November 30, 2023


ABOVE PHOTO: WORLD RENOWNED CONCERT PIANIST ANDRE WATTS performs with the Kalamazoo (Mich.) Symphony Orchestra in the course of the opening live performance of the Irving S. Gilmore Worldwide Keyboard Pageant at Miller Auditorium on the Kalamazoo (Mich.) campus of Western Michigan College, Saturday night time, April 29, 2000. Watts died of prostate most cancers at his dwelling in Bloomington, Indiana, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. He was 77. (AP Picture/Kalamazoo Gazette, Henrik Edsenius)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Pianist André Watts, whose televised debut with the New York Philharmonic as a 16-year-old in 1963 launched a world profession of greater than a half-century, has died. He was 77.

Watts died Wednesday at his dwelling in Bloomington of prostate most cancers, his supervisor, Linda Marder, stated Friday. Watts joined the college of the Indiana College Jacobs College of Music in 2004. He stated in 2016 that he had been recognized with prostate most cancers.

Watts received a Philadelphia Orchestra scholar competitors and debuted when he was 10 in a kids’s live performance on Jan. 12, 1957, performing the primary motion of Haydn’s Concerto in D main.

He studied below Genia Robinor and made his New York Philharmonic debut in a Younger Folks’s Live performance led by music director Leonard Bernstein on Jan. 12, 1963, a program televised three days afterward CBS.

“Now we come to a younger man who’s so exceptional that I’m tempted to offer him an incredible buildup, however I’d nearly reasonably not so that you simply might need the identical surprising shock of enjoyment and wonderment that I had once I first him play,” Bernstein informed the viewers. “He was simply one other in an extended procession of pianists who had been auditioning for us one afternoon and out he got here, a sensitive-faced 16-year-old boy from Philadelphia … who sat down on the piano and tore into the opening bars of a Liszt concerto in such a manner that we merely flipped.”

Andre Watts, 16, performs the Liszt piano concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic, on Jan. 31, 1963. Watts died Wednesday, July 12, 2023 in Bloomington, Ind., at age 77. (AP Picture/Matty Zimmerman, File)

Bernstein carried out Watts and the orchestra in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1.

“What Mr. Watts had that was distinctive was a delicacy of assault that allowed the piano to sing,” Raymond Ericson wrote in The New York Occasions.

Watts so impressed Bernstein that the conductor selected him to interchange an indisposed Glenn Gould and play the Liszt concerto twice at Philharmonic Corridor a number of weeks later. Inside months, he had earned a recording contract and have become among the many most outstanding pianists.

“After I’m feeling sad, going to the piano and simply taking part in gently and listening to sounds makes the whole lot slowly appear all proper,” he stated on a 1987 episode of ”Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Born in Nuremberg, Germany, on June 20, 1946, to a Hungarian mom and a Black father who was within the U.S. Military, Watts moved along with his household to Philadelphia.

“After I was younger, I used to be within the peculiar place with my college pals of not being white and never being Black, both,” Watts informed The Christian Science Monitor in 1982. “Someway I didn’t slot in very nicely in any respect. My mother stated two issues, ‘When you actually suppose that it’s important to play 125% to a white’s 100% for equal therapy, it’s too dangerous. However combating is not going to alter it.’ And, ‘If somebody shouldn’t be good to you, it doesn’t should be robotically due to your shade.’

“(That recommendation) taught me that once I’m in a posh private state of affairs, I don’t should conclude it’s a racial factor. Due to this fact, I feel I’ve encountered fewer issues all alongside the best way.”

Watts’ profession was interrupted on Nov. 14, 2002, when he was suffering from a subdural hematoma earlier than a scheduled efficiency with the Pacific Symphony on the Orange County Performing Arts Middle in Costa Mesa, California. He had surgical procedure in Newport Seaside.

Watts then had surgical procedure in 2004 to restore a herniated disk that brought about nerve harm in his left hand. He made the final of greater than 40 Carnegie Corridor appearances with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in 2017. He had been scheduled to seem on the New York Philharmonic this November to mark the centennial of “Younger Folks’s Concert events.”

He was nominated for 5 Grammy Awards and received Most Promising New Classical Recording Artist in 1964 for the Liszt concerto with Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. He was nominated for a 1995 Emmy Award for Excellent Cultural Program and acquired a 2011 Nationwide Medal of Arts and Nationwide Humanities Medal from then-President Barack Obama.

Watts is survived by his spouse Joan Model Watts, stepson William Dalton, stepdaughter Amanda Rees and 7 step-grandchildren. There have been no quick funeral plans.