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Previn, André


PREVIN, ANDRÉ (George; 1929– ), conductor, composer, and pianist. Born in Berlin, Previn studied piano at the Berlin Conservatory as a child; subsequently his family moved to Paris, where he continued his studies at the Paris Conservatoire and then, in 1939, to California. At the age of 16, he joined the music department of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios in Hollywood, where he was to gain four Academy Awards for original film scores and orchestrated more than 60 other film scores. He studied conducting with Pierre *Monteux and composition with Joseph *Achron and Mario *Castelnuovo-Tedesco. Well known as a jazz pianist, he also made appearances as concerto soloist with various American orchestras and worked with musicians such as Benny *Goodman, Herb Ellis, Shorty Rogers, Pete Rugolo, Jackie Cain and Roy Kral, and Ella Fitzgerald. In 1945 he made his first recording, for the Sunset label, and his early recordings for rca in 1947 brought him considerable success. In 1961 he received a Grammy Award for the album André Previn Plays Harold Arlen. In 1964, an engagement as conductor with the Houston Symphony Orchestra led to his appointment as its chief conductor (1967–68); from that time he conducted most of the major American and European orchestras. His association with the London Symphony Orchestra, which began with a recording of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony in 1965, resulted in his appointment as its principal conductor in 1968. He made many recordings with the orchestra and led it on numerous world tours. Previn often appeared as a chamber pianist, especially during London's South Bank Summer Music Festival, of which he was artistic director in 1972 and 1973. As a conductor, he was noted for his advocacy of British and Russian music, particularly works by Vaughan Williams, Walton, and Rachmaninov. As a composer, his works other than film scores include a piano suite (1967), a cello concerto (1968), and a guitar concerto (first performance, London, 1971). He also collaborated with Alan Jay *Lerner on a Broadway musical based on the life of "Coco" Chanel (1969). In the late 1980s he revived his jazz career with the album After Hours (1989), as part of a trio consisting of Joe Pass and Ray Brown. He made further jazz recordings in the 1990s (such as Old Friends (1991) and Jazz at the Musikverein (1995)) and published an autobiography, No Minor Chords: My Days in Hollywood (1991).

add. bibliography:

Grove Music Online; M. Bookspan and R. Yockey, André Previn: a Biography (Garden City, n.y., 1981); M. Freedland: André Previn (1991).

[Max Loppert /

Israela Stein (2nd ed.)]

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