Carl Slaughter (1958-2019)

File 770’s Carl Slaughter died August 11 in a car accident. The Murray, Kentucky fan had just moved back to the U.S. in March after years spent teaching English in China.

Carl had more than 250 reviews, interviews, features, and critiques published at Tangent, Diabolical Plots, SF Signal, File 770, and the Critters Workshop. I’m grateful he was so generous with his talent here.

Carl discovered fandom in a roundabout way, as he recalled in “An Interviewer’s Journey: From Battery Power to Warp 9”:

I didn’t set out to become an interviewer.  Or a muse for that matter.  Video compilations, never conceived it.

I just wanted some feedback about the first 10 chapters of a novel I intended to write.  To qualify for that feedback, Critters, the oldest and largest online speculative fiction workshop, required that I provide feedback to other writers.  Soon I started getting feedback from those writers about my critiques of their stories:  You understand my story and what I’m trying to accomplish with it much more than other critiquers.

When Tangent put out a call for reviewers, I used my Critters work to get on as a reviewer.  Fellow Critter Frank Dutkiewicz introduced me to Diabolical Plots, which was trying to accomplish the monumental task of reviewing all of Daily Science Fiction’s stories.  So I used my Tangent work to get on with Diabolical Plots.  I checked out the Diabolical Plots site and discovered that they also do interviews. Mike Resnick was my first interviewee…

When David Steffen, editor of Diabolical Plots, transferred his attention to The Submissions Grinder, which became an institution virtually overnight, he connected Carl with John DeNardo at SF Signal.  When DeNardo shut down his site in 2016, I invited Carl to contribute to File 770.

One of his first interviews here was with Liu Cixin (“Liu Cixin, The 3 Body Problem, and the Growth of SF in China”). By the following year he had registered the 100th interview of his career, with Cat Rambo.

Carl was a whirlwind of productivity. Even as he was transitioning between sites in 2016 he did 225 posts — interviews, features, profiles, reviews, essays, editorials, and news tips. I was energized by his creativity and constant flow of ideas, and he broadened File 770’s coverage with his many YouTube video roundups.

Professionally, for the past 15 years he traveled the globe teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) in 6 countries on 3 continents.  His essay on Chinese culture was published in Beijing Review. His essay on Korean culture was published in The Korea Times, as was his expose on the Korean ESL industry. For several years, he was editor of ESL Book Review. He created a Facebook page “ESL Around the World” with many photos of his classes.

A student with Carl Slaughter in the “English Corner” at China Australia High School in Zhengzhou.

He earned his BA in Communications in Journalism and Broadcast from Murray State University. Throughout his years of travel Carl made many friends while maintaining strong ties to Kentucky, his family, and church, returning periodically to the Western Kentucky area. 

He is survived by his older brother Paul Eugene Slaughter of Landisburg, Pennsylvania and younger sister Elizabeth Ann Slaughter of Round Rock, Texas.

Thanks to Elizabeth for contacting me with the news about Carl, and for sharing a draft of the family obituary. Elizabeth says Carl’s memorial service, when scheduled, will be at the Collier Funeral Home in Benton, Kentucky. A statement about making donations in his name will also follow once an appropriate non-profit is selected.  

Martin Hoare (1952-2019)

David Langford’s caption: “A photo by me of Martin in his natural habitat — a pub — on the occasion of Curt Phillips’s visit to Reading as part of his 2014 TAFF trip.”

British conrunner Martin Hoare died July 26, reportedly from infection following an emergency surgical procedure. He was 67.

Born in Newport, Wales in 1952, he went to the same nursery schools as Dave Langford who remembers him as “My oldest friend.”

In that capacity Martin gained fannish fame as the familiar accepter of Langford’s many Hugos won at overseas Worldcons. When he accepted Langford’s Best Fanwriter Hugo at Chicon 2000, he promised that an sf blockbuster based on “The Collected Hugo Acceptance Speeches of Dave Langford” was already in production as a movie.

Martin Hoare (left) and Mike Glyer (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo from Fanac.org site.

