Andre Watts, a professor of piano who held the Jack I. and Dora B. Hamlin Endowed Chair in Music at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, died on July 12. He was 77 years old and had suffered from prostate cancer.
Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Watts was a piano prodigy, receiving his first piano lessons from his mother after deciding to discontinue his initial studies of the violin. When the family relocated to Philadelphia, he began playing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 9. He performed with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic at the age of 16. He later earned a bachelor’s degree at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University.
Professor Watts appeared with celebrated orchestras and conductors around the world. He won a Grammy Award in 1964 for the most promising new classical recording artist. When he was 26 years old, Watts received an honorary degree from Yale University, the youngest person to be so honored by the university at that time.
Watts joined the faculty at Indiana University in 2004. In 2011, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts by President Obama. In 2014, Professor Watts was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame. Watt was awarded the rank of Distinguished Professor at Indiana University in 2017. This is the highest academic rank at the university.