamber music and orchestral works. 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 Sergei Rachmaninov, Jean Sibelius and César 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, directing the choir at Central Hall, Westminster, and, in 1964, accepting the Directorship of the London College of Music, a post which he held until his death in 1982.

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 an ASV CD, DCA961).

William Lloyd Webber was by nature a shy and withdrawn character. He had an avowed dislike of self-promotion and found the 'cut and thrust' approach apparently necessary for the furtherance of a composer's career to be complete anathema. He also had no time for the trappings of verbosity, and was a man averse to wasting words or, in his music, notes. "Why", he would ask his pupils, “write six pages, when six bars will do?"

William Lloyd Webber's music has recently enjoyed a resurgence and is heard increasingly in both live and recorded performances. When 'Aurora' was recorded for Philips in 1986 by Lorin Maazel and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Edward Greenfield of The Guardian called it "skillfully and sumptuously scored ... music as sensuous as any you will find from a British composer".

In 2005, Lloyd Webber's The Divine Compassion was revived by the Aeolian Singers. This large scale choral work takes 95 minutes to perform and is based on the account of The Passion of Christ in the Gospel of John.

A 'William Lloyd Webber Festival' took place in the spring and summer of 2007 in London.

Selected works

Orchestra

  • Lento in E Major for String Orchestra (1939)
  • Waltz in E Minor for Orchestra (1939)
  • Aurora, Tone Poem for Orchestra (1951)
  • Three Spring Miniatures for Small Orchestra (1952); orchestration of original piano work

# Gossamer (A Little Waltz)
# Willow Song (A lament)
# Tree Tops (A Toccatina)

  • Serenade for Strings

I. Barcarolle (1951)
II. Romance (1980)
III. Elegy (1960)

  • Invocation for Harp, Timpani and String Orchestra (1957)

Brass band

  • Little Suite for Brass

I. Prelude
II. Adagio
III. Festive March

Chamber

  • Three Pieces for Cello and Piano

# In the Half-Light (1951)
# Air Varié (adapted from Tantum Ergo by César Franck)
# Slumber Song

  • Fantasy Trio in B Minor for Violin, Cello and Piano (1936)
  • Sonatina for Flute and Piano (1941)
  • Benedictus for Violin and Organ (1942)
  • Nocturne for Cello and Piano or Harp (1948); from the oratorio St. Francis of Assisi
  • Air and Variations for Clarinet and Piano (1952)
  • Sonatina for Viola and Piano (1952)
  • Country Impressions (1960)

# Mulberry Cottage for Flute and Piano (1960)
# On Frensham Pond (Aquarelle) for Clarinet and Piano (1960)

  • A Lyric Suite for Cello and Piano (1964)
  • Summer Pastures for Horn and Piano
  • Suite in B for Trumpet and Piano
  • The Gardens at Eastwell (A Late Summer Impression) for Violin and Piano or Harp (1982)

Piano

  • Three Spring Miniatures for Piano (1952); also orchestrated

# Gossamer (A Little Waltz)
# Willow Song (A lament)
# Tree Tops (A Toccatina)

  • Six Pieces for Piano

# A Song for the Morning (1957); composed under the pseudonym Clive Chapel
# Scherzo in G Minor
# Arabesque
# Romantic Evening
# Explanation; composed under the pseudonym Clive Chapel
# Song without Words

  • Three Pieces for Piano

# Presto for Perseus
# Autumn Elf
# Badinage de Noël

  • Scenes from Childhood for Piano

# Cake Walk
# Sentimental Waltz
# Air
# Scherzo
# Evening Hymn
# China Doll

  • A Short Tone-Study for Piano
  • River Song for Piano 4-Hands
  • Danse Macabre for 2 Pianos

Organ

  • Chorale, Cantilena and Finale
  • Three Recital Pieces (1952)

