Wednesday, 27 November 2013


The biography of Pietro Damiani has just been published on


Pietro Damiani (born in Manerbio, 1933) hails from the Northern Italian region of Lombardy. He studied the clarinet at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory, Milan (1948-1953), graduating ‘cum laude’. Later, first at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome, later again at the Verdi institute, he devoted himself to composition and instrumentation of wind band, and to choral music and choir direction. After having worked as a music teacher and conductor of different orchestras and choirs in his home region, he was appointed artistic director of the Civica Filarmonica Orchestra in Lugano, Switzerland, in 1968 – a fruitful collaboration, resulting in countless concerts and many recordings, which lasted for thirty years. Damiani's orchestra has time and again been recognized as Switzerland's best wind band by winning multiple editions of the Federal Music Festival. In ’77, Damiani, who worked as a teacher for over half a century, founded a music school in Lugano. Since 1998, he has been able to spend more time on composing.

In 1997, Pietro Damiani found himself in a world which was not his: that of popular music, or, to be more specific: Eurovision. He was asked to conduct the song ‘Dentro di me’, performed by Barbara Berta, which was selected as the Swiss entry for that year. He wrote the orchestration to the song at the request of its studio arranger, Fabio Ciboldi, a former trumpet player in his wind orchestra. In Dublin, Damiani could not help Barbara Berta to a respectable position: the song only received five points, finishing 22nd in a field of 25 competing entries. 


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

JICK NACASSIAN = Χατζίκ ‘Τζίκ’ Νακασιάν (

The biography of Greek composer, arranger, conductor, and pop vocalist Jick Nacassian has just been published on


Studying privately with Costas Clavvas and later at the Ethniko Odeio Conservatory in Athens, Jick Nacassian (ΧατζίκΤζίκΝακασιάν, born in Athens 1951) got recognition as a musician by participating several times in the Salonica Festival as a songwriter in the mid-1970s. As a composer and arranger, he worked with most of Greece's most popular recording artist. Moreover, he worked as the musical director of several nightclubs in Athens and Salonica. As an arranger and conductor, he participated in sixteen editions of the Salonica Festival between 1975 and 1997. In 2011, he released his first solo record as a vocalist, 'Chronia asiderota'.

Jick Nacassian composed and arranged the song ‘Autostop’ (lyrics: Rony Sophou), which won the Greek Eurovision heats in 1980. It was sung by Anna Vissi, who, for the international final, was backed up by the runners-up from the national final, the group Epikouroi. Nacassian conducted the Metropole Orchestra in The Hague during the rendition of his own song, which came thirteenth among nineteen contestants. Due to the bad result and the negative energy involved in this Eurovision experience, Jick felt forced to leave Greece and try his luck in New York for several years. Nacassian never conducted a Eurovision orchestra again, but he conducted half of the songs in the 1988 Greek pre-selection and moreover participated in that same selection programme as an interpreter of his self-penned song 'Paratiro' in 1991.

Monday, 4 November 2013


The biography of Guy Matteoni has just been published on

Pianist and arranger Guy Matteoni hails from Southern France. He was member of a pop group and had a short singing career himself. He was the assistant to movie composer Michel Magne and worked as an arranger in the recording studios, with various hits to his credit, such as ‘Dansez maintenant’ by Dave (1975) and ‘Elle’ by Didier Barbelivien (1980). All major hit records of Gérard Lenorman were arranged by Matteoni as well. He wrote the orchestration to the soundtrack of ‘Gwendoline’ (1984). In 1986, Mattéoni set up a recording studio with Claude Mainguy.

Guy Matteoni conducted three French Eurovision entries: ‘Je suis l’enfant-soleil’ by Anne-Marie David (1979), ‘Chanteur de charme’ by Gérard Lenorman (1988), and ‘J’ai volé la vie’ by Nathalie Pâque (1989). This last-mentioned song was composed by Matteoni himself; all songs had arrangements written by him. Mattéoni also orchestrated the 1978 Portuguese entry ‘Dai-li-dou’ and the 1983 French entry ‘Vivre’ – but these songs were conducted by Thilo Krassman and François Rauber respectively.

