Entertainment & Arts

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber to retire with neck injury

Julian Lloyd Webber Image copyright PA
Image caption In 2009, Lloyd Webber was elected president of the Elgar Society

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, the brother of Lord Lloyd-Webber, is to retire due to a neck injury which has left him unable to play.

Lloyd Webber said he was "devastated" to end his career as a musician.

The 63-year-old said a herniated disc in his neck had reduced the power in his right arm, with which he holds his bow.

Lloyd Webber's acclaimed performance of his brother's Variations album was used as the theme to The South Bank Show.

He was also celebrated for his performance of Elgar's Cello Concerto and was elected president of the Elgar Society in 2009.

Lloyd Webber said: "I am devastated. There were so many exciting plans that cannot now come to fruition.

"I have had an immensely fulfilling career and feel privileged to have worked with so many great musicians and orchestras but now I have to move on."

His last album, A Tale of Two Cellos was a compilation of more than 20 duets for two cellos and piano and featured Lloyd Webber performing with his wife, Jiaxin Cheng.

His final concert as a performer is to take place at the Forum Theatre, Malvern, with the English Chamber Orchestra on 2 May.

"After 2 May, my cello will fall silent," he said, adding he had "no intention of enduring a forced retirement".

"I would like to use the knowledge I have gained through my life as a musician and an educator to give back as much as I can to the music profession which has given me so much over the years," he said.

He added he needed "time to reflect and to consider this sudden and distressing life-changing situation".


Image copyright PA
Image caption Lloyd Webber was the first legal busker on the London underground

Lloyd Webber made his professional debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in 1972 when he gave the first London performance of the Cello Concerto by Sir Arthur Bliss.

His Brit award-winning Elgar Cello Concerto, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin was selected by BBC Music Magazine as the finest ever version.

In May 2001, he was granted the first busker's licence on the London Underground.

"It is good to have variety in life," Lloyd Webber said at the time. "I like to play to people but the next stop will be the Royal Albert Hall."

His older brother, musical impresario Lord Lloyd-Webber, paid tribute, saying he "had known of Julian's difficulties for some while and, like him, I was hoping this would not come to pass.

"Music has lost one of its finest performers."

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