Conductor, composer and pianist Andre Previn has left the earth at age 89. To this day I’m unfamiliar with 90% of what Previn composed or conducted. To me he was the movie-score guy — Gigi, Porgy and Bess, Elmer Gantry, One, Two, Three, Irma La Douce, My Fair Lady, etc. Previn was nominated for 11 Oscars, and won four.
Previn wrote a brief memoir of his early years in Hollywood, “No Minor Chords“, published in ’91 and edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Previn’s life famously took a soap-opera turn in the late ’60s when he and then-wife Dory invited Mia Farrow into their lives. An affair between Previn and Farrow resulted and the marriage ended. Dory later launched a career as a performer with “Beware of Young Girls,” her song widely perceived to be aimed at Farrow.
In “No Minor Chords”, Previn recounted a near-dalliance with Ava Gardner in the mid 1940s.
“She listened to me play, quite attentively,” Previn wrote, “and then asked an incredible question: ‘Would you like to take me home later?’ Well, I was 17 and I simply could not allow myself to put a subtext connotation to this, so I asked: ‘You mean you don’t have a ride home?’ Ava gave me a long, searching look, saw that I was serious, excused herself and got up from the piano bench.”
I blew a couple of such opportunities myself in my late teens. I was too dumb or timid to simply realize what had been offered. I’ll never forgive myself…never.