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