News, Culture & Society

Julian Lloyd Webber, 70, in the sitting room of his flat in south-west London 

My haven, Julian Lloyd Webber: The world-renowned cellist, 70, who’s just been awarded an OBE, in the sitting room of his flat in south-west London

  • Julian Lloyd Webber shares items of significance in his flat in south-west London
  • The world-renowned cellist, 70, treasures a photo from his first day at school 
  • Also cherishes a gold disc presented in 1978 for classic/rock album Variations

Julian Lloyd Webber, 70, (pictured) shared items of personal significance in the sitting room of his flat in south-west London


I started playing the cello when I was four years old, but only began taking it seriously when a teacher at the Royal College of Music’s junior department took me to hear some great cellists in concert. 

I’ve always felt I could speak through my cello because it’s in the same pitch range as the human voice. I was forced to give it up in 2014 when a herniated disc in my neck reduced the strength in my bowing arm.


Here I am, aged four, with my brother Andrew, aged seven, on my first day at school. My schooldays were happy until I decided I wanted to be a solo cellist at the age of 13. 

I lost interest in schoolwork and did the absolute minimum so I could focus on practising. As kids, Andrew and I created a make-believe world. 

We had a toy theatre with a revolving stage made from a record turntable. Andrew was writing musicals even then.

Julian treasures a photo from his first day at school, taken with his brother Andrew

Julian treasures a photo from his first day at school, taken with his brother Andrew 


This gold disc was presented to me in 1978 for the classical/rock album Variations. The album came about when Andrew lost a bet with me about the outcome of a Leyton Orient match.

As a forfeit, he wrote the cello piece he was always promising me. Variations reached No 2 in the UK album charts, and one of the themes was later immortalised as the theme tune to the arts programme The South Bank Show.


An avid collector, I’ve amassed LPs, by my feet here, and beer bottles from local breweries since the 60s. I’ve had the threepenny bits here since my teens, and I have examples from every year they were made. 

They intrigued me as they’re such unusual coins. While building up my collection I’d terrorise local banks by asking for bags of threepenny bits, sifting through them, then returning them an hour later to ask for another bag. In the end the local branches all banned me.  


I’ve also been collecting Leyton Orient football programmes and memorabilia like this piggy bank since I was 11, when I started following the east London club. 

My mum used to drop off pianist John Lill (see right) home to Leyton after our music lessons at the Royal College, and while she was chatting to his parents, I’d sidle off to watch them play.

My daughter Jasmine’s middle name is Orienta, partly in homage to the club. A mix of both me and my wife Jiaxin, she’s impetuous and highly intelligent but only works hard at things that interest her, which is a Lloyd Webber trait.


In this photo of me aged 16 I’m with my father William, director of the London College of Music, and my mother Jean, a piano teacher. On the left is pianist John Lill, who was ‘adopted’ by my mum because she was drawn to musical talent. I grew up in a noisy, bohemian household. At one point we were sharing our flat with my grandmother, John Lill and Tim Rice. The neighbours just gave up.

As told to Angela Wintle. Julian’s three-CD box set, The Singing Strad, issued to mark his 70th birthday, is out now on Decca Records.