Andre Previn (1929-2019)

By: Malcolm Taylor

March 1, 2019

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During his principal tenure at the London Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn conducted many choral concerts with the London Symphony Chorus, and was eventually appointed the chorus’s President Emeritus. He conducted over 40 concerts with the Chorus and made 10 commercial recordings of major choral works.

In its obituary on 1st March, the Guardian noted that his LSO recordings were often his best. He would apparently phone EMI to let them know that the preparations for a particular concert were going well, and by the end of the week a recording team would be on hand.

As can be seen from the works he did with the LSC, he was not afraid to champion composers who were not popular in the UK at the time. These included William Walton, whose “Belshazzar’s Feast” we recorded twice and performed three times with him (on one occasion in Rome).

At the same time, the classics were not ignored with 7 performances of Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” and another 7 performances of Brahms “Ein Deutsches Requiem”, the final performance of which in 2000 coincided with the launch of LSO Live. Some less regularly performed works cropped up several times: Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les Sortileges” was given in 5 performances and a recording. He also conducted 3 performances of Britten’s “Spring Symphony”, which was also recorded, and the same statistics apply to Rachmaninov’s “The Bells” with a recording following 3 performances.

To slightly plagiarise Morecambe and Wise, over the period of 30 years during which we worked with Andre Previn, we can honestly say we tried to sing all the right notes in the right order.

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