André George Previn, KBE (born Andreas Ludwig Priwin; April 6, 1929) is an American pianist, conductor, and composer. He is considered one of the most versatile musicians in the world, and is the winner of four Academy Awards for his film work and ten Grammy Awards for his recordings.
Previn was born in Berlin, Germany , the son of Charlotte (née Epstein) and Jack Previn, who was a lawyer, judge, and music teacher. He is a distant relative of the composerGustav Mahler. The year of his birth is uncertain. Whilst most published reports give 1929, Previn himself has stated that 1930 is his birth year. This situation is because the family lost Previn’s birth certificate when they left Germany in 1938. His elder brother was director Steve Previn. The Previn family, which was Jewish, emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime in Germany.
“It Could Happen To You”
In 1939, his family moved to Los Angeles, where his great-uncle, Charles Previn, was music director of Universal Studios. André grew up in Los Angeles and became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1943. At Previn’s 1946 graduation from Beverly Hills High School he played a musical duet with Richard M. Sherman; Previn played the piano, accompanying Sherman (who played flute). He first came to prominence by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores in 1948. Coincidentally, 21 years later, both composers won Oscars for different films, both winning in musical categories. In the mid-to-late 1950s, and more recently, Previn toured and recorded as a jazz pianist. In the 1950s, mainly recording for Contemporary Records, he worked with Shelly Manne,Leroy Vinnegar, Benny Carter, and others. An album he recorded with Manne and Vinnegar of songs from My Fair Lady was a best-seller (see My Fair Lady (Shelly Manne album)). As a solo jazz pianist, Previn largely devoted himself to interpreting the works of major songwriters such as Jerome Kern, Frederick Loewe, Vernon Duke, and Harold Arlen. Previn made two albums with Dinah Shore as arranger, conductor, and accompanist in 1960, and another, the unjustly neglected “Duet”, with Doris Day in 1961. He made appearances onThe Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford as well as The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. He collaborated with Julie Andrews on a collection of Christmas carols in 1966, focusing on rarely heard carols. This popular album has been reissued many times over the years and is now available on CD. His main influences as a jazz pianist include Art Tatum,Oscar Peterson, and Horace Silver. Previn has also recorded classical piano compositions by Mozart, Gershwin, Poulenc, Shostakovich, and others.
“Laura” -Remember these recordings from the 1960’s with full string orchestras. It was funny then – its funny still, though lovely.
In 1967, Previn succeeded John Barbirolli as music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. In 1968, Previn began his tenure as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), serving in that post until 1979. During his LSO tenure, he and the LSO appeared on the BBC Television programme André Previn’s Music Night. From 1976 to 1984, Previn was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and in turn had another television series with the PSO entitled Previn and the Pittsburgh. He was also principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1985 to 1988.
In 1985, he became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Although Previn’s tenure with the orchestra was musically satisfactory, other conductors including Kurt Sanderling, Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, did a better job at selling out concerts. Previn clashed frequently with Ernest Fleischmann (the orchestra’s Executive VP and General Manager), most notably when Fleischmann failed to consult him before naming Salonen as Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra, complete with a tour of Japan. Because of Previn’s objections, Salonen’s title and Japanese tour were withdrawn; however, shortly thereafter, in April 1989, Previn resigned. Four months later, Salonen was named Music Director Designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, officially taking the post of Music Director in October 1992.
“What’s This Thing Called Love” (not sure what all the silly photos are about, but listen to this guy tear up the piano!! Phenomenal, understated jazz pianist!
Previn has composed film scores and other musical works, including concertos for piano, violin, cello, and guitar. He has also adapted and conducted the music for several films, some of them stage-to-film adaptations, such as My Fair Lady, Kismet, Porgy and Bess, and Paint Your Wagon. Several were written especially for film, including the Academy Award-winning Gigi. Several of the film scores were collaborations with his second wife, Dory Previn.
In later years, he has concentrated on composing classical music. He collaborated with Tom Stoppard on Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a play with substantial musical content, which was first performed in London in 1977 with Previn conducting the LSO. His first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 1998. His second opera, Brief Encounter, based on the 1945 movie of the same name, was premiered at Houston Grand Opera on May 1, 2009. His numerous other classical works include vocal, chamber, and orchestral music.
Previn’s many recordings include the three ballets of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker), and the complete symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, all with the LSO. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he made other recordings of music by Sergei Prokofiev (most notably, the Symphonies 1 and 5, the score to Alexander Nevsky, and the Symphony-Concerto for Cello & Orchestra with Heinrich Schiff as soloist), symphonies and other pieces by Antonín Dvořák, and works by contemporary composers including William Kraft, John Harbison, and Harold Shapero. His recordings of works by Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, William Walton, and Shostakovichhave been particularly prized.
