Julian Lloyd Webber, 63, is one of the world’s greatest cello players. He talks to Roger Crow about his involvement with new film Dvorak - In Love?, coming to terms with retirement, and plans for the future - without his cello.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH THE FILM, DVORAK - IN LOVE?
Well, it’s a long time ago now - 1988 I think it was. The Dvorak Concerto is regarded as the king of cello pieces really; it’s the greatest concerto, and this was actually recorded in the hall that it would have first been performed in, so it was an extraordinary feeling for me because it’s the kind of thing you dream of doing as a student, and are not sure if something like that would ever happen. But there I am in Prague in the hall where the piece was first heard, in 18... something, and recording it with a Czech Philharmonic. It was just amazing, and basically the film is around that.
HOW DID PRAGUE CHANGE BETWEEN THE 1980S AND YOUR LATER VISITS?
The fascinating thing for me was that was my first visit to Prague and it was in the Communist regime. Having made the recording, I went back roughly two years later. And then of course the whole city had changed.
HOW DOES ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST CELLO PLAYERS HANDLE RETIREMENT?
I certainly don’t want to sit around thinking about the past, it’s not my style. I don’t sit and listen to my old recordings, I just don’t do that. I’m always someone who wants to move on, and I think what happened [the herniated disc], you have to look at it as... well, it was horrible at the time, it really was and I knew last October that I had a major problem, and it was very sudden when it happened, but I kind of soldiered on. I could have gone on playing very gentle pieces forever, but that’s not what I wanted to do.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE PLAYING AT THE OLYMPICS 2012 CLOSING CEREMONY?
Extraordinary, and as a Leyton Orient supporter, I was glad to be playing there before West Ham.
DO YOU COLLABORATE MUCH WITH YOUR BROTHER, ANDREW?
We haven’t collaborated much, but we did do the Variations. It remains the only piece he’s ever written which doesn’t have words, which is quite interesting. I’ve always tried to go to his shows, though when we do talk, it’s most often about football. We’re both Leyton Orient supporters.
lJulian Lloyd Webber features in Tony Palmer’s film Dvorak - In Love? available now on DVD.