Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

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jserraglio
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Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by jserraglio » Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:37 pm

The cinema/jazz/classical-music giant is dead at 89.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17342940

jserraglio
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by jserraglio » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:39 pm

Here's the NY Times obituary:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/28/obit ... at-89.html

André Previn, Whose Music Knew No Boundaries, Dies at 89

Image
André Previn in 1965. He conducted, composed, played jazz piano and scored movies in a musical life that spurned categories.

By James Barron
Feb. 28, 2019

André Previn, who blurred the boundaries between jazz, pop and classical music — and between composing, conducting and performing — in an extraordinarily eclectic, award-filled career, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by his manager, Linda Petrikova.

Mr. Previn wrote or arranged the music for several dozen movies and was the only person in the history of the Academy Awards to receive three nominations in one year — 1961, for the scores for “Elmer Gantry” and “Bells Are Ringing” and the song “Faraway Part of Town” from the comedy “Pepe.”

Audiences also knew him as a jazz pianist who appeared with Ella Fitzgerald, among others, and as a composer who turned out musicals, orchestral works, chamber music, operas and concertos for his fifth wife, the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.

Mr. Previn was also the music director or principal conductor of a half-dozen orchestras.

Critics described him as a “wunderkind in a turtleneck” and the “Mickey Mouse maestro” when he was in his 20s and 30s. He was often compared to Leonard Bernstein, a similarly versatile conductor, composer and pianist. Time magazine’s headline when Mr. Previn became the principal conductor of the London Symphony in 1968 was “Almost Like Bernstein.” Newsweek summarized Mr. Previn’s appointment as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1985 as “Bernstein West.”

Mr. Previn himself considered Bernstein an idol. “Bernstein has made it possible not to specialize in one area of music,” he said. “You no longer have to do just Broadway shows, or movies, or conduct — you can do any or all of them.”

And Mr. Previn did. In the 1960s, he appeared in sold-out classical and jazz concerts. Sometimes he combined genres, playing a concerto before intermission and jazz with a trio after. Dizzy Gillespie marveled at his performances. “He has the flow, you know, which a lot of guys don’t have and won’t ever get,” he said.

Mr. Previn made recordings with Benny Carter and Mahalia Jackson and an album of jazz arrangements of songs from “My Fair Lady” with the drummer Shelly Manne and the bass player Leroy Vinnegar. (Mr. Previn was later the conductor and music supervisor for the film version of “My Fair Lady.”) He also made two albums with Dinah Shore and recorded a collection of Christmas carols with Julie Andrews and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” with Andre Kostelanetz.

But the classical world was never comfortable with his work in jazz, and the jazz historian Ted Gioia said Mr. Previn had become “something of a popularizer of jazz rather than a serious practitioner” as he grew older.

Mr. Previn disdained all the labels. “I never considered myself a jazz musician,” he said in 1986, “but a musician who occasionally played jazz.”

A Start in Movies
He was born Andreas Ludwig Prewin on April 6, 1929, in Berlin. After his parents realized he had perfect pitch — his father had been an amateur pianist in Berlin — André entered the Berlin Conservatory when he was 6. His father, Jacob, a Polish-born lawyer who was Jewish, moved the family to Paris in 1938 to escape the Nazis.

André studied with Marcel Dupré at the Paris Conservatory for about a year before the family left for Los Angeles. There, he studied with the composer and conductor Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, the violinist and composer Joseph Achron and the composer Ernst Toch. He soon recorded all the four-hand piano music of Mozart with the composer Lukas Foss, who was not quite seven years older than Mr. Previn.

Mr. Previn became an American citizen in 1943, and in 1950 he was drafted into the Army and served with the Sixth Army Band. He also studied conducting in San Francisco with Pierre Monteux, whom he later followed at the London Symphony.

A relative worked in the music department at Universal Studios, and Mr. Previn wrote music for movies even before he went into the Army. As a senior in high school, he was called in to help with “Holiday in Mexico,” a 1946 MGM musical that starred Walter Pidgeon and in which a young Fidel Castro was an extra. The script called for the concert pianist Jose Iturbi to play some jazz, but he was uncomfortable improvising and wanted a score to read. Mr. Previn went to a jam session, listened and wrote out a piano part for Mr. Iturbi to play when the cameras rolled.

