André Previn

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About André Previn

Leonard Bernstein’s only rival as a fantastically gifted 20th-century musician in multiple genres was born Andreas Previn, into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1929. A piano-playing prodigy, he entered the Berlin Conservatoire when he was six years old, before the family escaped from Nazi Germany and settled in Los Angeles. There, Previn landed a job at MGM as an in-house composer-conductor: his arrangements for the screen musicals Irma la Douce and My Fair Lady won Oscars, and among his original scores were Bad Day at Black Rock and Elmer Gantry. Although Hollywood success had come easily, Previn’s instinct to stay hungry saw him developing parallel careers as a jazz pianist and classical conductor. From 1968, his nine years with the London Symphony Orchestra brought world fame, plus a stellar reputation in late-Romantic repertory (their recording of Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony is a classic) and English music (including a cycle of Vaughan Williams’ nine symphonies). Like Bernstein, Previn was a natural with television audiences, for several years fronting André Previn’s Music Night on BBC One and, back in America again, Previn and the Pittsburgh with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. In his later years he composed two operas, A Streetcar Named Desire and Brief Encounter, and a violin concerto for his fifth wife, German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Berlin, Germany
April 6, 1929
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