Pianist/composer Andre Previn, Master of Many Musical Genres, Dies at 89

Andre Previn

The Oscar-winning composer and former husband of Mia Farrow turned his back on Hollywood and gained further renown as a conductor, composer and jazz pianist.

Andre Previn, the four-time Oscar winner who mastered classical, jazz, pop and movie music as a composer, conductor and pianist during a career that spanned eight decades, has died. He was 89.

The Berlin native, who began working at MGM in 1946 while still attending Beverly Hills High School and went on to compile a résumé that featured an astounding 500-plus albums, died Thursday at his home in Manhattan, his manager told The Hollywood Reporter.

Previn was nominated 11 times for an Academy Award, winning for his music work on Gigi (1958), Porgy and Bess (1959), Irma La Douce (1963) and My Fair Lady (1964).

To the surprise of his colleagues, Previn in the early 1960s left MGM to concentrate on classical music. He was in his early 30s. “At MGM you knew you were going to be working next year, you knew you were going to get paid,” he told The Guardian in 2008. “But I was too ambitious musically to settle for it. And I wanted to gamble with whatever talent I might have had.”

Previn was extremely versatile. Throughout the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, he also established himself as an accomplished jazz pianist. Starting in 1955 with the album Collaboration, his name was found on dozens of releases, either as a solo performer or in collaboration with such artists as Shorty Roberts, Russ Freeman, Benny Carter, J.J. Johnson, Shelly Manne, Dinah Shore and Doris Day.

He returned to his jazz roots in the 1980s, releasing more than a dozen recordings in a two-decade period, including 1983’s Nice Work If You Can Get It with Ella Fitzgerald, 1989’s After Hours with Joe Pass and Ray Brown, 1996’s Ballads: Solo Jazz Standards and 2001’s Live at the Jazz Standard with David Finck.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.