MGM took notice and hired Mr. Previn to compose and conduct the music for “The Sun Comes Up,” starring Lassie and the once-illustrious actress Jeanette MacDonald, who was allergic to dogs. “Go figure that billing,” he once said.

Years after its premiere in 1949, he gave the movie a thumbs-down. “Like all Lassie pictures,” he said, “there was hardly any dialogue, but a lot of barking. I thought it was easy, but I have since put myself through the wringer of watching it on a television rerun, and it’s the most inept score you ever heard.”

But front-office executives realized that Mr. Previn could handle the deadlines that went with studio work, and they put him on what he called “an endless stream of cheap, fast movies.”

Not all his assignments fit that description. He collected Oscars for scoring “Gigi” (1959), “Porgy and Bess” (1960), “Irma La Douce” (1964) and “My Fair Lady” (1965). He did not write famous songs like “Summertime” and “I Could Have Danced All Night”; rather, he arranged and orchestrated them, creating the versions heard on the soundtracks.

Like Bernstein, Mr. Previn also tried Broadway. With Allan Jay Lerner, he wrote “Coco,” a musical about the designer Coco Chanel that starred Katharine Hepburn and ran for 329 performances in 1969 and 1970. He also wrote the music for “The Good Companions,” a musical with lyrics by Johnny Mercer that ran for 252 performances in London in 1974.

Presence on the Podium
Also like Bernstein, Mr. Previn was a crowd-pleaser as a conductor. Five years after his surprise appointment in London, the British magazine New Statesman complained that he had given the orchestra “a strong American accent: the big-screen sound, rich, loud and brilliant.” But it said his programs on the BBC — which prefigured by a few years the American public-television series “Previn and the Pittsburgh,” broadcast when he was the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony — had “clearly widened his box-office appeal.”

“Whereas Boulez looks boring and Boult looks bored,” the magazine said, referring to the prominent conductors Pierre Boulez and Adrian Boult, “Previn always seems to be enjoying himself.”

He remained principal conductor of the London Symphony until 1979; he was also the principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra from 1985 to 1988. In the United States, he held the Pittsburgh job from 1976 to 1984 and became music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1985.

Mr. Previn resigned in 1989, complaining that the orchestra’s managing director, Ernest Fleischmann, had maneuvered to bring in Esa-Pekka Salonen as his successor. “It has become obvious to me that there is no room for a music director,” Mr. Previn said when he quit. Mr. Salonen was named music director-designate a few months later.

An Operatic Turn
As he approached 70, Mr. Previn turned to opera, writing “A Streetcar Named Desire” to a libretto by Philip Littell based on the Tennessee Williams play. Renée Fleming sang the role of Blanche DuBois in the premiere with the San Francisco Opera in 1998, with Mr. Previn on the podium. Bernard Holland, reviewing the performance for The New York Times, wrote that “it sings very well.”

“There are angry clashes of harmony and key,” he added, “many Straussian gestures, sweet-as-honey popular melody and the kinds of corporate noodling and mumbling among the strings native to a Ligeti or a Penderecki.”

A recording with the San Francisco cast won the Grand Prix du Disque. Mr. Previn also won 10 competitive Grammys from 1958 to 2004, divided evenly between classical and nonclassical categories, and a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2010.

The second of his two operas was “Brief Encounter” (2007), with a libretto by John Caird based on Noël Coward’s screenplay for the 1945 David Lean film by that name.

Toward the end of his life, Mr. Previn seemed surprised at the interest in his compositions. ”I wrote a string quartet that I very diffidently mentioned to the Emerson Quartet,” he told the critic David Patrick Stearns in 2017. “And they said, ‘Where is it?’ I’m not used to that.”

