American pianist André Watts died July 12 at the age of 77. Watts was born in Nuremberg, Germany, the son of Hungarian pianist Maria Alexandra Gusmits and U.S. officer Herman Watts.

He spent his early childhood in Europe, living mostly on bases where his father was stationed. He began learning the violin at age four, but decided to take up the piano at age six. At the age of eight, the family moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, for professional reasons. He entered his first competition at the age of 9 for the chance to play a children’s concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra. In the competition, he competed in a piece by Joseph Haydn and won. At 10, he performed Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Robin Hood Dell Orchestra, and at 14, César Franck’s Symphonic Variations with the Philadelphia Orchestra. At 16, he made his debut with the New York Philharmonic on January 12, 1963, conducting Leonard Bernstein in Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat Major at a Young People’s Concert at Philharmonic Hall. A few weeks later, he filled in at short notice for the ailing Glenn Gould with the same work.

With recordings and concerts all over the world, he made a respectable career.  From 2004 he taught at Indiana University Bloomington.


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