William Southcombe Lloyd Webber CBE was an English organist and composer, who achieved some fame as a part of the modern classical music movement whilst commercially facing mixed opportunities.
William Southcombe Lloyd Webber (11 March 1914 – 29 October 1982) was an English organist and composer, who achieved some fame as a part of the modern classical music movement whilst commercially facing mixed opportunities. Besides his long and prestigious career, composing works ranging from choral pieces to instrumental items and more, he is known for being the father of both fellow composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and virtuoso cellist Julian Lloyd Webber. He also notably served as a teacher, instructing pupils on music theory at the Royal College of Music for many years until his death in 1982.Webber was born in London. The son of William Charles Henry Webber, a self-employed plumber, he was fortunate 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 churches and cathedrals throughout Great Britain. He won an organ scholarship to the 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.
Lloyd Webber's earliest known composition is the "remarkably assured" Fantasy Trio in B minor for violin, cello and piano of 1936 (which didn't receive its premiere until 1995). In 1938, he was appointed organist and head of the choir school at All Saints, Margaret Street, in the Marylebone district of London. He later became musical director at Westminster Central Hall, London, the headquarters of the Methodist church in the United Kingdom. His first compositions developed in the 1930s. In 1942 he married the pianist and violinist Jean Hermione Johnstone (1921–1993). The marriage, which lasted until his death, produced two sons: composer Andrew (born 1948) and cellist Julian (born 1951).
From 1945 until the mid-1950s, 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 flute, numerous songs, organ pieces and choral works. But 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. He taught at the Royal College of Music, directed the choir of Methodist Central Hall, Westminster and in 1964 was appointed Director of the London College of Music, a post which he held until his death in 1982.
Music of William Lloyd Webber, (ASV Digital, CD DCA 961, 1996)
Organ Works of William Lloyd Webber, (Priory, PRCD 616, 1998)
William Lloyd Webber piano music, chamber music and songs, (Hyperion, CDA67008, 1998)
Sacred Choral Music of William Lloyd Webber, (Priory PRCD677, 1999)
Invocation, (Chandos CHAN 9595, 1998)
William Lloyd Webber's biography
William Lloyd Webber's Facebook page
Air Varie on YouTube and In the half-light on YouTube by William Lloyd Webber played by his son, Julian Lloyd Webber
Performance of Aurora on YouTube by the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel
Guardian article written by Julian Lloyd Webber about his father, 16 April 2004
William Lloyd Webber: An Impressionistic View by John France
Review of William Lloyd Webber Centenary Concert.