André Watts (born June 20, 1946) is a classical pianist and Professor at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University. Born in Nuremberg, Germany, Watts is the son of a Hungarian mother, Maria Alexandra Gusmits, who played the piano, and African-American father, Herman Watts, a U.S. Army non-commissioned officer. After studying music in Philadelphia and appearing with the Philadelphia Orchestra at age nine, he received a wider audience when he made his television debut in a nationally televised concert with the New York Philharmonic in 1963 at just sixteen. His first world tour was in 1967. He is mostly associated with 19th century music.
Watts was raised in Europe, living mostly near army posts where his father was stationed, until he was eight years old and Herman's military assignment led to the family moving to the United States. They settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Watts began to study the violin when he was four. By six he decided the piano was his instrument. His mother, a pianist herself, started him with his first lessons. Like most children, Watts disliked practicing. For encouragement, his mother would tell stories of great musician, pianist and composer Franz Liszt, making it clear that Liszt practiced faithfully. Watts found inspiration in Liszt, adopting his theatrical playing style. After the divorce of his parents in 1962, Watts remained with his mother, who supported the two, working as a secretary and later as a receptionist.
He enrolled at the Philadelphia Musical Academy (now a part of The University of the Arts), where he studied with Genia Robinor, Doris Bawden, and Clement Petrillo, graduating in June 1963. He entered his first competition at nine, with forty other children for the opportunity to perform with the Philadelphia Orchestra Children's Concerts. Watts won the competition playing a piano concerto by Joseph Haydn.