André Previn

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Andreas Ludwig Previn (Priwin)

Birthplace: Berlin, Deutschland
Immediate Family:

Son of Jacob Priwin and Charlotte Priwin
Ex-husband of Mia Farrow; <private> Lowe (Bennett); <private> Previn (Langdon); <private> Previn (Sneddon) and Anne-Sophie Mutter
Father of <private> Previn; <private> Previn; <private> Previn; <private> Allen (Previn); <private> Song and 1 other
Brother of Steve Priwin

Occupation: Pianist, Conductor, Composer
Managed by: Randy Schoenberg
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • ex-wife
    • <private> Previn
    • <private> Previn
    • <private> Previn
    • <private> Allen (Previn)
    • <private> Song
    • <private> Lowe (Bennett)
    • <private> Previn (Langdon)
    • <private> Previn (Sneddon)
    • father

About André Previn

André George Previn KBE (born Andreas Ludwig Priwin) is a German-born American pianist, conductor, and composer. He is a winner of several Academy Awards for his film work and Grammy Awards for his recordings.

Early life

Previn was born in Berlin, Germany, to a Jewish Russian family, a distant relative of the composer Gustav Mahler, although the exact year of his birth is ambiguous, as it is not absolutely certain whether the year was 1929 or 1930. Whilst most formal reports give 1929 as his birth year, Previn himself has stated that 1930 is his birth year. This situation is because the family lost Previn's birth certificate when they left Germany in 1938. Most published reports give 1929 as the birth year, for convenience. The Previn family emigrated to the United States in 1939 to escape the Nazi regime in Germany.

André (as he would be known) became a naturalised citizen of the United States in 1943, and grew up in Los Angeles. His elder brother was director Steve Previn. At André Previn's 1946 graduation from Beverly Hills High School he played a musical duet with Richard M. Sherman: Previn played the piano, accompanying Sherman (who played flute). He first came to prominence by arranging and composing Hollywood film scores in 1948. Coincidentally, twenty one years later, both composers won Oscars for different films, both winning in musical categories.

Work as a pianist

In the mid-to-late 1950s, and more recently, he toured and recorded as a jazz pianist. In the 1950s, mainly recording for Contemporary Records, he worked with Shelly Manne, Leroy Vinnegar, Benny Carter, and others. An album he recorded with Manne and Vinnegar of songs from My Fair Lady was a best-seller (see My Fair Lady (Shelly Manne album)). Andre Previn made two albums with Dinah Shore as arranger, conductor, and accompanist in 1960. He made appearances on The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford as well as The Dinah Shore Chevy Show. He collaborated with Julie Andrews on a collection of Christmas carols in 1966, focusing on rarely heard carols. This popular album has been reissued many times over the years, and is now available on CD.

Work as a conductor

In 1967, Previn became music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra. In 1968, Previn began his tenure as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), serving in that post until 1979. During his LSO tenure, he and the LSO appeared on the BBC Television programme André Previn's Music Night. From 1976 to 1984, Previn was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO), and in turn had another television series with the PSO titled Previn and the Pittsburgh. He was also principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 1984, he was named music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, effective in 1985. While Previn's tenure with the orchestra was musically satisfactory, other conductors including Kurt Sanderling, Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen, did a better job at selling out concerts. Previn clashed frequently with Ernest Fleischmann (the orchestra's Executive VP and General Manager), most notably when Fleischmann had failed to consult him before deciding to name Salonen as Principal Guest Conductor of the orchestra, complete with a tour of Japan. Because of Previn's objections, Salonen's title and Japanese tour were withdrawn; however, shortly thereafter, in April 1989, Previn resigned. Four months later, Salonen was named Music Director Designate of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, officially taking the post of Music Director in October 1992.


Previn has composed film scores and other musical works, including a cello concerto and a guitar concerto. He has also adapted and conducted the music for several films, some of them stage-to-film adaptations, such as My Fair Lady, Kismet, Porgy and Bess, and Paint Your Wagon. Several were written especially for film, including the Academy Award-winning Gigi. Several of the film scores were collaborations with his second wife, Dory Previn.

In later years, he has concentrated on composing classical music. He collaborated with Tom Stoppard on Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, a play with substantial musical content, which was first performed in London in 1977 with Previn conducting the LSO. His first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, premiered at the San Francisco Opera in 1998. His second opera, Brief Encounter, based on the 1945 movie of the same name, was premiered at Houston Grand Opera on May 1, 2009. His numerous other classical works include vocal, chamber, and orchestral music.