Monday, 21 October 2013

In memoriam GIANNI FERRIO (1924-2013) (

On October 21st, 2013, Gianni Ferrio passed away, aged 88. He conducted two songs in the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Naples.

From the 1940s onwards, Gianni Ferrio worked as an arranger and studio conductor for different record companies (including RCA Victor and CGD) and a string of artists, most notably Mina, with whom he had a lifelong working relationship, up until her last album in 2005. He wrote some of Mina’s best-known songs, including ‘Non gioco più’ (1975). His most famous composition is arguably ‘Paroles, paroles’, which, sung by Dalida and Alain Delon, became a European hit in 1973. He wrote scores to more than seventy feature films, amongst which ‘Un dollaro bucato’ (1965) and ‘Tutti a squola’ (1979).

As a conductor, he worked on many broadcasts of Italian public TV network RAI; he was the musical director of the Sanremo Festivals on two occasions, in partnership with William Galassini (in 1959) and Cinico Angelini (in 1962). In those days, Ferrio was considered to be a modernist conductor, because his orchestra included a prominent brass section. In 2007, he made a surprise return to the Sanremo Festival (after an absence of 45 years!) as the composer, arranger, and conductor of Johnny Dorelli’s ballad ‘Meglio così’.

Gianni Ferrio was the musical director of the tenth Eurovision Song Contest, held in Naples in 1965. He not only conducted the Italian entry ‘Se piangi, se ridi’ (sung by Bobby Solo), but also the songs submitted by Austria and Ireland – the first ever Irish entry in the contest.

Some links:

Gianni Ferrio's biography on

Gianni Ferrio's Eurovision performances in 1965:
Italy (Bobby Solo):
Ireland (Butch Moore):

Gianni Ferrio in Sanremo 2007 with Johnny Dorelli:

Ferrio's best-known composition: Paroles paroles - Dalida / Alain Delon:

Monday, 14 October 2013

In memoriam MATS OLSSON (1929-2013) (

As became known just a couple of days ago, Mats Olsson, Swedish jazz pianist, record arranger, A&R manager, and TV conductor, passed away on September 11th, aged 83. interviewed Mats Olsson in December 2010. Below, a short synopsis of this interview has been added. The full interview can be found by clicking

Already as a child, Mats Olsson developed a passion for modern classical composers Hindemith and Stravinsky; not much later, he discovered jazz music. When his music teacher in secondary school discovered Mats' absolute pitch, the young boy decided to aim at a career as a music professional. Between 1947 and 1950, Olsson studied at Stockholm's Royal Academy of Music. When, however, he concluded that his original ambition of becoming a church organist was - to use his own expression - 'not my cup of tea', he left the academy and continued studying with several teachers privately for some years. Meanwhile, he immersed himself in the Swedish jazz and entertainment scene. Between 1947 and 1958, he played the piano in several orchestras, including those of Seymour Österwall and Thore Ehrling. Moreover, Olsson also penned tons of arrangements for the bands he played in.

In 1957, he was signed by Grammofon AB Electra as its staff arranger. Until 1969, he wrote the record arrangements for many of Sweden's major record stars, including Lars Lerbäck, Jan Malmsjö, Family Four, Towa Carson, and Claes Göran Hederström. Olsson's solo instrumental album 'From Sweden with love' (1958) was a considerable international success. In the last three years with Electra (1967-'69), he doubled as the company's A&R manager. Between 1970 and 1977, Olsson worked for CBS as an arranger and talent scout. In 1977, Olsson founded his own record label, Planet Records, specializing in releasing children's repertoire. In the world of television, Olsson arranged and conducted many jazz and entertainment programmes, most prominently the music quiz 'Notknäckarna' (1981-1990). After selling Planet (1995), he kept on penning brass band and orchestra arrangements which were played in Scandinavia and Germany.

