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People in the News: Andrew Lloyd Webber | Level 8 | By Little Fox

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[Series Introduction]

Young newscasters Ben and Olivia introduce well-known people from around the world. These “people in the news” have accomplished extraordinary things in science, sports, music, business, politics, and more!

[Subtitle]

BEN: Welcome to People in the News! Today Olivia is going to tell us about Andrew Lloyd Webber, a British composer who writes music for musical theater productions. Millions of people around the world have seen his shows, and he's broken all kinds of box office records. Right, Olivia?

OLIVIA: That’s right, Ben. Andrew is one of the most successful composers in the world. Several of his musicals, such as Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, have been megahits! Andrew was born into a family of musicians on March 22, 1948, in London, England. His mother, Jean, was a well-known piano teacher. His father, William, was a church organist and music professor.
While Andrew’s brother, Julian, excelled on the cello, Andrew was not the best piano student. He often preferred to play his own compositions instead of working on his lessons! Andrew started composing at age seven. His music was first published in a magazine for music teachers when he was only 11 years old.
Despite Andrew’s early signs of talent, his father discouraged him from pursuing a career in music. William wrote church music, but he had always regretted his lack of success as a classical composer. He told Andrew that music was an awful business, and he should avoid it!
Young Andrew liked history, and he was especially interested in old buildings and monuments. So the Lloyd Webbers often spent their vacations traveling around Great Britain, looking at Roman ruins and the remains of ancient Welsh castles.
Andrew’s Aunt Vi was the one who sparked a love for musical theater in Andrew. An actress, she often took him to see plays in London’s theater district, called the West End. Vi also suggested that Andrew build a toy theater to put on shows for his family. So Andrew constructed an elaborate theater that even had a revolving stage. Andrew played the piano while Julian moved the toy "actors" around the set.
When Andrew was in high school, a young lyricist named Tim Rice heard that Andrew was looking for someone to write words for his music. So he wrote to Andrew, and they began to discuss working together.
In the meantime Andrew was accepted to Oxford University to study history. Some people thought he was going to become a historian, but Andrew had another motive for attending Oxford. He’d heard a lot of good lyricists attended the school.

BEN: So did he find a lyricist?

OLIVIA: Yes, but not at Oxford. Andrew didn’t like studying history. After a semester, he left Oxford and moved home to collaborate with Tim Rice. While Andrew studied at the Royal College of Music, Tim worked at a record company. The two partners had very different personalities. Andrew was quiet and thoughtful while Tim was outgoing and stylish. It took them several months to learn how to collaborate well.
Their first commission came from a music teacher who needed something for his school chorus to perform at a concert. Using the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers, Tim and Andrew wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It debuted in 1968 before an audience of school parents. At that point it was just 15 minutes long.
A music critic for a major London newspaper attended the next performance at a church. He wrote a favorable review and suddenly all of London was talking about this talented musical duo! Tim and Andrew soon wrote enough music for a full-length version of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Fourteen years later that show was produced on Broadway. In the meantime Andrew and Tim . . .

[Little Fox Introduction]

Little Fox is an award-winning library of leveled stories and songs. We create animated stories and songs to help kids to learn English easily as a second language (ESL). Visit our website, www.littlefox.com, to learn more about our unique curriculum and our thousands of digital resources.

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