He has made jazz recordings in two periods of his career: in the 1950s and early 1960s and then again since the 1980s. With bassist David Finck he has recorded a collection ofGeorge Gershwin standards (“We Got Rhythm: Gershwin Songbook”) and Duke Ellington classics (“We Got It Good & That Ain’t Bad: an Ellington Songbook”), both on theDeutsche Grammophon label. Previn became known to a broad public through his television work. In the United Kingdom, he worked on TV with the London Symphony Orchestra. In the United States, “Previn and the Pittsburgh” showed him in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Previn is particularly remembered in Britain for his performance as “Mr. Andrew Preview” (or “Privet”) on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in 1971, which involved his conducting a performance of Edvard Grieg‘s Piano Concerto with Eric Morecambe as the comically-inept soloist. (At one point “Mr Preview” accuses Eric Morecambe of playing the wrong notes; Eric retorts that he has been playing “the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.”) Because of other commitments, the only time available for Previn to learn his Morecambe and Wise part was during a transatlantic flight, but the talent he showed for comedy won high praise from his co-performers. At a concert in Britain afterwards, Previn had to stop the playing of the concerto to allow the audience time to stop giggling as they remembered the sketch. Previn himself notes that people still recall the sketch years later in the UK, where “Taxi drivers still call me Mr Preview”.
“I’ll String Along With You.”
Previn has been married five times. His first three marriages, to Betty Bennett (with whom he had two children), to Dory Langdon, and then to Mia Farrow, kept him in the public eye. Previn and Farrow had three biological children, twins Matthew and Sascha, born February 26, 1970, and Fletcher, born March 14, 1974. In 1973 and 1976, respectively, Previn and Farrow adopted Vietnamese infants Lark Song and Summer “Daisy” Song (born October 6, 1974). Lark died on Christmas Day of 2008. He is also the adoptive father of Soon-Yi Previn, who was adopted from Korea at age 8 (born October 8, 1970). After his fourth marriage (to Heather Sneddon in 1982, with whom he had one child) ended in 2002, Previn wed the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and later wrote a violin concerto for her. They divorced in 2006, but remain on amicable terms and have continued to work together in concerts. Previn wrote a memoir of his early years in Hollywood, No Minor Chords, which was published in 1991.
….and my favorite, “Skylark”
Previn has received a total of thirteen Academy Award nominations, winning in 1958, 1959, 1963 and 1964. He is one of few composers to accomplish the feat of winning back-to-back Oscars, and one of only two to do so on two occasions (the other being Alfred Newman). In 1970 he was nominated for a Tony Award as part of Coco‘s nomination for Best Musical. In 1977 he became an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. The 1977 television show Previn and the Pittsburgh was nominated for three Emmy awards. Previn was appointed an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1996. (Not being a citizen of a Commonwealth Realm, he may use only the post-nominal letters KBE and not the title “Sir André”.) Previn received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 in recognition of his contributions to classical music and opera in the United States. In 2005 he was awarded the international Glenn Gould Prize and in 2008 won Gramophone magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in classical, film, and jazz music. In 2010, the Recording Academy honored Previn with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.
- Best Music – Scoring of a Musical Picture
- Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment
- 1974 William Walton: Belshazzar’s Feast with the London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
- 1977 Rachmaninoff: The Bells with the London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
List of compositions
- Rollerball (1975)
- The Music Lovers (1970)
- Paint Your Wagon (1969)
- Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)
- Inside Daisy Clover (1965)
- Dead Ringer (1964)
- My Fair Lady (1964)
- Two for the Seesaw (1962)
- Long Day’s Journey into Night (1962)
- Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1961)
- Bells Are Ringing (1960)
- Elmer Gantry (1960)
- The Subterraneans (1960)
- Porgy & Bess (1959)
- Gigi (1958)
- Silk Stockings (1957)
- It’s Always Fair Weather (1955)
- Bad Day at Black Rock (1954)
- The Girl Who Had Everything (1953)
- Kiss Me Kate (1953)
- Three Little Words (1950)
- The Secret Garden (1949)
- Concerto for Cello (1960)
- Guitar Concerto (1960)
- Piano Concerto (1985)
- Violin Concerto (2001)
- Double Concerto for Violin and Double Bass (2004)
- Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello (2008)
- Clarinet Sonata (Prague, 2010)
- The Good Companions (1974) – a musical with lyrics by Johnny Mercer – London’s West End
- Coco (1969) – a musical with words by Alan Jay Lerner
- A Party with Betty Comden & Adolph Green (1958) – a revue with Previn as featured songwriter
- Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (2009–10) – a play for actors and orchestra by Tom Stoppard and André Previn – National Theatre (UK)
- My Fair Lady (1956)
- Double Play! (1957)
- Pal Joey (1957)
- Gigi (1958)
- André Previn Plays Songs by Vernon Duke (1958)
- André Previn Plays Songs By Jerome Kern (1959)
- King Size! (1959)
- West Side Story (1959)
- Like Previn! (1960)
- André Previn Plays Songs by Harold Arlen (1960)
- Duet (1962)
- Nice Work if You Can Get It (1983) with Ella Fitzgerald
- After Hours (1989)
- Uptown (1990)
- Old Friends (1992)
- Kiri Sidetracks: The Jazz Album (1992)
- Alone: Ballads for Solo Piano (2007)
Sources: Wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com, nmdb.com
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