In Memoriam: Remembering Pianist André Watts

John E. Forsyte, President & CEO

Today, we bid farewell to a remarkable musician, the incomparable pianist André Watts. His untimely passing leaves a void in the world of classical music that will be deeply felt for years to come. Watts’s extraordinary talent, dedication, and heartfelt performances touched the souls of countless listeners, and his musical legacy will continue to inspire generations to come.

One of the most notable collaborations in Watts’s illustrious career was his frequent partnership with Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair and the musicians of Pacific Symphony. Together, they created breathtaking moments of musical poetry, dazzling virtuosity, and refinement.

In 2002, the bond between Watts and St.Clair transcended beyond the realm of music, when Carl’s decisive action saved Watts’s life. Just moments before a performance of Brahms’ monumental Piano Concerto No. 1 was scheduled to begin, Carl recognized the signs of a potentially life-threatening condition. André complained of severe headaches but was ready to go on to perform. Carl, however, called in an emergency. With clear concern for his dear friend and collaborator, St.Clair acted swiftly, ensuring that Watts was rushed to the hospital where it was determined that he needed emergency brain surgery. During André’s recovery, Carl was a frequent visitor to the hospital bedside to provide comfort to him and his wife Joan.

This courageous and selfless act not only demonstrated Carl’s profound dedication to the well-being of his fellow musicians but also underscored the deep bond that exists within the music community. It is a testament to the strength of their artistic partnership and the genuine care they held for one another as human beings. Once recovered, André made sure to prioritize a return to Pacific Symphony for a collaboration with Carl, which had a poignancy I will never forget.

Today, as we remember André Watts, we celebrate his immense contributions to the world of music and cherish the memories of his captivating performances. We honor his enduring legacy and the lasting impact he made not only as a pianist but a great friend, storyteller, and educator. His Pacific Symphony family will miss him greatly.

In Memoriam: Remembering Pianist André Watts
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