He read Physics at Oxford and developed an interest in beer.  He started working in the computer industry in 1973.

Dermot Dobson recalls another memorable accomplishment:

In the 1980s, I had an idea for a medical tele-radiology system for emergency management in neuro radiology. I developed the hardware and it was to Martin that I went to form a partnership for which he wrote the software. It spawned over a dozen academic papers, including ones that reported ImageLink had been instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of patients and improving the outcome of many hundreds more.

Anders Bellis told Facebook friends, “He also had a law degree. He was a Welshman who moved to England. if I remember correctly some time during the seventies, but he was always proud of Wales and of being a Welshman.”

In his fannish career, Fancyclopedia 3 credits him as co-chair of Seacon ’84 and Helicon 2, the 1984 and 2002 Eastercons. He worked on innumerable convention committees, including acting as Division Head at ConFiction (1990 Worldcon).

Martin said he was on more Eastercon committees that anyone else. He also was known for organizing fireworks shows at British conventions. And the real ale bars he hosted were legendary. Eastercon members voiced their thanks for all by voting him the Doc Weir Award in 2015, traditionally given to good guys and unsung heroes.

Martin was predeceased by his wife, Jean, in 1999.

Update: David Langford adds that nursery school was just the beginning — followed by their years together in “junior school, secondary school and Oxford college (Brasenose). After some divergence caused by job choices, we also ended up living in Reading. I was best man at all three of his weddings, the last to Jean; it was pointed out today that he died exactly twenty years after her.”

Martin Hoare at MagiCon (1992).

[Thanks to David Langford and Marcia Illingworth for the story.]

Remembering Vince and Tommy De Noble

By Steve Vertlieb: I met Tommy De Noble in 1967 when I was working as an announcer at WDVR Radio in the old Reynolds Aluminum Building in Bala Cynwyd, Pa. Tommy was one of the most handsome men I’d ever met. He was a singer, recording artist, and actor. He might have passed for James Darren’s twin brother. Dick Clark wrote in his book that Tommy was “the most popular dancer in the history of American Bandstand.” Tommy had just returned from a stint in the Army on the West Coast, and was looking for work in the Philadelphia area. Tommy and his brothers, Vince and Lou, were all from Philadelphia, but Tommy had gone to Hollywood to make his fortune. He had won a gold record for “Count Every Star,” and appeared in several motion pictures and television shows but, after his required stint in the military, gigs out West had somehow disappeared.

Somewhere around 1975, Tommy landed a position as film director at WTAF TV 29 in Philadelphia. We had become best friends and brothers in the ensuing years, and Tommy offered me a job as a film editor at the television station. I accepted, and there began the happiest employment that I’ve ever known. I was with WTAF for twelve years, from 1976 until 1988. Fleshing out the remainder of the film department were a very gifted artist named Bill Levers, and Tommy’s younger brother, Vince. We soon became inseparable. We went everywhere together, and laughed from morning until night. Bill was one of the funniest men I’ve ever known, and Vince became like my own little brother. We were quite literally “The Four Musketeers.” I’d grow excited each morning when I left for work, and become depressed in the late afternoon when it came time to leave work and return home.

Our happiness was not to last, however. After a dozen years with the station, Taft Broadcasting sold us to a tiny, fly by night chain that set about cutting corners, and eliminating personnel. I was laid off, and never again returned to the field that I hoped would constitute my life’s career. Some years later, Tommy had a stroke, and passed away. Vince asked me to read the scriptures at his funeral service. At Tommy’s memorial, a group of us stood around, in disbelief, talking and remembering our friend and co-worker. As we prepared to leave, one by one, the room had grown silent. A CD of Tommy’s recordings had been playing over the loudspeaker. Tommy’s voice sang ever so sweetly across the room. The lyrics of that last song haunt me still … “For all we know, we may never meet again.” Tommy was singing goodbye to his many friends and loved ones.

