The night Andre Previn got the wrong Oscar

The night Andre Previn got the wrong Oscar


norman lebrecht

February 28, 2017

Chris Russell in LA reminds us of the 1964 Oscars when Sammy Davis Jr was given the wrong envelope for winner of Best Score. He announced the wrong one. Conductor and orchestra, who had been primed for the right winner, looked up in consternation. The error was quickly corrected.





  • Tommy says:

    So, in fact, Previn got the RIGHT Oscar.

  • Sue says:

    Yes, whatever happened to Andre Previn? Is he involved in music anymore or just too old now?

    • Cubs Fan says:

      He’ still around, living in London and mostly composing. He’s scheduled to conduct the Pacific Symphony in Orange County this October and we’re all looking forward to it. Great conductor, great pianist, great composer – a second Leonard Bernstein we somehow never quite appreciated.

      • jaxon says:

        I’m going to have to strenuously disagree with this appraisal of his composing and his conducting, both of which I’m pretty familiar with. But we’re all entitled to our opinions!

        • Cubs Fan says:

          As a composer, we can agree to disagree. As a conductor, Previn has a recorded legacy to match anyone. His Vaughan Williams cycle is still the best ever done. Some others that are widely considered superb by any measure: Rachmaninoff 2nd (EMI), Mahler 4, Korngold symphony, Walton symphony 1, ballets of Prokofieff and Tchaikovsky, Goldmark Rustic Wedding, Prokofieff 7th, and more by Shostakovich, Rimsky-Korsakov, Sibelius and R. Strauss.

          • M2N2K says:

            That list of recordings does not mean much to those of us who worked with him quite a lot and knew him well during his prime as a performer. A “second Leonard Bernstein”, really? If so, then an extremely distant second indeed.

  • V.Lind says:

    So much for PWC’s continuous bleat that it has never happened before. Not quite as serious as Sunday night, but an indication that humane error creeps in even at the Oscars.

  • Larry says:

    Previn has been commissioned by the Kalamazoo Symphony to write a concerto for orchestra.

  • DrummerMan says:

    Can’t believe that Previn was “primed for the right winner.” As he explains his book, “No Minor Chords,” each musician in the pit has a short excerpt of each of the nominated scores on a single sheet, numbered consecutively. When the winner is announced from the stage, the conductor signals to the orchestra which number to play, and it is repeated several times so the winner can walk up onto the stage.

  • David says:

    This is the first instance where I’ve seen how talented and quick-witted Sammy David Jr. was. That quip about the NAACP was awesome.

    Also, Elmer Berstein wrote incredible film music, I think he’s really under-rated.

    • Tommy says:

      Underrated by whom?! Elmer Bernstein was one of the best known, most successful and highly respected film composers there’s been.

  • PaulD says:

    That was quite a collection of film composers who were nominated, that’s for sure.

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Nice to hear two short and dignified speeches, too.

  • Larry says:

    I seem to recall a similar mishap at the Tony Awards ceremony a few years where Anthony Quinn was given the wrong card when he announced a winner.

  • Sue says:

    This is Previn’s best film composition – a song – with lyrics by ex-wife Dory.

    • Sue says:

      I couldn’t help noticing Previn’s orchestration for this song was extremely similar to that of the great Conrad Salinger. A steal, really.

  • ENRIQUE says:

    I never knew that Andre Previn and Elmer Bernstein were as short as Sammy Davis, Jr. ! (5′-5″) I’m in good company! ♥