In 2017, Ms. Fleming gave several performances of a song cycle he wrote, “Lyrical Yeats.” “These brief songs display Mr. Previn’s keen ear for the telling detail, for musical gestures that set a mood or conjure an image,” Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim wrote in The Times when Ms. Fleming sang them in a solo recital at Carnegie Hall.

In 2018, Ms. Mutter played “The Fifth Season,” which she and Carnegie Hall had commissioned. She described it as “rather lighthearted.”

“The Fifth Season” was “not a sonata,” she said, “but a one-movement work with jazz and Gypsy-like rhythmical elements — which starts with a fully improvisational cadenza.”

This year, Tanglewood had planned events to celebrate Mr. Previn’s 90th birthday, including a performance of the violin concerto with Ms. Mutter and, with Ms. Fleming and the Emerson quartet, the premiere of “Penelope,” by Mr. Previn and the playwright Tom Stoppard.

Mr. Previn wrote several books, including “Orchestra” (1979), a depiction of the lives of orchestral musicians, and a memoir of his movie experiences, “No Minor Chords: My Days in Hollywood” (1991).

Mr. Previn’s first wife, Betty Bennett, was a singer he had seen in San Francisco jazz clubs. They had two daughters, Claudia and Alicia, also known as Lovely (who became a violinist in the Irish band In Tua Nua), and divorced in 1958.

His second marriage was to Dory Langan, an MGM lyricist, who, after they separated, recorded several albums as a singer-songwriter under the name Dory Previn, many of them reflections on their breakup and its aftermath. Dory Previn died in 2012.

Their divorce in 1970 was prompted by a well-publicized affair that Mr. Previn had with the actress Mia Farrow, who had been a friend of Ms. Previn’s. Ms. Farrow left her husband, Frank Sinatra, and married Mr. Previn that same year. They had three children, Matthew and Sascha, who were twins, and Fletcher. They also adopted Summer Song, known as Daisy, and Soon-Yi, who married Woody Allen in 1997.

Mr. Previn’s fourth wife was Heather Haines Sneddon. They had a son, Lukas, in 1984, and divorced in 1999, the year he wrote the violin concerto for Ms. Mutter. He and Ms. Mutter married in 2002 and divorced in 2006 but continued to perform together.

“You know how people say that their marriage didn’t work?” he said in 2017. “With us, the divorce didn’t work. We call each other every day regardless of where we are. Maybe she’s in China and I’m in Cincinnati, but we find each other. It’s like being very best friends who have a romantic history.”

Complete information on his survivors was not immediately available.

Mr. Previn seemed puzzled that critics continued to mention his Hollywood past long after he had begun focusing mostly on classical music. “I haven’t done anything else since the mid-’60s,” he told The Times in 1991. “I think there’s a statute of limitations here.

“When I go to Tanglewood to teach, the kids don’t know I ever did anything else,” he continued. “Sometimes they see a movie on the late, late show, and they say, ‘Who is that?’ And then I have to confess that the man who manufactured harp glissandos for Esther Williams to dive to was actually me.”

Correction: Feb. 28, 2019
An earlier version of this obituary referred incorrectly to Mr. Previn’s daughter Alicia, also known as Lovely. Her mother is Mr. Previn’s first wife, Betty Bennett — not his second wife, Dory Langdan. The earlier version also misstated the year Mr. Previn became principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was 1985, not 1965.

Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.

A version of this article appears in print on March 1, 2019 of the New York edition.

jserraglio
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by jserraglio » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:44 pm


Belle
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by Belle » Thu Feb 28, 2019 3:57 pm

I've just awoken to this news. We hadn't heard from him in many years so I presumed he was disabled in some way. What a career! Maestro Previn did EVERYTHING. He was at MGM when still in his early 20s and here, in this excellent melody (words by his then wife Dory Previn) he demonstrates his familiarity with the magnificent arrangements of Conrad Salinger: (alas, not so well sung here). The words in this song and the clip itself might well be used to celebrate the life of Andre Previn.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9xPw8xRXg0

Rach3
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by Rach3 » Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:16 pm

Did he not also conduct the house band for awhile for NBC's "Tonight Show " , then hosted by Jack Parr, or first couple years with Carson ?