# Prelude
# Barcarolle
# Nuptial March

  • Aria – Thirteen Pieces

# Prelude on St Cross;
# Choral March
# Communion
# Solemn Procession
# Prelude on Passion Chorale
# Prelude on Rockingham
# Festal March
# Prelude on Gerontius
# Aria
# Verset
# Prelude on Winchester New
# Vesper Hymn
# Meditation on Stracathro

  • Reflections – Seven Pieces

# Prelude
# Slumber Song
# Summer Pastures
# Romance
# Intermezzo
# Christ in the Tomb (from The Divine Compassion)
# Postlude

  • Eight Varied Pieces

# Arietta in A Major
# Minuet
# Recessional
# Andantino alla Cantilena
# Introit
# Dedication March
# Pastorale
# Epilogue

  • Songs without Words – Six Pieces

# Noel Nouvelet
# Song without Words
# Trumpet Minuet
# God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
# The Coventry Carol
# Good King Wenceslas

  • Five Portraits for Home Organs
  • Elegy
  • Three Interludes on Christmas Carols

# Interlude on 'Good King Wenceslas'
# Interlude on 'Coventry Carol'
# Interlude on 'God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen'

Choral

  • Missa Sanctae Mariae Magdalenae for Choir and Organ (1979)
  • Princeps Pacis (The Prince of Peace), Mass for Chorus and Organ (1962)
  • The Saviour, A Meditation upon the Death of Christ for Chorus and Organ
  • The Divine Compassion, Sacred Cantata for Tenor, Baritone, Chorus and Organ
  • St. Francis of Assisi, Oratorio for Soprano, Tenor, Baritone, Chorus, String Orchestra and Harp (1948)
  • Born a King, a Christmas Cantata for Soloists, Chorus and Organ
  • Songs of Spring, Cantata for Female Chorus and Piano
  • O Lord, Spread Thy Wings O'er Me, Anthem for Soprano (or Treble Voice), Chorus and Accompaniment
  • Spirit of God, Anthem for Chorus and Organ
  • Dominus Firmamentum Meum, Anthem for Chorus and Organ
  • Lo! My Shepherd Is Divine, Anthem for Soprano, Alto, Chorus and Organ
  • Lo, God Is Here, Anthem for Chorus and Organ
  • Seven Anthems

# Sing the Life, Easter Carol for Chorus and Accompaniment
# A Hymn of Thanksgiving for Unison Voices and Organ
# O Love, I Give Myself to Thee for Female Chorus and Organ
# O for a Closer Walk with God for Chorus and Organ
# Then Come, All Ye People, Carol for Chorus and Accompaniment
# The Lord Is My Shepherd for Chorus and Organ
# Love Divine, All Loves Excelling for Chorus and Organ (1964); from The Good Samaritan

  • Tantum Ergo, Anthem for Bass Solo, Chorus and Organ
  • Jesus, Dear Jesus, Carol for Boy Treble, Children's Choir and Organ
  • The Stable Where the Oxen Stood
  • Most Glorious Lord of Lyfe, Anthem for Chorus Suitable for Easter; words by Edmund Spenser
  • Meeting Place, a Meditation upon the Birth of Christ for Baritone, Chorus and Piano or Organ (1964)
  • Jamie Brown, a Happy Story in Song for Two-Part Chorus and Piano (published 1962)

Partsongs

  • April for Female Chorus and Piano
  • Corinna's Lute for Female Chorus and Piano
  • Sun-Gold for Female Chorus and Piano, words by May Sarson
  • Moon Silver for Female Chorus and Piano
  • Lament for Female Chorus and Piano
  • I heard a Rush of Wings for Female (or Children's) Chorus and Piano
  • The Moon for Unaccompanied Chorus
  • A Magic Morn for Female Chorus and Piano
  • The Heather Hills for Female Chorus and Piano

Vocal

# And I Saw a New Heaven
# The King of Love (from The Saviour)
# Thou Art the King (from The Divine Compassion)

References

External links

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