Composer Andre Previn, who died Feb. 28, was one of those amazing and underappreciated triple-threat musicians: renowned conductor of classical music, extraordinary jazz pianist, talented composer of Hollywood film scores. Although he left the movie business in 1966 (and later penned an amusing memoir of that era, No Minor Chords), returning only occasionally to conduct a score (notably Rollerball and Jesus Christ Superstar), he will always be remembered for his contributions, especially during the 1950s and ’60s. California radio station KWMR kindly asked me to talk about Previn, his four Oscar wins and his remarkable facility with both songs and scores. Thanks to host Sally Phillips for the opportunity; my segment begins at 33 minutes into this archived broadcast.
It was an incredible opportunity: celebrating John Williams’ 70th birthday with a big Sunday piece that would enable me to interview almost everyone important in his life: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas (on the phone from Abbey Road, where he was recording Attack of the Clones), Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn and others. In addition to the praise from friends, I tried to install something of a historical perspective — where he came from, where he was going — while giving a sense that he was in no way slowing down. I’m very proud of this piece.