Born Andreas Priwin in Berlin, Previn’s family escaped Nazi Germany and came to the United States when he was just 9. Seven years later, he was already working for MGM’s music department. His first credited piece of music was the score for the 1949 Lassie movie The Sun Comes Up, which he later called “one of the most inept pieces of music ever”.
Although a prodigious composer for both the high and lowbrow (he continued working in Hollywood until the mid 70s, ending his time as a scorer with music for Rollerball), and a talented jazz pianist, he will be remembered as a conductor: with the London Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony and the LA Philharmonic. He was arguably the last superstar conductor whose name had cache among the mainstream: he was called a “first-rate conductor of second-rate music”. He even had a BBC talkshow in the 1970s.
This is the part where you’d expect me to mention Morecambe and Wise. Instead, I’ll point out that he disowned his step-daughter because she got fucked by Woody Allen.