About a year or so ago, I received a telephone call from Vince’s wife, Patty. She said that, like his older brother before him, Vince had suffered a stroke. I wanted to come and visit my old friend and co-worker, but Patty was valiantly protecting her beloved husband’s dignity. They wanted Vince to be remembered as we had known him in happier times. Vince passed away earlier this past week, joining Tommy in Heaven. As I left the funeral home and church this morning, I got into my car, and turned on the radio. I drove along the lonely streets in quiet disbelief, and softly cried. Nat King Cole was singing “For all we know, we may never meet again.”

Vonda McIntyre Memorial

Frank Catalano has posted a gallery of photos from Vonda McIntyre’s memorial on Facebook.

Vonda N McIntyre’s memorial was held Sunday at The Mountaineers by Magnuson Park in Seattle. There was much conversation, storytelling, and sushi (seasoned with #scifi remembrances). Vonda’s writing and friendship brought us together, and will keep her with us.

[Thanks to Frank Catalano for the story.]

Dennis Etchison (1943-2019)

Dennis Etchison in 2014.

Horror author Dennis Etchison (1943-2019) died during the night on May 29 reports his Facebook page.

The title story of Etchison’s first short story collection, The Dark Country (1982) received the World Fantasy Award (tied with Stephen King), as well as the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection of the year – the first time one writer received both major awards for a single work.

In the course of his career he won the British Fantasy Award three times for fiction, and two World Fantasy Awards for anthologies he edited.

Etchison served as President of Horror Writers Association from 1992 to 1994.

Etchison’s novels include Darkside (1986), Shadowman (1993), and California Gothic (1995). His movie novelizations include John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), and (writing as “Jack Martin”) Halloween II (1981), Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), and Videodrome (1983).

In 2002, Etchison adapted nearly 100 episodes of the original Twilight Zone TV series for a CBS radio series hosted by Stacy Keach.

The Horror Writers of America recognized him with its lifetime achievement award in 2017.

Etchison frequently participated in events at the old Mystery & Imagination Bookstore in Glendale honoring Ray Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson. He appeared annually at the LA Vintage Paperback Show.

Pete Atkins and Dennis Etchison outside Mystery & Imagination Bookstore in 2009.

Jack Cohen (1933-2019)

Jack Cohen

By Jonathan Cowie: Sad news about a colleague who was one of the few to straddle my biological science and SF worlds. I was pleased to be paid to work with him professionally, and to drink with him socially at con bars. Dr Jack Cohen, biologist, author, SF author and SF fan, has passed.

Jack, as many of the older generation of biologists will know, was an active member of the Institute of Biology (IoB) and its W. Midlands Branch, as well as IoB Mission Control. He served a couple of terms on its Biomedical Science Committee (including when serviced by myself) as well as its Council.  Among many things, he helped draft the IoB’s (now adopted by the RSB) Royal Charter.

He was for much of his career based at Birmingham University where he was a whole-organism biologist specialising in reproductive biology as well as human biomedical aspects. Jack could talk sex.

Later in his career he moved to Warwick University.

He was known for a number of television appearances, and his image (uncaptioned) was even used to illustrate geniuses in a round of BBC’s Stephen Fry’s QI.  And he was the author of several popular science books.

As many older Brit SF fans will be aware, he was also active within the UK Science Fiction community and in the 1970s-1990s regularly gave talks at Birmingham’s annual Novacons and the UK national Eastercons.

Along with myself he was a special guest at the 1994 Eurocon in Timisoara, Romania, a few years after the Iron Curtain lifted.

He co-wrote a couple of SF novels with Warwick U.’s mathematician Ian Stewart FRS as well as a series of quirky and entertaining, non-fiction Science of Discworld books again with Ian and also Terry Pratchett.

Some further links:

Gene Wolfe (1931-2019)

Gene Wolfe in 1998. Photo taken by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Gene Wolfe died April 14 after a long battle with heart disease. Acknowledged as one of the field’s finest writers, his honors included a Life Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention in 1996, induction to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007, and recognition as a SFWA Grand Master in 2013.

