André Previn, composer and renowned conductor, died at the age of 89: Two-way: NPR


André Previn on a photo taken in 1979 in London. Previn died on February 28, 2019 in Manhattan, at the age of 89.

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André Previn on a photo taken in 1979 in London. Previn died on February 28, 2019 in Manhattan, at the age of 89.

Keystone / Keystone / Getty Images

André Previn, a famous musical polymath, died Thursday morning; He has been a composer of Oscar-winning film music, conductor, pianist and music director of major orchestras. Her manager, Linda Petrikova, confirmed to NPR that he had died at his home in Manhattan.

Previn wrote a tune in the 1950s. In the language of the day, he called it "Like Young". His Hollywood friend, the great lyricist Ira Gershwin, was critical. "You do not know it should be it"As Young? "Asked Gershwin, Previn loved this story, that of jazz.

Tim Page, a former music critic and professor of journalism and music at the University of Southern California, winner of a Pulitzer Prize, said that jazz was only one of sides of this multi-talented artist. "He's really distinguished in so many areas, he was not one of those people who came in and shook a field forever," said Page.

Previn started his musical life "as a youngster". Andreas Ludwig Priwin, born in Berlin on April 6, 1929, he grew up in Los Angeles. His family fled to Germany in 1938 and first settled in Paris and then in New York before landing in Hollywood. A great teenager, he played piano at the Rhapsody Theater, improvising scores during silent film screenings.


"There was one of those huge silent epics that continued to wobble allegorically between biblical times and the roaring twenties, so I really had to be careful," Previn told NPR. Weekend Edition in 1991. "But I noticed that every time they changed their place, they would stay there for a while, so we came out of a biblical time and we went back to Charleston people." taking their life aside, and I thought, "Well, I'm safe for a few minutes. This is how I started playing "Tiger Rag", and I heard a rumor in the audience, and the manager rushed into the driveway. , which was a bad choice. And I was on the sidewalk about three minutes later. "

At the age of 16, in 1944, MGM hired Previn to work on talking music. His book No major agreements is full of stories about these Hollywood years. Page remembers one of Cleveland's famous orchestra leaders, George Szell, who wanted to see how Previn would play with the orchestra.

There was no piano at hand. So, in Page's story, Szell said, "Play it on the table top."

Ridiculous, thought Previn. But he went from the front. Then Szell began to give instructions: "" Slowly. Faster. More tender. "It went on like this," said Page. "And finally, Previn had enough and said:" I'm sorry, Maestro, my home board has a very different action. "

George Szell threw it out. Previn started making music on real instruments again – and writing it too. He has composed chamber music, concertos and operas, notably in the staging of the Tennessee Williams play in 1998. A streetcar named desire.

streetcar premiered in San Francisco with soprano Renée Fleming playing Blanche DuBois. The composer once told Robert Siegel of NPR that All things Considered how he is prepared for the answers to his new job.

"Well, I prepared myself by rereading magazines, for example, from the opening of Carmen"Said Previn to Siegel, referring to the infamous beginning of Bizet's now-classic opera.

"It was a disaster, apparently – a flop." answered Siegel.

"Oh, yes, Total," Previn admitted.

(European critics liked streetcar; The American reaction has been mixed.)

André Previn has been musical director of the Houston and Pittsburgh Symphonies and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as principal conductor of the London and Royal Philharmonic Orchestras, and has regularly performed as a guest conductor around the world. Page indicates that one can rely on Previn for the good performance of all the podiums. But this long list of orchestras led by Previn tells you a lot about the conductor.

"I suppose that says a few things," observes Page. "First, it suggests that he was very interested in playing around the world, and he worked with some very good orchestras." On the other hand, there's never been that kind of huge connection with an orchestra we have with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, as well as George Szell and Cleveland. "

Problems of engagement, perhaps? Not only did not Previn enter into any marriage agreement with an orchestra, but he has been married five times. His ex-women were jazz singer Betty Bennett, who sang with major bands including Stan Kenton, Woody Herman and Benny Goodman; singer-songwriter Dory Previn, with whom he co-wrote the theme of the 1967 film The valley of the dolls; actress Mia Farrow; Heather Sneddon, to whom he remained married for 20 years; and finally one of the world's most renowned concert violinists, Anne-Sophie Mutter, for whom he wrote his first violin concerto, which he baptized "Anne-Sophie". (They divorced in 2006.)


Previn won four Oscars for his cinematic work, especially for the adaptation of the score of the film version of My beautiful lady. He has also won 10 Grammy Awards for his cinematographic, jazz and classical recordings, as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009; he also received a Kennedy Center award in 1998. This versatile and talented musician was so talented. But Page says his best work was far from the concert stage.

"As good as his high classical music is," said Page, "I'm not sure he's ever done a better job than that of jazz pianist and film writer." there is no shame in that – I think [it’s] really good jazz piano. And he was so musical, so lyrical and so inventive – it's a real feat. "

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