Mats Olsson has a quite impressive Eurovision record, having been involved in the competition in a period spanning thirty-five years (1961-1996). He arranged and conducted countless songs for the Melodifestival, Sweden's Eurovision pre-selection, including winners 'April-april' for Lill-Babs (1961) and 'En gång i Stockholm for Monica Zetterlund (1963). On top of that, he composed the 1973 Melodifestival entry 'En frusen ros'. On the international stage, Olsson conducted three Swedish Eurovision entries: 'Som en dröm' (Östen Warnebring, Vienna 1967), 'Det börjar verka kärlek, banne mej' (Claes-Göran Hederström, London 1968), and, lastly, 'Härliga sommardag' (Family Four, Edinburgh 1972). In 1975, after the musicians of the SR Symphony Orchestra refused Lars Samuelson as their MD, Olsson was requested by Swedish Television to be the chief conductor of the international Eurovision final, which was held in Stockholm.

Claes-Göran Hederström recalls how Mats Olsson showed his professionalism as a conductor in London's Royal Albert Hall (1968): "While we were together at Eurovision in the Royal Albert Hall in London, Mats proved he was able to lead an orchestra in the most literal sense of the word. During one of the days leading up to the contest, we were the last country to rehearse our item. The orchestra musicians were both tired and bored. The drummer, who had an important part in the intro of our song, failed to follow the score correctly. Mats corrected him in a low and distinct voice. However, this musician made the same mistake the second time around. Again, Mats – in an even lower voice – told him that, if he failed to do it right for the third time in a row, he could easily get him replaced. All musicians were dead silent. However, the third time they really nailed it! The saxophonist even rose and played ad lib, which made everybody smile – even the drummer!”

Some links:
Mats Olsson as a singer in a duet with Towa Carson:
One of his Eurovision performances (1968):

Monday, 23 September 2013

In memoriam PAUL KUHN (1928-2013) (

On September 23rd, 2013, German jazz musician and entertainer Paul Kuhn passed away, aged 85.

Paul Kuhn studied at the Music Gymnasium in Frankfurt and the Wiesbaden Conservatory. Already during his student days, he worked as a jazz pianist. In the 1950s and early 1960s, he was a very successful vocalist of popular songs such as ‘Der Mann am Klavier’ (1954) and ‘Es gibt kein Bier auf Hawaii’ (1963). Around the same time, he was a regular TV host as well, amongst others of a show named after him, ‘Hallo Paulchen’. Between 1968 and 1980, he was the conductor of the SFB Big Band, the orchestra of the West Berlin broadcaster. In 1981, he founded a new variety orchestra in Cologne, which toured with Peter Alexander. From the 1990s onwards, Kuhn again focused on his roots as a jazz musician, founding a Paul Kuhn Trio and (from 2000 onwards) touring with fellow band leaders Max Greger and Hugo Strasser along with the SWR Big Band. In 2010, he was awarded with the ECHO Jazz Prize for lifetime achievement.

In 1957, Paul Kuhn was one of the candidates to be the West German representative in the Eurovision Song Contest, but he came third in a preselection won by Margot Hielscher. In 1972, the West German Eurovision heats were held in West Berlin and Paul Kuhn and his SFB Big Band accompanied all contestants. The Vorentscheid was won by Mary Roos and her powerful effort ‘Nur die Liebe lässt uns leben’, which had been arranged flamboyantly by Jo Plée. Paul Kuhn also conducted the orchestra in the Eurovision finals in Edinburgh for Mary Roos, where she came third among eighteen contestants.

Das Klavier über mir:

Nur die Liebe lässt uns leben:

More info about all Conductors of Eurovision:


Friday, 13 September 2013



A comprehensive English career overview of Atilla Sereftug has been published at

Atilla Sereftug conducted Switzerland's entries in the Eurovision Song Contests of 1986 and 1988.

Some random facts about Atilla Sereftug:
* Born in Istanbul (Turkey), 1950
* Started his professional career as a pianist at 13 years of age
* Studied piano at Istanbul's conservatory
* Played piano, keyboard, and Hammond organ in various Turkish avant-garde and jazz formations, including the Istanbul Gelisim Orkestrasi
* Moved to Switzerland in the late 1970s, where he worked with various pop and entertainment formations until establishing himself as a composer and record producer.
* Composed and conducted the winning Eurovision song for Céline Dion: "Ne partez pas sans moi" (1988)
* Married to singer Daniela Simons, who represented Switzerland in 1986 with another song composed and conducted by Sereftug, "Pas pour moi", which finished in second place

Find out much more about Atilla Sereftug's life story and Eurovision memories at

Friday, 23 August 2013

In memoriam BOB PORTER (Bob Van Peborgh) 1945-2013 (

Very sad news from Belgium: on Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 in his native Lier, Bob Porter (pseudonym of Bob Van Peborgh) passed away. He was only 68 years old.