John Clute aptly summed up Wolfe’s career in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction:

Though never the most popular nor the most influential author in the sf field, Wolfe remains quite possibly its most important, both for the intense literary achievement of his best work, and for the very considerable volume of work of the highest quality.

Wolfe was a particular favorite of the World Fantasy Convention membership, who voted him four World Fantasy Awards, for The Shadow of the Torturer (1981), Storeys from the Old Hotel (1989), Soldier of Sidon (2007), and The Very Best of Gene Wolfe/The Best of Gene Wolfe (2010).

Paradoxically, the respect for Wolfe’s cumulative record of accomplishment rarely translated into Hugo or Nebula award recognition for the individual books or stories. Although nominated nine times, he never won a Hugo. He won the first of his two Nebulas in sympathy for Isaac Asimov’s gaffe at the 1971 ceremony, mistakenly announcing that Wolfe’s story “Island of Dr. Death” had won, then while Wolfe was on his way to the dais correcting himself that No Award had finished first. The mistake was eventually redeemed, as Wolfe explained:

A month or so after the banquet I was talking to Joe Hensley, and he joked that I should write “The Death of Doctor Island,” saying that everyone felt so sorry for me that it was sure to win. I thought about that when I got home and decided to try, turning things inside out to achieve a different story.

He did, and his novella “The Death of Doctor Island” won a Nebula in 1974.

Isaac Asimov, David G. Hartwell, and Gene Wolfe in the Eighties. Photo taken by and (c) Andrew Porter.

Wolfe wrote over 30 novels, of which the best known are the five comprising The Book of The New Sun (The Shadow of the Torturer, The Claw of the Conciliator – his other Nebula winning work, The Sword of the Lictor, The Citadel of the Autarch, and The Urth of the New Sun.)

His first published story, “The Case of the Vanishing Ghost,” appeared in The Commentator for November 1951.

I can’t remember if the first time I saw Gene Wolfe at TorCon 2’s “Meet the Pros” party he was wearing one of the plastic straw hats SFWA President Jerry Pournelle urged on all the writers to make them more identifiable. That year Wolfe was a double Hugo nominee for his story “Against the Lafayette Escadrille” in Again, Dangerous Visions and “The Fifth Head of Cerberus” from Orbit 10.

He also cut a memorable figure as pro guest of honor at Aussiecon Two in 1985, where he made a fine speech, well-attuned to a fannish audience. He said that the difference between a real fan and a fake fan is that “A fake fan will always bring the discussion around to the book he’s read that year.” And he joked — with a dash of bitters — that the difference between a book publisher and a fanzine editor is that if a fanzine sells out the faneditor will print more.

An entire WolfeWiki is dedicated to his works and material about him

Gene’s wife, Rosemary, predeceased him in 2013. He is survived by two daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.


Photos taken by and (c) Andrew Porter

Science Fiction Author Vonda N. McIntyre, Official Obituary

By Tom Whitmore: Award-winning Seattle science fiction author Vonda N. McIntyre died April 1, 2019, of pancreatic cancer. She was 70.

McIntyre wrote novels, short stories and media tie-in books, edited a groundbreaking anthology of feminist SF, and founded the Clarion West Writing Workshop. She won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards for her 1979 novel Dreamsnake, and won the Nebula again for her 1996 novel The Moon and the Sun. Her short stories were also nominated for awards. In media fiction, she will probably be most remembered as the author who gave Ensign Sulu a first name (Hikaru) in her Star Trek novel The Entropy Effect: that name was later written into one of the Star Trek films. With Susan Janice Anderson, McIntyre edited one of the first feminist science fiction anthologies (Aurora: Beyond Equality, 1976). She was a participant in the Women in Science Fiction Symposium edited by Jeffrey D. Smith (Khatru #3/4, 1975 – reprinted with additional material as by Jeanne Gomoll, lulu.com, 2008) with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel R. Delany, James Tiptree Jr. and others. Her Nebula-winning fantasy novel The Moon and the Sun has been made into an as-yet-unreleased film, The King’s Daughter, starring Pierce Brosnan. Much of the film was shot in Versailles, and McIntyre delighted in telling how kind Brosnan was to her when she visited the set.

