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ANDRÉ WATTS burst upon the music world at the age of 16 when Leonard Bernstein chose him to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic in their Young People’s Concerts, broadcast nationwide on CBS-TV. Only two weeks later, Bernstein asked him to substitute at the last minute for the ailing Glenn Gould in performances of Liszt’s E-flat Concerto with the New York Philharmonic, thus launching his career in storybook fashion. More than 45 years later, André Watts remains one of today’s most celebrated and beloved superstars.
A perennial favorite with orchestras throughout the U.S., Watts is also a regular guest at the major summer music festivals including Ravinia, the Hollywood Bowl, Saratoga, Tanglewood, and the Mann Music Center. Recent and upcoming engagements include appearances with the Philadelphia and Minnesota orchestras, the New York and Los Angeles philharmonics, and the St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Seattle, and National symphonies, among others. During the 2010/11 season, Watts played all-Liszt recitals throughout the U.S. while recent international engagements include concerto and recital appearances in Japan, Germany, and Spain.
André Watts has had a long and frequent association with television, having appeared on numerous programs produced by PBS, the BBC, and the Arts and Entertainment Network, performing with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, among others. His 1976 New York recital, aired on the program Live From Lincoln Center, was the first full-length recital broadcast in the history of television and his performance at the 38th Casals Festival in Puerto Rico was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Individual Achievement in Cultural Programming. Watts’ most recent television appearances are with the Philadelphia Orchestra on the occasion of the orchestra’s 100th Anniversary Gala and a performance of the Brahms Concerto No. 2 with the Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz conducting, for PBS.
Watts’ extensive discography includes recordings of works by Gershwin, Chopin, Liszt, and Tchaikovsky for CBS Masterworks; recital CDs of works by Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, and Chopin for Angel/EMI; and recordings featuring the concertos of Liszt, MacDowell, Tchaikovsky, and Saint-Saëns on the Telarc label. He is also included in the Great Pianists of the 20th Century series for Philips.
A much-honored artist who has played before royalty in Europe and heads of government in nations all over the world, André Watts was selected to receive the Avery Fisher Prize in 1988. At age 26 he was the youngest person ever to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Yale University and he has since received numerous honors from highly respected schools, including the University of Pennsylvania, Brandeis University, the Juilliard School of Music, and his alma mater, the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. In June 2006, he was inducted into the Hollywood Bowl of Fame to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his debut (with the Philadelphia Orchestra).
Previously Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland, Watts was appointed to the newly created Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music at Indiana University in May 2004.