A genuine multi-instrumentalist, Bob Porter alternatively played the flute, piano, Rhodes piano, synthesizer, and vibraphone. For many years, he was a member of Etienne Verschueren's BRT Jazz Orchestra, of which he became the chief conductor in 1987. Four years later, the orchestra was disbanded. In the 1990s, he worked freelance as an arranger for many artists in the Netherlands and Belgium, including Günther Neefs.

In 1996, Bob Porter conducted the final of 'De Gouden Zeemeermin', that year's Eurovision pre-selection, held in Knokke. He also accompanied the winner of that competition, Lisa Del Bo, to the international festival final in Oslo, conducting the Norwegian Radio Orchestra for her performance. With her song 'Liefde is een kaartspel' (composed by John Terra and arranged by Pino Marchese), Lisa Del Bo obtained a sixteenth position for Belgium.

More information about Bob Porter can be found on And The Conductor Is, the home of All Conductors of Eurovision:

Photo: Bob Porter at the 1972 Jazz Middelheim Festival as part of the Palle Mikkelborg Sextet. A link to the performance: 

Monday, 19 August 2013



José Luis Navarro, Spanish pianist and arranger who worked with Julio Iglesias, was the conductor for Spain in the 1979 Eurovision Song Contest.

A short biography of José Luis Navarro can be found at:

If you have more information about José Luis Navarro or know how to get in touch with him for an interview, please leave a message via the contact form of the website (section 'about').




Magdi Vasco Noverraz, pianist and keyboard player from Martinique (French Antilles), was the conductor for France in the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest.

A short biography of Magdi Vasco Noverraz can be found at:

If you have more information about Magdi Vasco Noverraz or know how to get in touch with him for an interview, please leave a message via the contact form of the website (section 'about').




Thierry Durbet, French arranger, was the conductor for Luxembourg in the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest.

A short biography of Thierry Durbet can be found at:

If you have more information about Thierry Durbet or know how to get in touch with him for an interview, please leave a message via the contact form of the website (section 'about').




A comprehensive English career overview of Peter Jacques has been published at

Peter Jacques conducted Switzerland's entries in the Eurovision Song Contests of 1975 and 1977.

Some random facts about Peter Jacques:
* Born in Czechoslovakia, 1935, as the son of a Belarusian violinist and a Swiss mother
* Repatriated to Switzerland after the war, studied classical piano at the Winterthur Conservatory, but took up a passion for jazz.
* After doing a stint with Chet Baker in Milan, Peter Jacques moved to Sweden, where he worked as a pianist and arranger for eight years (1956-1964).
* Worked and lived in Munich for nine years (1964-1973) as a freelance arranger, working for (amongst others) BBC and ZDF Television.
* Became one of the Kapellmeisters of the DRS Big Band, the orchestra of German-Swiss radio, where he stayed until the orchestra's demise (1973-1986).
* Hosted programme 'Jazz in Concert' on Swiss TV for ten years (1983-1993).
* Performed solo as a pianist-keyboardist-singer for Kofi Annan in Accra (1999).

Find out much more about Peter Jacques's life story and Eurovision memories at


Friday, 16 August 2013



A comprehensive English career overview of Dick Bakker has been published at

Dick Bakker conducted the Netherlands' entries in the Eurovision Song Contests of 1996, 1997, and 1998

Some random facts about Dick Bakker:
* Born 1947, Blaricum
* Studied composition at Hilversum's conservatory
* Worked as a sound engineer before becoming involved in arranging lots of hit material, e.g. by the George Baker Selection and Shocking Blue.
* Composed 'Ding-a-dong' (winner Eurovision 1975) and 'I remember Elvis Presley' (1977)
* Later specialized in composing advertising music
* Conductor of the Metropole Orchestra from 1992 to 2005

Find out much more about Dick Bakker's life story and Eurovision memories at