Variations (Andrew Lloyd Webber album)

Variations is a classical and rock fusion album. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and performed by his younger brother, the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

Studio album by
Released22 January 1978
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic [2]

The Lloyd Webber brothers were always very close but their two different careers (a rock musical composer and a classical cellist) meant that a collaboration seemed unlikely. It was not until Julian beat his brother in a bet on a Leyton Orient football match that Andrew was forced to write his cello work.

As his subject, Andrew chose the theme of Paganini's 24th caprice and added 23 variations for cello and rock band. The work premiered at the 1977 Sydmonton Festival with rock band Colosseum II, featuring Gary Moore, Jon Hiseman and Don Airey being joined by Barbara Thompson (sax, flute), Rod Argent (piano, synthesizer, keyboards) and Julian Lloyd Webber (cello). It was subsequently rearranged and recorded in 1978. It reached Number 2 on the UK album charts.[3]

The cover is based on the painting Frederick, Prince of Wales, and his sisters by Philip Mercier.



The work was used in musical Song and Dance (1982) and David Cullen made an arrangement of the work for cello and orchestra. The opening and closing variations have been rewritten by Laurence Roman for cello and piano, the latter of which Julian often uses as an encore, due to its amusing glissando down to Bottom A (forcing a mid piece retune) to conclude.

The opening theme is used as the theme to The South Bank Show (1978–2010) and "Variation 5" became "Unexpected Song" with lyrics by Don Black. "Variation 18" is an instrumental version of the title song from the first Rice and Webber musical, The Likes of Us (1965, unperformed until 2005). Also, the UK's children's program, The Book Tower (hosted by Doctor Who actor, Tom Baker) adopted a section of "Variation 19" for its theme tune.

In Lloyd Webber's West End musical adaptation of the film School of Rock (2003), Dewey Finn and Ned Schneebly play Guitar Hero to the audience on an imaginary TV screen, and the Variations album is played. In addition, the chorus of the song "Stick it to the Man" is based on a note sequence from Variation 14.

Brothers Julian Lloyd Webber and Andrew Lloyd Webber working at Variations in 1977.

Track listing

  1. "Introduction"
  2. "Theme (Paganini Caprice in A minor No. 24) and Variations 1-4"
  3. "Variations 5 and 6"
  4. "Variation 7"
  5. "Variation 8"
  6. "Variation 9"
  7. "Variation 10"
  8. "Variations 11-15 (including the Tributes to Hank Marvin and Prokofiev)"
  9. "Variation 16"
  10. "Variations 13-14 Varied" (listed as 14-15)
  11. "Variation 17"
  12. "Variation 18" (Rachmaninoff's Variation 18)
  13. "Variations 19, 20 and 5 Varied (listed as 6)"
  14. "Variations 21 and 22"
  15. "Variation 23"


Original rock version
with additional performers
Orchestral version

See also



  1. ^ Stanley, Bob (2022). "Epilogue". Let's Do It - The Birth of Pop Music: A History. New York. p. 586.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Andrew Lloyd Webber - Variations (1978) album review". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2009.
  3. ^; retrieved 24-04-14