British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber was born into a musical family on March 22, 1948. (Both his parents taught at the Royal Conservatory, and his younger brother Julian is a concert cellist.) Andrew's musical activities began at age three with violin lessons, later to be augmented with viola and piano studies. His aunt Vi influenced his early interest in musical theater by taking him to performances of productions such as My Fair Lady, South Pacific and the film Gigi. With her encouragement he began writing musical theater compositions for the small stage he built at home, and soon was composing musical plays for his Westminster School student productions.
Lloyd Webber enrolled at Oxford University at age 16 to study music, but dropped out a year later after meeting 21 year old lyricist Tim Rice, with whom he collaborated on several early musicals. Their first success was the 15 minute rock musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, commissioned by the music director of a small preparatory school in London. This score was later expanded into a full two-hour London stage version. Subsequent smash hit productions included Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita, which were also made into films.
Webber worked with a number of other lyricists in later shows. Cats opened in 1981, with lyricist Trevor Nunn working the poetry of T.S.Eliot into the play's popular, singable songs. Cats turned out to be the all-time biggest moneymaker and longest-running production in musical theater history. Nearly as succsessful, his The Phantom of the Opera opened in 1986, with Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe writing the lyrics; its film version premiered in late 2004. Lloyd Webber continues to collaborate with a wide range of lyricists, and runs a production company, The Really Useful Group, based in London. He has also composed several pieces for his cellist brother, as well as a Requiem at the time of his father's death. His most recent work, The Woman in White, opened on the West End in 2004 to enthusiastic acclaim.
His successes have been recognized by many awards -- seven Tonys, six Oliviers, three Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar -- for his film scores. He was knighted in 1992 and made a Life Peer in 1997. He has been married three times (once to soprano Sarah Brightman, who appeared in several of his shows) and has five children.