André Previn

André Previn

André Previn (Andreas Ludwig Priwin) KBE (b. April 6 1929, Berlin) [Previn himself is unsure in which year he was born, as his birth certificate was lost upon emigration to the United StatesNonspecific|date=July 2007] is a German-born American Academy Award and Grammy Award winning pianist, conductor, and composer. He first came to prominence by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores in 1948.


André Previn was born to a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany. His brother was the late director Steve Previn (1925-1993). With his family, he emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape the Nazi Regime in Germany. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1943, and grew up in Los Angeles. At his Summer 1946 graduation from Beverly Hills High School Previn played a musical duet with Richard M. Sherman: Previn played the piano, accompanying Sherman (who played flute). Coincidentally, twenty one years later, both composers won Oscars for different films, both winning in musical categories.

In 1967, Previn became 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 television in the programme "André Previn's Music Night". From 1976-1984, Previn was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and in turn had another television series with the PSO titled "Previn and the Pittsburgh". He was also principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1984, he was named music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, officially taking over the position in 1985. While 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 the box office. Previn clashed frequently with Ernest Fleischmann (the orchestra's Executive VP and General Manager), most notably when Fleischmann had failed to consult him before deciding to name 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 Because of Previn's objections, Salonen's title and Japanese tour were withdrawn; however, shortly thereafter in April 1989, Previn resigned as Music Director. [cite news | title=The Tyrant of Philharmonic | work=Los Angeles Times | author=Martin Bernheimer | date=1989-10-08] Four months later, Salonen was named Music Director Designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, officially taking the post of Music Director in October 1992.

Previn's many recordings include the three complete ballets of 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.

Previn has composed film scores and other musical works including a cello concerto and a guitar concerto. 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", but 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 the mid-to-late 1950s, and more recently, he 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 (album)"). Andre Previn made two albums with Dinah Shore as arranger, conductor, and accompanist in 1960 and made several appearances on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show in the early 1960s. 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.

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 numerous other classical works include vocal, chamber, and orchestral music. Occasionally he has made recordings of jazz music on the Telarc label.

In the United Kingdom, where he was knighted in 1996, he is particularly remembered for his performance as "Mr Andrew Preview" (or "Privet") on the "Morecambe and Wise" comedy show in 1971, which involved his conducting a spoof performance of Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto, with Eric Morecambe as soloist. Because of other commitments, the only time available for Previn to learn his 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. It is still voted one of the funniest comedy moments of all time.

Personal life

Andre Previn has been married five times. His first three marriages, to Betty Bennett, to Dory Langdon, and then to Mia Farrow, kept him in the public eye. After his fourth marriage (to Heather Sneddon in 1982) ended in 2002, Previn wed the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and later wrote a violin concerto for her. They divorced in 2006.

Previn has mentioned in the liner notes of the program printed for his appearance as guest conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra during the 2006-2007 season that his year of birth is 1930, and not 1929 as many sources claim.

Previn wrote a memoir of his early Hollywood years, "No Minor Chords", published in 1991.

Previn is the father-in-law of director Woody Allen through the director's marriage to Farrow and Previn's adopted daughter Soon Yi after his own divorce from Farrow.

elected works

*"The Good Companions" (1974) - a musical with words by Johnny Mercer - West End in London, England, not Broadway
*"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

* "The Music Lovers" (1970)
* "Paint Your Wagon" (1969)
* "Inside Daisy Clover" (1965)
* "Two for the Seesaw" (1962)
* "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" (1961)
* "Bells Are Ringing" (1960)
* "Elmer Gantry" (1960)
* "Silk Stockings" (1957)
* "It's Always Fair Weather" (1955)
* "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1954)
* "Kiss Me, Kate" (1953)
* "Three Little Words" (1950)
* "The Secret Garden" (1949)

* "Previn and the Pittsburgh (1977)

Awards and recognitions

Previn received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 in recognition for his contributions to classical music and opera in the United States. He was appointed an honorary Knight of the Order of British Empire in 1996. As he is not a citizen of a Commonwealth Realm, he is not entitled to the form "Sir André Previn", however he is entitled to use the post-nominal letters KBE. In 2005, Previn was awarded the International Glenn Gould Prize in recognition of his achievements. His television show, "Previn and the Pittsburgh" was thrice nominated for Emmy awards.

Previn also won the 2008 Gramophone Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in classical, film, and jazz music. [cite web |url= |title=Lifetime win for composer Revin |accessdate=2008-10-01 |publisher=BBC |date=2008-09-26]

Academy Awards

Previn has received thirteen Academy nominations, with four Oscar wins.

;Best Original Musical or Comedy Score
*1958 "Gigi"
*1959 "Porgy & Bess"
*1963 "Irma la Douce"
*1964 "My Fair Lady"

Grammy Awards

;Best Instrumental Soloist
*2005 "Previn: Violin Concerto"; "Bernstein: Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion"

;Best Classical Crossover Album
*2003 Korngold: "The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood" with the London Symphony Orchestra

;Best Chamber Music Performance
*1999 "American Scenes: Copland, Previn, Barber, Gershwin"

;Best Choral Performance"'
*1974 William Walton: "Belshazzar's Feast" with the London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
*1977 Rachmaninoff: "The Bells" with the London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

;Best Performance by an Orchestra
*1960 "Like Young" with the David Rose Orchestra

;Best Sound Track Album
*1959 "Gigi"
*1960 "Porgy and Bess"

;Best Jazz Performance - Soloist or Small Group
*1961 "West Side Story"
*1962 "Previn Plays Harold Arlen"


External links

*André Previn [ official website]
* [ Biography from IMG Artists]
*ibdb name|12263
*imdb name|0006238
*André Previn [ Discography]
* [ Encyclopaedia Britannica, Andre Previn - full access article]
* [ Audio (.ram file) of a 1972 interview for the BBC]


* [ Rehearsing the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra in Beethovens' 7th symphony]
* [ Rehearsing the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra in Glinka's "Russlan and Ludmilla" overture]
* [ Rehearsing the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra in Rachmaninov's "Symphonic Dances" ]
* [ The Morecambe and Wise Grieg sketch: extracts and interviews]

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