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Andre Previn: Jazz Pianist, Classical Pianist, Conductor, Composer

Sep 9, 2008
Andre Previn is a German-born pianist, conductor, and composer. From arranging and composing Hollywood film scores to his multiple marriages which sparked many musical inspirations, Andre Previn's life was never dull.

Andre Previn is a German-born pianist, conductor, and composer. Born April 6, 1929, in Berlin, Previn was born to a Jewish family. In 1939, the Previn family immigrated to the United States; however, Previn did not become a citizen of the United States until 1943. At his high school graduation from Beverly Hills High School in 1946, he played a duo with Richard M. Sherman, who played the flute.

From 1950's until recently, Previn has recorded and toured as a jazz pianist. He has worked with Shelly Manne, Benny Carter, Dinah Shore, and Julie Andrews over the course of his career. Previn frequently appeared on The Dinah Shore Chevy Show in the 1960's. In 1966, Julie Andrews and Andre Previn collaborated on a Christmas carol album.

About 21 years after his high school graduation, the Houston Symphony Orchestra was in the market for a new music director. Previn soon filled that need. However, the London Symphony Orchestra wanted him, too. In 1968, Andre Previn became the tenured principal conductor with the London Symphony Orchestra, and he served there for 11 years. During his time with the London Symphony orchestra, he appeared on a television program called "Andre Previn's Music Night."

Although he was tenured with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra needed a music director. Previn decided to take on that role as well from 1976 though 1984. Working with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, another television program was born, "Previn and the Pittsburgh." During this time, he worked with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as their principal conductor. The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra named Andre Previn as their music director, but he resigned from that strenuous role in April 1989.

Previn's first opera performance was A Streetcar Named Desire, which premiered in 1998 at the San Francisco Opera. Following the opera, Previn focused on vocal, chamber, and orchestral music with the occasional recordings of jazz.

Previn adapted and conducted many arrangements in the Hollywood spectrum. He did stage-to-screen adaptations for My Fair Lady, Kismet, Porgy and Bess, and Paint Your Wagon. From 1949 through 1970, Previn assisted with music in the following films: The Music Lovers, Inside Daisy Clover, Two for the Seesaw, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Bells are Ringing, Elmer Gantry, Silk Stockings, It's Always Fair Weather, Bad Day at the Black Rock, Kiss Me Kate, Three Little Words, and The Secret Garden. Gigi, the 1958 Academy Award winning film, also featured many special works from Previn.

Previn, like many other amazing, multitalented artists, has received many acknowledgements and awards. Among his personal awards, he has received 13 Academy nominations and four Oscar victories. He also holds seven Grammy Awards. Andre Previn became an honorary Knight of the Order of British Empire in 1996; however, due to lack of citizenship in the Commonwealth, the title of "sir" cannot appear before his name. He instead puts the letters KBE with his name to indicate the honor.

In 1998, Previn received the Kennedy Center Honors for his classical music and opera contributions. 2005 marked the year that Previn received the International Glenn Gloud Prize for his achievements. On May 13, 2008, Previn received the London Symphony Orchestra's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Andre Previn is still touring. In April 2008, he performed in Rome at Italy's Accademia Nazionale Santa Cecilia. In June Previn performed with the London Symphony Orchestra and Anne Sophie Mutter in London at the Barbican Hall. Even at the age of 79, Andre Previn KBE is still as active in the music genre as ever.
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