John F
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by John F » Fri Mar 01, 2019 3:25 am

No, the bandleader for Jack Paar was the unforgettable José Melis, who also wrote Paar's signature tune "IM4U." Previn did a lot of TV in England while he was music director of the London Symphony Orchestra, including the famous "André Preview" comedy sketch on the Morecambe & Wise Christmas show of 1971 that jserraglio has linked to. But not in the US.
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barney
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by barney » Fri Mar 01, 2019 7:40 am

I did love that Morecambe and Wise Grieg piano concerto - watched it twice! Sadly, didn't get to the part where the banjos have to play quietly.
Thanks.

maestrob
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by maestrob » Fri Mar 01, 2019 12:22 pm

A sad day for music. Previn was vastly underrated IMHO as a classical conductor. His Vaughan-Williams set of symphonies compares quite well with Sir Adrian's 2 sets, and Previn's opera "Streetcar" has had less recognition than it deserves. A fine, fine musician, I liked his early jazz albums as well.

Condolences to his family and friends.

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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by Lance » Sat Mar 02, 2019 1:46 am

Indeed, André Previn was a musical genius. I never collected his recordings voraciously, but have quite a few nonetheless as a conductor, pianist, and even a few of his jazz albums. No doubt I will be doing a radio tribute to him in the near future. I attended a concert at Tanglewood a few years ago when he led the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was a Beethoven sympnony, No. 2 or 4, as a I recall, but it didn't leave an impression as I thought it might. So many artists of our time are falling off the musical map.
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by Lance » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:29 pm

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81q ... UL436_.jpg

Interesting that this mega-set would be issued just about the time of André Previn's passing. I often wonder if record companies are aware of this kind of situation months in advance of "the end" to grow interest in the artist's repertoire. This is not particularly a set that I would consider acquiring. You?
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Belle
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by Belle » Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:34 pm

I'm guessing it's because he was almost 90.

What a gorgeous and gentle man he was; so erudite, full of admiration for others and with a great love of music. Look at his talk at the keyboard with Oscar Peterson; he was the very opposite of a Daniel Barenboim.

maestrob
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by maestrob » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:03 am

Lance wrote:
Sat Mar 02, 2019 5:29 pm
https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81q ... UL436_.jpg

Interesting that this mega-set would be issued just about the time of André Previn's passing. I often wonder if record companies are aware of this kind of situation months in advance of "the end" to grow interest in the artist's repertoire. This is not particularly a set that I would consider acquiring. You?
I've acquired many of Previn's recordings over the years, and my shelf space is limited, as you know, Lance. I'll not be acquiring the big box, then.

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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by Lance » Mon Mar 04, 2019 2:12 am

Among Previn's many recordings, the Vaughn Williams symphonies seems to be one of the hallmarks of his recorded legacy. What other recordings of his do people think are outstanding?
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mikealdren
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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by mikealdren » Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:37 am

For me, his two outstanding recordings are Rachmaninov Symphony No.2 (twice, the earlier one with cuts) and Walton Symphony No.1. Both are still arguably the best available.

Looking at the other recordings I have of his conducting, it's interesting how many have him as accompanist with singers and in concertos. He was also a very fine pianist of course.

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Re: Andre Previn 1929-2019 R.I.P.

Post by maestrob » Mon Mar 04, 2019 10:54 am

mikealdren wrote:
Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:37 am
For me, his two outstanding recordings are Rachmaninov Symphony No.2 (twice, the earlier one with cuts) and Walton Symphony No.1. Both are still arguably the best available.

Looking at the other recordings I have of his conducting, it's interesting how many have him as accompanist with singers and in concertos. He was also a very fine pianist of course.
Agree, Mike! That Walton is outstanding. He also recorded Rachmaninoff's second and third piano concerti with, of all people, Alicia De Larrocha. How she fit her small hands around that mighty music is a mystery to me, but she pulls it off. Previn recorded the concerti complete with Ashkenazy.

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