Today's Birthday 6/4

German conductor Andre Previn won four Academy Awards including for his My Fair Lady score in 1965.
German conductor Andre Previn won four Academy Awards including for his My Fair Lady score in 1965.

Today's Birthday, April 6: German conductor Andre Previn (1929 - 2019)

One of the most versatile musicians of his generation, German-born Andre Previn had a long and prolific career as a conductor, jazz pianist and composer.

Born in 1929 in Berlin, Germany, Previn's talents were identified in his early years.

By the age of six his parents realised he had perfect pitch and Previn entered the Berlin Conservatory.

The family briefly lived in Paris after fleeing the Nazis before moving to Los Angeles.

Previn, then a teenager, studied musical composition with the likes of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Joseph Achron and Ernst Toch and conducting with Pierre Monteux.

Previn's first work came while still at school, working on film scores in Hollywood.

In his senior year, he was called in to help write music for the 1946 musical Holiday in Mexico.

Previn went on to win, as a composer and musical director, Academy Awards for the scores for Gigi in 1958, Porgy and Bess in 1959, Irma La Douce in 1963, and My Fair Lady in 1964.

Previn was nominated for three Oscars in one year alone - 1961.

After a brief foray on Broadway, Previn found more success over the following 20 years as the artistic director of orchestras.

Among them were the London Symphony from 1969 to 1979, Royal Philharmonic from 1985 to 1988, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1985 to 1989.

Previn also released many albums over a period of 50 years, the majority featuring his talents as a jazz and classical pianist.

He collaborated with big names like Julie Andrews, Benny Carter and Mahalia Jackson.

In the latter stages of his career, Previn also turned to opera.

In 1998, Previn adapted the play A Street Car Named Desire into an opera which has since toured globally.

Previn was also no stranger to media attention. He has been married five times, including to Mia Farrow who left her husband Frank Sinatra for Previn after they started an affair.

He fathered seven children and adopted another three.

Previn passed away in his Manhattan home on February 28, 2019 at the age of 89.

Australian Associated Press