André Previn

Active - 1948 - 2020  |   Born - Apr 6, 1929 in Berlin, Germany  |   Genres - Musical, Music, Drama, Comedy

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Born in Germany, composer Andre Previn spent much of his adolescence in Los Angeles. After studying musical composition with Mario Castenuovo-Tedasco, Previn sought out work in Hollywood, where his cousin Charles Previn was already an established composer (another Previn, Andre's younger brother Steve Previn, became a film and TV director). At 19, Previn was hired as an arranger by MGM. Functioning in this capacity and as composer and musical director, Previn was honored several times by the Academy Awards folks, earning nominations for Kiss Me Kate (1953), Two for the Show (1955), It's Always Fair Weather (1955), Bells are Ringing (1960), Pepe (1960) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967), and winning Oscars for Gigi (1958) and Porgy and Bess (1959). With his first wife Dory Langdon (who, as Dory Previn, went on to an impressive musical career of her own), he composed the Oscar-nominated "Faraway Part of Town," which, as performed by Judy Garland, was the sole highlight of Pepe. Divorcing Dory in 1970, Previn married actress Mia Farrow, a union that lasted until 1979. A brilliant jazz and classical pianist, Previn has turned out several top-selling record albums, some of which have earned Grammies. From 1968 to 1979, he was director of the London Symphony Orchestra, and from 1985 to 1989 he wielded the baton for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In addition, he was heard and seen in a series of TV hi-fi commercials. In 1992, Andre Previn wrote his autobiography, No Minor Chords: My Days in Hollywood.

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  • Moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1939, escaping Nazi Germany.
  • Became a U.S. citizen in 1943.
  • Started working on writing and arranging film scores in Hollywood in 1946.
  • Was a successful pianist and accompanist, working on albums with Doris Day, Dinah Shore and Julie Andrews in the 1960s.
  • Has been the conductor of a number of symphony orchestras, including those in Houston, London, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
  • Composed two operas based on films, A Streetcar Named Desire and Brief Encounter.
  • In 1991, wrote a memoir titled No Minor Chords: My Days in Hollywood, which was edited by Jacqueline Onassis.
  • In 1996, was named an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
  • Was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 1998.