Previn's many recordings include the three ballets of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker), and the complete symphonies of Ralph Vaughan Williams, all with the LSO. With the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he made other recordings of music by Sergei Prokofiev (most notably, the Symphonies 1 and 5, the score to Alexander Nevsky, and the Symphony-Concerto for Cello & Orchestra with Heinrich Schiff as soloist), symphonies and other pieces by Antonín Dvořák, and works by contemporary composers including William Kraft, John Harbison, and Harold Shapero.

Occasionally he has made recordings of jazz. With bassist David Finck he has recorded a collection of George Gershwin standards ("We Got Rhythm: Gershwin Songbook") and Duke Ellington classics ("We Got It Good & That Ain't Bad: an Ellington Songbook"), both on the Deutsche Grammophon label.


Previn became known to a broad public through his television work. In the United Kingdom, he worked on TV with the London Symphony Orchestra. In the United States, "Previn and the Pittsburgh" showed him in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Previn is particularly remembered in Britain for his performance as "Mr. Andrew Preview" (or "Privet") on the Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show in 1971, which involved his conducting a performance of Edvard Grieg's Piano Concerto with Eric Morecambe as the comically-inept soloist. (At one point "Mr Preview" accuses Eric Morecambe of playing the wrong notes; Eric retorts that he has been playing "the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.") Because of other commitments, the only time available for Previn to learn his Morecambe and Wise part was during a transatlantic flight, but the talent he showed for comedy won high praise from his co-performers. At a concert in Britain afterwards, Previn had to stop the playing of the concerto to allow the audience time to stop giggling as they remembered the sketch. Previn himself notes that people in the UK still recall the sketch years later, where "Taxi drivers still call me Mr Preview".

Television shows

   * Previn and the Pittsburgh (1977)

Personal life

Previn has been married five times. His first three marriages, to Betty Bennett, to Dory Langdon, and then to Mia Farrow, kept him in the public eye. He is the adoptive father of Soon-Yi Previn. After his fourth marriage (to Heather Sneddon in 1982) ended in 2002, Previn wed the German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, and later wrote a violin concerto for her. They divorced in 2006, but remain on amicable terms and have continued to work together in concerts. Previn wrote a memoir of his early years in Hollywood, No Minor Chords, which was published in 1991.

Awards and recognitions

Previn has received a total of thirteen Academy Award nominations, winning in 1958, 1959, 1963 and 1964. In 1970 he was nominated for a Tony Award as part of Coco's nomination for Best Musical. In 1977 he became an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music. The 1977 television show Previn and the Pittsburgh was nominated for three Emmy awards. Previn was appointed an honorary Knight of the Order of the British Empire in 1996. (Not being a citizen of a Commonwealth Realm, he may use only the post-nominal letters KBE and not the title "Sir André".) Previn received the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998 in recognition of his contributions to classical music and opera in the United States. In 2005 he was awarded the international Glenn Gould Prize and in 2008 won Gramophone magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in classical, film, and jazz music. In 2010, the Recording Academy honored Previn with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy.

[edit] Academy Awards

Best Music – Scoring of a Musical Picture

   * 1958 Gigi
   * 1959 Porgy & Bess

Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment

   * 1963 Irma la Douce
   * 1964 My Fair Lady

Grammy Awards

Best Instrumental Soloist

   * 2005 Previn: Violin Concerto; Bernstein: Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion

Best Classical Crossover Album

   * 2003 Korngold: The Sea Hawk, Captain Blood with the London Symphony Orchestra

Best Chamber Music Performance

   * 1999 American Scenes: Copland, Previn, Barber, Gershwin

Best Choral Performance

   * 1974 William Walton: Belshazzar's Feast with the London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
   * 1977 Rachmaninoff: The Bells with the London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

Best Performance by an Orchestra

   * 1960 Like Young with the David Rose Orchestra

Best Sound Track Album

   * 1959 Gigi
   * 1960 Porgy and Bess

Best Jazz Performance – Soloist or Small Group

   * 1961 West Side Story
   * 1962 Previn Plays Harold Arlen

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André Previn's Timeline

April 6, 1929
Berlin, Deutschland
February 15, 1973
Age 43