Monday 22 April 2019

Oscar-winning composer Andre Previn dies aged 89

Previn was a child prodigy whose family fled Nazi Germany.

Andre Previn, conducts the 15th symphony concert during the Lucerne Festival (Urs Flueeler/AP)
Andre Previn, conducts the 15th symphony concert during the Lucerne Festival (Urs Flueeler/AP)

Andre Previn has been hailed as a “one of a kind” musician after his death at the age of 89.

The Oscar-winning composer, who was once married to Mia Farrow, was best known for his work on films such as Gigi, Porgy And Bess and My Fair Lady.

He later turned his back on films to conduct orchestras and was principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1968 to 1979.

During this period he and the orchestra appeared on television in the programme Andre Previn’s Music Night.

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Previn with Mia Farrow (PA)

His appearance on the 1971 Morecambe And Wise Christmas Special is still among the most popular moments of British TV comedy history.

An accomplished jazz pianist, he proved to be versatile across musical genres and won 10 Grammys.

In 2010, he was presented with a lifetime achievement award by the Recording Academy.

Gareth Davies, chairman of the London Symphony Orchestra, said: “Like the majority of players in the present day LSO, Andre’s time as principal conductor had ended before I’d begun, but it was the stuff of legend and I was fortunate enough to be able to perform with him several times over the last 20 years.

“I will never forget hearing the 1970s recording of Previn conducting the LSO in Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony when I was about 15. It had me hooked.

“The sound, the phrasing, the passion. It changed the way I thought about orchestral music.

“When I got to play it a few years ago with Andre conducting, it was really a dream come true. Andre was one of a kind and a real friend to the LSO. We will all miss him.”

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(PA)

Previn stepped down as principal conductor after 11 years – the longest term at the time – becoming conductor laureate in 1992 and conductor emeritus in 2016.

A statement from the orchestra said: “As a pianist, conductor and composer, working in jazz, classical and film music, there was not a single area of music in which he did not excel.

“He will be deeply missed by everyone at the LSO and remembered with great affection.”

Andrew Marriner, principal clarinet at the orchestra and lifelong friend of Previn, said: “Andre’s music-making thrilled me long before I was lucky enough to play with him; but when I did, it was the extraordinary sound he conjured from an orchestra, unmistakably his own, that dazzled.”

He added: “Never one to suffer fools, his wicked sense of humour could be sharp, always hilarious.”

Previn was acclaimed for taking popular show and pop tunes and giving them a jazz twist and released jazz albums featuring the songs of George Gershwin, Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen.

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