McIntyre founded Book View Café, a online publishing collective for member authors to sell their ebooks. When she developed some joint problems in her hands, she began making what she called “beaded sea creatures,” which she regularly gave to friends and charity auctions. She had a lively correspondence with Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner about them, and some of them are in the Smithsonian Institution.

Vonda Neel McIntyre was born in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1948. Her family moved to Seattle in the early 1960s, and she earned a BS in biology from the University of Washington. She went on to graduate school in genetics at UW. In 1970, she attended the Clarion SF Writing Workshop – and in 1971, with the blessing of Clarion founder Robin Scott Wilson, she founded the Clarion West Writing Workshop in Seattle. McIntyre continued to be involved with the workshop throughout her life. She enjoyed a close friendship with Ursula K. Le Guin throughout her career that including various editing and publishing ventures.

The Seattle science fiction community recalls McIntyre as the “fairy godmother” to hundreds of Clarion West graduates, many of whom have gone on to be bright stars in the publishing world. “Vonda was one of Clarion West’s founders, and has always been our fairy godmother, bringing comfort and whimsy to class after class with her impromptu visits and gifts of crocheted sea creatures,” said novelist Nisi Shawl, a Clarion West board member. “She was the Good Witch of the Northwest, a fearless public reader and a stellar private writer who is missed by all.”

A memorial service will be arranged in Seattle. McIntyre requested that, in lieu of flowers, people make memorial donations to one of their favorite charities.

For additional information, please call or email her agent, Frances Collin at fran@francescollin.com, 610-254-0555.

Vonda N. McIntyre did ten times as much behind the scenes in the science fiction community than she did out in the open. Her award-winning stories, her media tie-ins, and her editing were all quite visible, and important: more important in the long run will be her legacy of support for individuals and institutions.

After going to the Clarion workshop in Pennsylvania, where she roomed next to Octavia E. Butler, she decided to found a similar workshop on the West Coast. With the aid of Clarion founder Robin Scott Wilson, she started (and ran for three years) Clarion West; when Marilyn Holt and JT Stewart decided to restart it in the 1980s, she continued to advise and support the workshop. Most of Clarion West’s archives were stored in Vonda’s basement. She was a regular donor of both money and items for their auctions.

She was the webmaster for SFWA for many years, and the webmaster for Book View Café ase well.

She supported more writers than anyone realizes. Her friendship and support for Ursula K. Le Guin is well known: they published holiday cards together, and each regularly mentioned the other. She also was strong writing support for James Tiptree Jr., Paul Preuss, Molly Gloss, Nicola Griffith, Nisi Shawl, Octavia E. Butler, and just about anyone else who she met who wrote. She also listened to and cared for folks who didn’t write. She was a quiet, tireless force helping bring women’s voices forth in the SF community.

Her beaded sea creatures are almost pure Vonda. When she began to develop some pain in her hands from arthritis, she decided to take her crocheting skills and create beaded shapes reminiscent of nudibranchs and fractal patterns to give her the needed exercise to keep her hands supple. She began giving them to friends, donating them to charity auctions, and talking with people about them. She had a lively correspondence with Martin Gardner about them. The Smithsonian has examples of her work as well.

Vonda also helped out in small ways. Greg Bear commented about how happy Vonda was to wheel him around when he was temporarily in a wheelchair at the memorial for Karen K. Anderson, his mother-in-law. Every convention organizer who ever had her as a guest was pleased with her smile and her kindness to people working on the convention. She would not accept mistreatment, but never attacked. She had stories about all her friends, and would tell them whenever it was appropriate.

The SF community lost a major pillar today.

Vonda N. McIntyre (1948-2019)

Vonda McIntyre

Coming rapidly after a cancer diagnosis eight weeks ago, Vonda McIntyre’s death on April 1 was announced on her Caringbridge page by Jeanne Gomoll:

Vonda N. McIntyre died at 6:25 pm, Pacific Time, in no pain and surrounded by friends. The funeral home has collected her body which will be cremated. Vonda was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on February 7; her death came swiftly, just short of two months later. Vonda’s posse and local friends will get together for a brief gathering within the next couple days. A reception that is open to the public will be scheduled within about a month and will be announced here on CaringBridge as soon as the details are known. Good-bye, Vonda.

