Previn, André (George) [Priwin, Andreas Ludwig]
- Edward Greenfield
[Priwin, Andreas Ludwig]
(b Berlin, April 6, 1929; d Manhattan, NY, Feb 28, 2019). American conductor, pianist, and composer of German birth. Son of a prosperous lawyer who was also a talented amateur musician, he showed exceptional musical talent from his earliest years. Playing piano duets with his father, he quickly developed phenomenal sight-reading ability, and at the age of six entered the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, studying the piano with Rudolf Breithaupt. In 1938 his family (of Russian-Jewish origin) left Germany for Paris, where he studied briefly at the Conservatoire. Emigrating to the USA the following year, the family settled in Los Angeles, where in 1943 he became an American citizen. While still at school he quickly learnt to use his talents as a pianist, playing accompaniments to silent films in a cult movie house and later becoming an orchestrator at the MGM film studios. This led to commissions to write film music of his own, which – following the practice of the studios – he had to conduct himself. This, in turn, fostered an ambition to conduct more widely, and he was soon conducting local performances of the classical repertory with players from the studio orchestras. Meanwhile he was developing a talent for playing jazz, and while still at school was performing in clubs, soon afterwards making his first recordings. At the same time he took composition lessons, with Joseph Achron, Ernst Toch, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco among his teachers, and was invited by the violinist Josef Szigeti to play in private performances of chamber music. Previn was called up for army service in ...