André Previn is a highly successful German-American musician. A recipient of several lifetime achievement awards, Previn is known for his highly versatile orchestral compositions, as well as his piano recitals. Previn is also known for his film scores and jazz compositions, thus making him one of the most well known figures in the music industry.
André George Previn was born to a Jewish family in Berlin, Germany. His year of birth remains to be a subject of debate, while he himself states that he was born in 1930. His family escaped Nazi Germany in 1939 and found respite in Los Angeles, where his great uncle worked as a music director for Universal Studios. Both his father and his uncle were instrumental in inspiring Previn to take up a career in music, his father having taught him how to play the piano while he was only a child. His father also taught him basic lessons in composition. Even with such primitive knowledge, Previn took to writing film scores as early as 1948, just two years after his high school graduation. He first worked as an adaptor to personalities like Frederick Loewe and Marguerite Monnot for films like ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘Gigi’, and ‘Irma la Douce’ between 1946 and 1969. In 1951, he also took lessons in conducting and composition from Pierre Monteux, the famous conductor known for conducting many of Igor Stravinsky’s pieces. His first original film score came in 1955 for “The Sun Comes Up”. He would go on to write soundtracks for highly successful movies like ‘Fight Club’ and “It’s Always Fair Weather”. He also made his name as a contemporary jazz pianist, touring and recording with artists like Shelly Manne and Leroy Vinnegar. One of his most celebrated contributions was his collaboration with Julie Andrews to produce the Christmas carols collection. Previn was also keen on recording compositions by legendary composers such as George Gershwin and Mozart. Many of his recordings were in collaborations with violinists and cellists, thereby producing scores of recordings in contemporary classical music. Whilst in the jazz genre, he worked as a trio pianist with bass and drums. Previn is also credited for his spectacular work as a conductor. He first succeeded John Barbirolli as the music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1967. After having worked there for a year, he then conducted for the famous London Symphony Orchestra for a period of eleven years. He was also credited as principal conductor for the Pittsburg Symphony Orchestra for a year. He then served terms at the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His time as principal conductor for various orchestras also gave Previn the opportunity to broadcast his performances on television, some were even done in weekly broadcasts like “André Previn’s Music Night”.
Previn has been extremely decorated for his work, he was nominated a total of thirteen times for the academy awards for his film scores, he won four times. In addition to the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, he also has ten other Grammy Awards to his name in various disciplines, including best instrumental soloist and best jazz performance. Having received several honors from various musical institutes and centers, Previn’s supreme versatility in composition has earned him the title of one of the greatest minds to ever embark upon music.