Sunday, 23 May 2010

The prototype Andrew Lloyd Webber

With Andrew Lloyd Webber's TV show looking for a newcomer to play Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Over the Rainbow, now finished it's time to reflect on the great man himself. (Congratulations to Danielle, by the way - the best Dorothy won.)

Lloyd Webber tends to be attacked by critics a lot, and I think unfairly. While I do tend to agree that his best work was his early stuff - there were just so many more great tunes in something like Joseph or Cats - he can write excellent stuff, and certainly knows how to put on a spectacle. Frankly, it's hard not to see sour grapes in the criticism.

I certainly think he is hard done by when compared with his eighteenth century counterpart, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Now at this point I can hear some sharp intakes of breath, but I genuinely believe the comparison holds. Both could write a good tune. Both wrote some musicals (I really don't see the point distinguishing between a Mozart opera and a musical) with ridiculous plots. Both wrote some okay but rather overrated church music.

If the musical mafia weren't so hung up on Mozart's genius, I think they might accept that he was a similar crowd pleaser whose music rarely challenges, but often delivers. Of course I'm biassed. I don't like much Mozart myself. With the exception of the A major piano sonata, which is one of my favourite piano pieces, I don't think I'd give any of it room on my iPod (and I don't). But then I don't have any Lloyd Webber either.

So hail Andrew Lloyd Webber, our present day Mozart. He may not be treated as such... but then Mozart wasn't in his day either.

Image from Wikipedia


  1. As well as the plagiarism gibes in Victor Lewis Smith's fantastic TV Offal: the piece by Mozart that ALW ripped off was from the third movement of Sonata 11 in A minor (K331) used as the tune for "Pharaoh's Dream Explained" from Joseph.

  2. If I had an iPod [hinting furiously at my family to buy me one for my birthday], Phantom and Cats would be my top choices.

    He has a TV show? See what we miss on this side of the pond?

  3. Lynn - Phantom is my favourite as a spectacle, Cats as music, so I'm with your there.

    He has had a series of very successful shows on the BBC which are basically auditions to provide the lead in a West End musical, the most recent to find a Dorothy for Wizard of Oz. Rather strange mix of reality show and job interview - I suppose a musical equivalent of The Apprentice.