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André Watts, Pioneering Classical Pianist, Passes Away at 77

André Watts, Classical Pianist, Dies at 77

Renowned classical pianist André Watts, known as one of the first Black superstars in the world of classical music, has passed away at the age of 77. His exceptional career and accomplishments have made an enduring impact on the music industry. Watts, hailed for his extraordinary talent and captivating performances, succumbed to prostate cancer at his home in Bloomington, Indiana.

André Watts: A Pianist’s Journey to Success

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André Watts, a trailblazing pianist, captivated audiences with his dynamic stage presence, often swaying to the music with his head and feet. While some conservative critics raised objections, his technical skills propelled him to the highest ranks of concert halls. At just 16 years old, Watts won an audition to perform alongside Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in the Young People’s Concerts series.

Source: James J. Kriegsmann

His exceptional performance earned him praise, and he soon received a significant opportunity. Bernstein personally invited him to debut with the Philharmonic, filling in for renowned pianist Glenn Gould. The success of this performance solidified Watts’ career in the music industry.

André Watts: Mother’s Influence, Grammy Win, and Loving Family

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André Watts attributed much of his success to the significant influence of his mother, who worked as a receptionist at an art gallery to support his piano lessons and instilled a disciplined practice routine. In 1964, following his debut with Bernstein, Watts achieved further recognition by winning a Grammy Award for most promising new classical recording artist.

He is survived by his loving wife, Joan Brand Watts, stepson William Dalton, stepdaughter Amanda Rees, and seven step-grandchildren.