How Previn survived the Houston crash

Fascinating article in the Houston Chronicle on André’s first music directorship. He never revisited the orchestra.

By May, the society notified Previn that it was done with him. The main reasons included conflicts with his duties as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and the attendance drop. Previn figured it had to do with creative control and the selection of musicians and guest conductors.

“I had plans for this orchestra that were far from parochial,” Previn told Holmes days after his dismissal. “But the management has control of it now, and I suppose that was what it was all about.

“It wasn’t even human. Everyone knows musicians plan one to two years in advance.”

Read on here.


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  • It would not have been an easy task to replace the great Sir John Barbirolli as a young conductor. Bit like what happened to Lionel Bringuer when he replaced David Zinman in Zurich ( by the way Barbirolli was greater than Zinman & Previn was greater than Bringuer).

    • …or when the young John Barbirolli replaced Toscanini at the NY Philharmonic.
      (Barbirolli was an excellent conductor at the time; he eventually became a true giant.)

      • Or like when 29-year-old Lawrence Foster replaced the great Andre Previn at the Houston Symphony! I honestly do not understand any of these comments suggesting that Previn was viewed as somehow ‘too young’ in Houston. He was almost 40 years old. And he was replaced, as I say, by Foster, a much younger conductor.

  • “Fascinating article in the Houston Chronicle on André’s first music directorship. He never revisited the orchestra.”

    Actually the article says he did return to Houston, though not until 2009.

  • Management wanting to reach out to a growing, younger audience; older patrons alienated by the programming; attendance drops: things have not changed in fifty years.

  • from the article: “…The symphony… also wanted a younger conductor who would be up for taking the orchestra on tour, a grinding, but lucrative, endeavor…”

    What is it that makes packing everyone up and shipping them around to play concerts more lucrative than not having to ship them around?

  • I have such fond memories of attending several HSO concerts at Jones Hall under Maestro Previn during my high school years which approximately coincided with his tenure in Houston … one of them being hearing my first live performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with Vladimir Ashkenazy as soloist in what was probably his first visit to Houston ever.

    No “blood on the streets”, but apparently some blood on the keys towards the end of the 3rd movement due to Mr. Ashkenazy injuring his thumb. I still cherish the autograph he gave me then when he was still signing his name in Cyrillic letters.

    Of all the “red buttons” he could have pushed at that time (attire, hair length, relationships, etc.) I’m sure that André Previn hit them all … Ms. Ima Hogg, who founded the HSO back in 1913, died only in 1975, and probably funded the orchestra single-handedly during some of its most difficult times, was almost certainly not one of his fans.

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