March 22: Musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is 63 today.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is considered the most commercially successful composer in history. Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway.

He has composed 13 musicals, a song cycle, a set of variations, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass.

He has also gained a number of honors, including a knighthood in 1992, followed by a peerage from the British Government for services to Music, seven Tony Awards, three Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, fourteen Ivor Novello Awards, seven Olivier Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2006.

Several of his songs, notably "The Music of the Night" from The Phantom of the Opera, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and "You Must Love Me" from Evita, "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and "Memory" from Cats have become popular hit songs.

Webber's company, the Really Useful Group, is one of the largest theatre operators in London. Producers in several parts of the UK have staged productions, including national tours, of the Lloyd Webber musicals under license from the Really Useful Group.

Andrew Lloyd Webber was born in Kensington, London. His father William Lloyd Webber was a composer, and his mother, Jean Hermione, a violinist and pianist. His younger brother, Julian Lloyd Webber, is a renowned solo cellist.

Lloyd Webber started writing his own music at a young age, a suite of six pieces at the age of nine. He also put on "productions" with Julian and his Aunt Viola in his toy theatre. His aunt Viola, an actress, took him to see many of her shows and through the stage door into the world of the theatre.

Lloyd Webber was a Queen's Scholar at Westminster School and first studied history at Magdalen College, Oxford, although he abandoned the course to study at the Royal College of Music and pursue his interest in musical theatre.

Lloyd Webber's first collaboration with lyricist Tim Rice was The Likes of Us, a musical based on the story of Thomas John Barnardo. Although composed in 1965, it was not publicly performed until 2005, when a production was staged at his Lloyd Webber's Sydmonton Festival.

Also in the 1960s, Rice and Lloyd Webber wrote a number of individual pop songs that were recorded as singles for record labels.

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Andrew Lloyd Webber - Requiem / Domingo, Brightman, ECO, Maazel

In 1968, Rice and Lloyd Webber were commissioned to write a piece for Colet Court which resulted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, about the biblical story of Joseph, which features a number of musical styles such as Elvis-style rock'n'roll, Calypso and country music. This was followed by Jesus Christ Superstar.

Lloyd Webber collaborated with Rice once again to write Evita in the mid to late 1970s, based on the life of Eva Perón. As with Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita was released first as a concept album. The song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" became a hit single.

In 1978, Lloyd Webber embarked on a solo project, the "Variations," with his cellist brother Julian based on the 24th Caprice by Paganini, which reached number two in the pop album chart in the United Kingdom. The main theme was used as the theme tune for ITV1's long-running South Bank Show throughout its 32-year run.

In 1980, Lloyd Webber embarked on his next project without a lyricist, turning instead to the poetry of T. S. Eliot. Cats became the longest running musical in London, where it ran for 21 years before closing. On Broadway, Cats ran for eighteen years, a record which would ultimately be broken by another Lloyd Webber musical, The Phantom of the Opera.

While most of Lloyd Webber's works have been successes, he has also had his shae of flops, especially in the US. Song and Dance, Starlight Express, and The Woman In White, all successes in London, did not meet the same reception in New York.

Andrew Lloyd Webber was knighted by Elizabeth II in 1992. In 1997, Elizabeth II created him a life peer as Baron Lloyd-Webber, of Sydmonton in the County of Hampshire. He sits as a Conservative member of the House of Lords.