BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Pianist Andre Watts, who launched an international career that spanned more than half a century when he made his television debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1963 at the age of 16, has died. he was 77 years old.
Watts died Wednesday at his home in Bloomington from prostate cancer, his manager Linda Marder announced Friday. Watts joined the faculty of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in 2004. She announced in 2016 that she had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Watts won the Philadelphia Orchestra’s student competition and made his debut at the age of 10 performing the first movement of Haydn’s Concerto in D major at a children’s concert on January 12, 1957.
Studied with Genia Robiner, he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on January 12, 1963 at the Young Peoples Concert, directed by musical director Leonard Bernstein, which aired three days later on CBS.
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“Now that we know a very fine young man, I am tempted to give him so much growth, but I hope that you will give me the same joy as I first felt for him.” And I almost don’t want to stop because you might experience an unexpected shock of surprise, ‘play it,’ Bernstein told the audience. “He was just one of a long line of pianists auditioning for us one afternoon, and out came a sensitive-faced 16-year-old boy from Philadelphia. I did… sat down at the piano and tore the first bar and played Liszt’s concerto in a simple flip.”
Bernstein conducted Watts and the orchestra in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No.
Raymond Erickson wrote in The New York Times, “Mr. Watts’ extraordinary talent was the subtle attack that allowed the piano to sing.”
Watts impressed Bernstein so much that the conductor chose him to replace the ill Glenn Gould, who, a few weeks later, performed Liszt’s concerto twice at the Philharmonic Hall. . Within months, he had a recording contract and became one of the most prominent pianists.
“When I’m feeling unhappy, I just go to the piano and play softly and listen and everything slowly starts to feel okay,” he said in a 1987 episode of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.” rice field.
Watts was born in Nuremberg, Germany, on June 20, 1946, to a Hungarian mother and a black father who served in the United States Army, and moved with his family to Philadelphia.
“When I was a little girl, I was in a unique position among my schoolmates who were neither white nor black,” Watts told The Christian Science Monitor in 1982. My mother said two things. “If you really think you have to play 125% against 100% whites in order to be treated equally, that’s too bad. But fighting won’t change the situation.” , “If someone isn’t nice to you, it doesn’t have to automatically be because of the color of your skin.”
“[That advice]has taught me that when you’re in a personal complicated situation, you don’t have to conclude that it’s a racial issue. I think it’s less of a problem.”
Watts’ career was interrupted on November 14, 2002, when he suffered a subdural hematoma before a scheduled performance with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, California. He underwent surgery in Newport Beach.
Watts then underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc that caused nerve damage in his left hand in 2004. In 2017 he completed his last of more than 40 appearances at Carnegie Hall with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He was scheduled to perform at the New York Philharmonic in November this year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his “Concert for Youth”.
He was nominated for five Grammy Awards and won Most Promising New Classical Recording Artist in 1964 for his Liszt Concerto with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. He was nominated for his 1995 Emmy Award for Outstanding Cultural Program and in 2011 was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the National Medal of Humanities by then-President Barack Obama.
Watts is survived by his wife Joan Bland Watts, stepson William Dalton, stepdaughter Amanda Reese, and seven grandchildren. There were no immediate funeral plans.
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