André Previn was the most complete musician I have ever met – I was lucky enough to interview him on three occasions. Everything seemed to come so easily to him, laid back and apparently effortless whether in the role of conductor, classical pianist or jazz pianist. He was also a marvelous raconteur, and one story he told me will always stick in the memory. He was doing some concerts in Berlin in the late ‘80s, I think, or early ‘90s. The soloist for one of the concerts was the violinist Gil Shaham. After the rehearsal for whatever it was, the two of them decided on a stroll round the area and they happened to pass a second-hand book shop. Previn stopped in his tracks for there on display was a book that he remembered from his childhood that his father owned. Rather frustratingly, the shop was closed. The next day Previn went back to the shop on his own. This time it was open and he asked the owner if he might buy the book that was in the window. Imagine his reaction when he opened it to discover that it was his father’s copy, the self-same volume he had handled as a child in Berlin and which they had left behind with many other possessions when the family left Germany for Paris and the safety of America.
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