WFIU’s featured contemporary composer for April is André Previn.
Born in Germany, André Previn’s family immigrated to the United States when he was nine years old in 1939. He grew up in Los Angeles and began his career in music shortly after his high school graduation by arranging and composing scores for Hollywood movies. His earliest film score dates from 1949 and scores would continue to be an important part of his repertory through his career. Music conductor The Secret Garden, Act of Violence, Above and Beyond, and It’s Always Fair Weather, Previn also served as music director for such well-known films as Kismet, Kiss Me Kate, My Fair Lady, and Gigi, winning Academy Awards for the latter two.
Previn made his conducting debut with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in 1962 and became the musical director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra in 1967. He was also named the London Symphony Orchestra’s principal director the next year. During his tenure with the LSO, he became a strong advocate of English composers such as Vaughan Williams, Walton, and Elgar, and imitated Bernstein in his production of television programs on orchestral music. In addition to laying new ground in his recordings of English composers, his recordings of Rachmaninoff set a new standard by which all other recordings are judged.
His compositions run the gamut of genres, including everything from film music and jazz to violin concertos and chamber music. His marriage to Anne-Sophie Mutter provided a muse for his numerous violin concertos and dual concertos for double bass and violin, and viola and violin. Previn has composed two operas: A Streetcar Named Desire, premiered by the San Francisco Opera in 1998; and Brief Encounter, premiered by the Houston Grand Opera in 2009. He holds the both the Austrian and German Cross of Merit, received the Glenn Gould Prize in Toronto in 1996, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1996.
WFIU will feature music composed by André Previn throughout the month of April.