If the word “eclectic” did not carry pejorative overtones, it would perfectly suit the rich musical personality of André Previn. Conductor, pianist and composer, André Previn was born in Germany in 1929. Like many artists, intellectuals, Jews or straightforward opponents to Hitler’s regime, he fled his homeland to escape the Nazis and grew up in Los Angeles where he cultivated his multiple gifts for music.
He soon became an American citizen in 1943. Following Korngold and Schoenberg’s example, Previn arranged and composed film music for the Hollywood studios, which won him several Oscars. As a jazz pianist, he accompanied Ella Fitsgerald and his album, My Fair Lady, (1956) was a resounding success. His musical talents are not limited to the piano. Appointed conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1967, he has conducted numerous international orchestras, (London, Los Angeles...). From 2002 to 2006, he was the musical director of the Oslo Philharmonic. To each of these orchestras, André Previn has conveyed his passion for all styles of music from Beethoven to Jazz and opera to musicals.
His career as a conductor has greatly influenced his composition. He wrote his first opera, A Tramway Named Desire, premiered in San Francisco in 1998 and has composed numerous concertos, (dedicated to the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy and the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter) blending all the different influences he has acquired. Talent of such dimension as André Previn’s is not scarce in the United States. Like Leonard Bernstein, he has encompassed and blended all aspects of music never attempting to specialise or arbitrarily divide different musical practices.
© Harald Hoffmann / DG
At the Teatro Bibiena in Mantua