McIntyre won her first Nebula Award in 1973, for the novelette ‘”Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand”. This later became part of the novel Dreamsnake (1978), which won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards. She won a third Nebula in 1998 for The Moon and the Sun. Overall, McIntyre was a five-time Hugo nominee and eight-time Nebula nominee.

After attending Robin Scott Wilson’s last Clarion Writers Workshop at State College, PA in 1970, she transplanted the idea to Seattle. She later said that “Neither James Sallis nor I could bear the idea that the workshop would die.  We both got Robin’s blessing to start workshops.  Jim’s was at Tulane, and the one I helped run was at the University of Washington. I called the Seattle one ‘Clarion West’; it seemed a good idea at the time.”

The Tulane workshop only lasted the one year. The Seattle Clarion West lasted three years, before McIntyre found it too difficult to continue managing the conference while being a graduate student. (The Clarion West Writers Workshop was resumed by different organizers in the 1980s.)

McIntyre’s debut novel, The Exile Waiting, was published in 1975. She wrote many Star Trek and Star Wars novels. In 1976, McIntyre co-edited Aurora: Beyond Equality, a feminist/humanist science fiction anthology, with Susan Janice Anderson.

A movie, The King’s Daughter, based on Vonda McIntyre’s The Moon and the Sun, is still awaiting its U.S. release. (IMDB says sometime in 2019.)

She won SFWA’s Service Award in 2010, and the Science Fiction Research Association’s Clareson Award in 2015.

Vonda McIntyre was a guest of honor at Sasquan, the 2015 Worldcon.

McIntyre was a very popular convention guest who always loved to pitch in with the committee to get things ready. I thought it was a tribute to her that one year when she was the guest of an LA convention she helped stuff registration bags — and when that was done seemed a little astonished that people didn’t have more for her to do!

Another Brother for Diversity

By John Hertz: (reprinted from No Direction Home 3) André Previn (1929-2019), Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (no Commonwealth citizen, he could use the initials K.B.E. but not the honorific Sir), died six weeks before his 90th birthday.  He had come to the United States (1938) from Germany via France; English was his third language, which he learned from comic books and films with a dictionary, like Nathaniel Bowditch while a boy learning Latin to read Newton’s Principia (1687) as I was taught by Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (J. Latham, 1955) in 5th Grade, except young Nat used a Bible.

By 1946 Previn was working for Metro-Goldwin-Mayer and in 1949 earned his first film credit, the music-score for The Sun Comes Up (R. Thorpe dir.; 4th film about the collie Lassie).

While serving with the Army he managed during 1951-1953 to get lessons in conducting from Pierre Monteux. He won four Academy Awards (1958-1959 [Music – Scoring of a Musical Picture, Gigi {V. Minnelli dir. 1958}, Porgy & Bess {O. Preminger dir. 1959}], 1963-1964 [Score – Adaptation or Treatment, Irma la Douce {B. Wilder dir. 1963}, My Fair Lady {G. Cukor dir. 1964}]; eleven nominations; so far the only person to receive three nominations in one year, 1961; the soundtrack albums for Gigi and Porgy & Bess won Grammys too).  Uncontent he developed a new career, or maybe two, in classical music and jazz.  His discography runs into the hundreds.

