André Previn - Writer

Composer and Music Director. Nationality: American. Born: Andreas Ludwig Prewin in Berlin, Germany, 6 April 1929; son of the musician Charles Previn; emigrated to the United States, 1939; naturalized citizen, 1943. Education: Studied at conservatories in Berlin and Paris; also studied with Pierre Monteux, Joseph Achron, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco; attended Beverly Hills High School. Family: Married 1) the singer Betsy Bennett (divorced), two daughters; 2) the singer and composer Dory Langan (i.e., Dory Previn), 1959 (divorced

André Previn
André Previn
1970); 3) the actress Mia Farrow, 1970 (divorced, 1979), twin sons, three adopted children; 4) Heather Sneddon, 1982, one son (separated). Career: Joined MGM as arranger while still in his teens; then composer and conductor: conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, 1967–69, the London Symphony Orchestra, 1968–75, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, 1976–86, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London, since 1985, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, 1986–89. Awards: Academy Award, for Gigi , 1958, Porgy and Bess , 1959, Irma La Douce , 1963, and My Fair Lady , 1964.

Films as Composer:


The Sun Comes Up (Thorpe)


Border Incident (A. Mann); Tension (Berry); Scene of the Crime (Rowland); Challenge to Lassie (Thorpe)


Dial 1119 ( The Violent Hour ) (Mayer); Kim (Saville); The Great Sinner (Siodmak); The Outriders (Rowland)


Cause for Alarm (Garnett)


The Girl Who Had Everything (Thorpe)


Bad Day at Black Rock (J. Sturges)


Kismet (Minnelli)


Invitation to the Dance (Kelly); The Fastest Gun Alive (Rouse); The Catered Affair (Brooks)


Hot Summer Night (Friedkin); House of Numbers (Rouse); Designing Woman (Minnelli); Silk Stockings (Mamoulian)


Elmer Gantry (Brooks); Who Was That Lady? (Sidney)


All in a Night's Work (Anthony); One, Two, Three (Wilder)


Long Day's Journey into Night (Lumet); Two for the Seesaw (Wise) (song); The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Minnelli)


Irma La Douce (Wilder)


Goodbye Charlie (Minnelli); Kiss Me Stupid (Wilder); Dead Ringer (Henreid)


Inside Daisy Clover (Mulligan)


Harper ( The Moving Target ) (Smight) (song); The Fortune Cookie (Wilder); The Swinger (Sidney) (song)


Valley of the Dolls (Robson) (songs)


Paint Your Wagon (Logan) (songs)


The Music Lovers (Russell)


Mrs. Pollifax—Spy (Martinson)


Rollerball (Jewison)


The Elephant Man (Lynch)


Six Weeks (Bill)


Romeo and Juliet (Acosta)


Streetcar Named Desire (Graham)

Films as Musical Director:


Undercurrent (Minnelli) (supervisor)


Three Little Words (Thorpe)


Small Town Girl (Kardos); Kiss Me Kate (Sidney); Give a Girl a Break (Donen)


It's Always Fair Weather (Donen and Kelly)


Gigi (Minnelli)


Porgy and Bess (Preminger)


Bells Are Ringing (Minnelli)


My Fair Lady (Cukor)


Thoroughly Modern Millie (Hill) (co); The Way West (McLaglen)


Jesus Christ Superstar (Jewison)


By PREVIN: books—

With Antony Hopkins, Music Face to Face , London, 1971.

(Editor), Orchestra , New York, 1979.

André Previn's Guide to Music , New York, 1983.

No Minor Chords , London, 1991.

On PREVIN: books—

Greenfield, Edward, André Previn , London, 1973.

Bookspan, Martin, and Ross Yockey, André Previn: A Biography , New York, 1981.

Ruttencutter, Helen, Previn , London, 1985.

Freedland, Michael, André Previn , London, 1991.

On PREVIN: articles—

Films and Filming (London), May 1968.

Thomas, Tony, in Music for the Movies , South Brunswick, New Jersey, 1973.

Ecran (Paris), September 1975.

Lacombe, Alain, in Hollywood , Paris, 1983.

Care, R., "Previn, Andre. No Minor Chords," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), vol. 47, no. 1, 1993.

* * *

André Previn was born in Berlin and began piano studies at the Berlin Conservatory at the age of six. The family moved to Paris in 1938 and the next year to Los Angeles, where Previn continued his studies with the composers Joseph Achron and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. At 16 Previn was hired on a part-time basis as an arranger and pianist, and two years later became a full-time employee. In 1948 he was given his first assignment as the composer of a complete, original score, The Sun Comes Up , followed by a stream of other films, both as a composer and the music director for musicals, and it is in the latter capacity that most of his Oscar nominations have been given. Previn won Oscars for his work arranging and conducting the scores of Gigi and Porgy and Bess and for his original music for Irma La Douce , and as the music director of My Fair Lady . He was also nominated for the song he wrote for Two for the Seesaw and for his music direction of Three Little Words , Kiss Me Kate , Bells Are Ringing , Thoroughly Modern Millie , and Jesus Christ Superstar . Of his serious film scores Elmer Gantry and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are considered his finest, and of the more comedic scores One, Two, Three and The Fortune Cookie are notable.

Despite this enviable record of success in films and the popularity of his many record albums as a stylish jazz pianist, Previn put it all behind him when he accepted the position of conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1967. The following year he was contracted as the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and held the position until 1975, establishing a solid reputation and becoming a popular figure in England with his many concerts, recordings and appearances on television. He accepted the post of conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1976 and held it until his appointment in Los Angeles, which allowed for him to appear as a guest conductor internationally. In addition to piano and chamber works, Previn has written a symphony for strings, concertos for cello, violin and guitar, and with lyricist Tom Stoppard the choral work Every Good Boy Deserves a Favor . For the theater, Previn has written the scores for Coco (1969) and The Good Companions (1971). In looking back on his career in films, Previn is emphatic that it is long gone and finished, and appears to hold only one grudge. This concerns the attitude of American music critics. "They might forgive you for having been the Boston Strangler but never for having written a movie score. You don't have this in Europe."

—Tony Thomas

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