Did you have the opportunity to see the world premiere of André Previn’s Double Concerto for Violin and Cello last fall? Today I’d like to continue our look at living composers by exploring his life and listening to his Violin Concerto.
Previn is a world-famous conductor, composer, pianist, and Grammy-award winner who was first exposed to music by his father. Coming from a Russian-Jewish background, the family moved to the US during Nazi Germany time and young Previn began playing piano in night clubs and for silent films. He completed several jazz recordings in the 1940s and went on to study composition. Writing and conducting studio orchestras in films throughout the 50s and 60s, Previn is known for contributing music to hits including Gigi and My Fair Lady. Eventually he expanded his repertoire to include more classical pieces.
Previn prefers to compose with a specific artist in mind. He wrote his Violin Concerto for his wife at the time, Anne-Sophie Mutter, whose playing he strongly admires. The piece incorporates a German children’s song (“If I were a bird and had two wings, I’d fly to you…”) in the third movement. Growing up in Germany, he knew this song as a child.
Join me next time as we wrap up the month by discussing Nico Muhly!