André Previn in 1965. He conducted, composed, played jazz piano and scored movies in a musical life that spurned categories.
Erich Auerbach/Getty Images
André Previn, who blurred the boundaries between jazz, pop and classical music - and between composing, conducting and performing - in an extraordinarily eclectic, award-filled career, died on Thursday at his home in Manhattan. He was 89.
His death was confirmed by his manager, Linda Petrikova.
Mr. Previn wrote or arranged the music for dozens of movies and received four Academy Awards, and was nominated for three Oscars in one year alone - 1961, for the scores for "Elmer Gantry" and "Bells Are Ringing" and the song "Faraway Part of Town" from the comedy "Pepe."
Audiences knew him as well as a jazz pianist who appeared with Ella Fitzgerald, among others, and as a composer who turned out musicals, orchestral works, chamber music, operas and concertos, including several for his fifth wife, the violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter. He was also the music director or principal conductor of a half-dozen orchestras.
Critics described Mr. Previn as a "wunderkind in a turtleneck" and the "Mickey Mouse maestro" when he was in his 20s and 30s. He was often compared to Leonard Bernstein, a similarly versatile conductor, composer and pianist. Time magazine's headline when Mr. Previn became the principal conductor of the London Symphony in 1968 was "Almost Like Bernstein." Newsweek summarized his appointment as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1985 as "Bernstein West."
And like Bernstein, Mr. Previn was no stranger to a life of glamour and media attention, particularly when the actress Mia Farrow left Frank Sinatra, her husband, and married Mr. Previn after an affair that had become grist for the gossip columns.
"See you in the Morning beloved Friend," Ms. Farrow, who was divorced from Mr. Previn in 1979, tweeted on Thursday. "May you rest in glorious symphonies."
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