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Book Review
Julian Lloyd Webber - Married to Music
The Authorised biography by Margaret Campbell
Robson Books. 16:95. 206 pages hardback ISBN 1-86105-400-9
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Julian Lloyd Webber is a pleasant and unassuming artist, as I can myself testify. Earlier this year, he approached me to thank me for my efforts in promoting British music - a cause dear to his own heart. (He himself has championed many little known works by British composers including cello concertos by Bliss and Sullivan.) This gesture was particularly generous since I am hardly one of the best-known critics; although I was pleasantly surprised when I noticed in this book, a quote from one of my BBC Music Magazine reviews (uncredited, c'est la vie!) of music by his father. Margaret Campbell's book at last brings Julian out of the shadows inevitably cast over his career by his much higher profiled brother Andrew Lloyd Webber so that one can appreciate his very considerable achievements.

During the course of the book three strong crusades become apparent. Number one is Julian's desire to promote the music of his father William Lloyd Webber. This is very laudable considering the retiring nature of Lloyd Webber père. In Campbell's writings William appears a tragic figure embittered and depressed by lack of attention to his music. [A list of William Lloyd Webber's works is included in the back of the book.] I have to be honest in declaring my own opinion that William's music is pleasant enough, if eclectic, but not comparable to the best of British music -- still one must admire his son Julian's loyalty. Equally, one admires Julian's tenacity in crusading on behalf of the deceased Jacqueline du Pré so maligned in the book A Genius in the Family published by her sister Hilary and her brother Piers; and the subsequent film, Hilary and Jackie. Julian's other crusade is for the future of classical music. He is always keen to promote an awareness of classical music especially amongst young people and once challenged, very successfully, GMTV to feature classical music one morning wagering that there would be considerable public interest. He was perfectly right. I hope that he will continue his good work and remember that it is just as important to encourage listeners as well players of classical music. After all it is no good having players if they have no audiences.

Campbell covers the colourful Lloyd Webber family history with sensitivity. Besides William and Andrew the household nurtured the emerging talent of pianist, John Lill. The biographical details cover Julian's two ill-fated marriages, both of which ended in divorce. Married to Music seems a very appropriate title for his first wife, Celia Ballantyne, now a recording company executive, decided, at last, that she could not play second fiddle to a cello! There are many amusing anecdotes especially those concerning Julian's travels with his instrument. He has to buy two tickets one for himself the other for his precious cello and one can imagine the inevitable ensuing complications.

The book includes a comprehensive discography including a number of cross-over recordings. A most pleasant read.

Ian Lace

See the William Lloyd Webber web site

 

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