On piano, with drummer Shelly Manne and bassist Leroy Vinnegar, he recorded Modern Jazz Performances of Songs from “My Fair Lady” (1956, as by “Shelly Manne and His Friends”, Contemporary 3527), the first album consisting entirely of jazz treatments of tunes from a single Broadway musical, the first jazz album to sell a million copies; Lady had then been running on Broadway only five months.  An interview and music-making with Oscar Peterson (1925-2007) for the British Broadcasting Company’s Omnibus (1 Dec 74) was applauded as “one of the greatest hours I ever saw on television” by Marlon Brando. Previn received the Glenn Gould Prize in 2005, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 (eight other Grammys); O.P., the Gould in 1993, Lifetime Achievement in 1997.  Previn with Ella Fitzgerald in 1983 recorded Nice Work If You Can Get It (Pablo Digital D2312140; the jacket by Al Hirschfeld shows P & F and both Gershwin brothers  – for extra credit, where’s H’s Nina [his daughter’s name, which he characteristically worked in]?); five dozen jazz records through Alone (2007; EmArcy, ASIN B01G99X0DY).  Dizzy Gillespie  said, “He has the flow….  A lot of guys, they have the technique, the harmonic sense…. the perfect co-ordination….  But you need something more…. you got to have the flow.”

Previn recorded chamber music of Mozart (1756-1791), Debussy (1862-1918), Ravel (1875-1937).  He recorded Rachmaninov’s Music for Two Pianos (Suite No. 1, 1893; Suite No. 2, 1901) with Vladimir Ashkenazy (Decca 444 845-2, 1974).  He was if anything still more famous as a conductor, inter alia principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra 1968-1979; music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra 1975-1985 (a television series Previn and the Pittsburgh ran 1977-1980; three Emmy nominations), of the Los Angeles Philharmonic 1985-1989.  Speaking of Rachmaninov, Ashkenazy and the LSO, all four piano concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (1934, which some call R’s fifth piano concerto) are on a Decca 3-CD set (ASIN B000076GYF; recorded 1970-1971).  The first complete recording of Rachmaninov’s Symphony No, 2 (1907) was Previn’s in 1970 with the LSO (Warner Classics, ASIN B00000K4FI), which in 2015 Gramophone reviewing all recordings to date called “an interpretation [that] retains its legendary emotional charge” (12 Mar; also noting “Jack Brymer navigated the Adagio’s endless [clarinet] cantilena … with unparalleled subtlety”).

I’ve left a lot out.  Auditioning for George Szell, who with no piano at hand (I wish I’d invented that pun) said “Play on that tabletop”; after a while, Szell directing “Slower; faster; more tender,” Previn said “I’m sorry, Maestro, my tabletop at home has a much different action,” and Szell threw him out.  Comic appearances as “Andrew Preview” on The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show (BBC television 1971-1972; in 2005 “Taxi drivers still call me ‘Mr. Preview’”).  Career as a composer.  Five marriages, one of which lasting seventeen years produced a Hollywood memoir No Minor Chords (1991) edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994), the fifth though also ending in divorce producing such an ongoing collaboration that Previn joked “the divorce that didn’t work.”

I wish we had more diversity, but we have more than we used to.  Obviousness is relative, and so of course is fame.  You may never have heard of Previn, Gigi, Fitzgerald, chamber music, Gramophone.  It’s still unusual that Previn was active, and achieved, in different media, or idioms, or subcultures, for which he’s now praised – although I’m not here to say he’d have been less praiseworthy if he’d done wonders in only one – and for which he was sometimes then, and is sometimes now, thought questionable.  I try not to make unreasonable assumptions.  Let’s not, any of us.

On February 28th, the day of Previn’s death, The Guardian quoted Andrew Marriner of the LSO (Bymer’s successor as principal clarinet, son of Sir Neville Marriner), “it was the extraordinary sound [Previn] conjured from an orchestra, unmistakably his own, that dazzled….  he drew the players into a deeply moving collaboration.  His touch on the piano in Mozart piano concertos and in chamber music was divine.”  May his memory be for a blessing.

The sweet season that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill and eke the vale;
The nightingale with feathers new she sings,
The turtledove to mate hath told her tale.
Summer is soon, for every spray now springs,
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale,
The buck in brake his winter coat he flings,
The fishes fleet with new repaired scale,
The adder all her slough away she slings,
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale,
The busy bee her honey now she mings —
Winter is worn, that was the flowers’ bale:
And thus I see, among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs.
               Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547)