Thursday, 14 August 2014

In memoriam JACQUES LASRY (

On March 26th, 2014, in Jerusalem (Israel), French composer and multi-instrumentalist Jacques Lasry passed away, aged 96.

An extensive biography of Jacques Lasry, based on an interview by in December 2011, can be found following this link:


Jacques Lasry was born into a French-Jewish family in Alger (then French Algeria), 1918. Discovering music on his uncle's Boisselot piano, he followed piano lessons and studied chamber music, before entering the Alger Conservatory (piano studies: 1932-'36). As his ambition was to be a concert pianist, he decided to move to Paris to continue his studies at the Ecole Normale de Musique. It was there that he met his fellow student and future wife Yvonne. Meanwhile, Lasry also studied the piano privately with the renowned Marguerite Long.

The Second World War heralded a watershed in Lasry's career. Forced to abandon his studies and France, he escaped the German invasion by fleeing back to Algeria. Upon his return to Paris in 1945, he started earning his money as a piano accompanist. After a tour which took Jacques and Yvonne to Denmark and Sweden, Jacques became the pianist of the Milord d'Arsouille, Paris' famous cabaret littéraire. Here he accompanied the likes of Michèle Arnaud and Serge Gainsbourg, whilst also impressing the cabaret's guests with his improvisations. Charlie Chaplin wanted him to become his accompanist, but Lasry turned down this offer. 

In the 1950s, Lasry occasionally worked as a studio arranger, mainly for the artists with which he worked in the Milord d'Arsouille. When Michèle Arnaud was selected to represent Luxembourg in the very first Eurovision Song Contest (Lugano, 1956), Jacques Lasry accompanied her as an arranger and conductor of the two titles with which she participated, 'Ne crois pas' and 'Les amants de minuit'.

In the late 1950s, Lasry and his friend François Baschet invented the Cristal, a metal construction which produces sound from oscillating glass cilinders. With Yvonne Lasry and Bernard Baschet, they formed the quartet Les Structures Sonores Lasry-Baschet, which toured in Europe and even performed in the Ed Sullivan Show in New York, recording several albums, most prominently 'Chronophagie' (1954), which was re-released internationally as 'The Time Eaters' in 1960. Lasry composed his own music for the Cristal, whilst also re-arranging classical pieces for this particular instrument.

In the 1960s, Lasry was regularly commissioned to write film soundtracks, such as 'Le roi du village' (1963). In 1968, he converted to orthodox judaism, abandoning all of his professional activities. Jacques and Yvonne moved to Israel in 1978 to settle down in Jerusalem.

Much more about Jacques Lasry's career and Eurovision memories, as well as interesting photo and video material, can be found at

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


The biography of Frank Fievez, based on an interview with him by And The Conductor Is, has recently been published on, the home of All Conductors of Eurovision. Frank Fievez conducted Belgium's Eurovision entry in 1992, 'Nous on veut des violons', performed by Morgane.

Hyperlink to Frank Fievez' biography:


Franz ‘Frank’ Fievez was born in Wihéries, Belgium (1942). He was a childhood prodigy on the accordion and won several accordion festivals at a very young age. Later onwards, he switched to the piano. Though he worked as a school teacher for some time, his passion was always music. In 1968, Belgian superstar Adamo persuaded Fievez to give up his daytime job to become a fulltime musician. For almost twenty-five years, Fievez was Adamo's pianist and orchestra leader, accompanying him on tours across the globe. Notably, he wrote the string and brass parts for one of Adamo's biggest hits, 'C'est ma vie'. Meanwhile, Fievez worked as a session musician and conductor for TV shows. He composed hit songs such as ‘Aime moi’ for Claude Barzotti and wrote orchestrations for Claude Barzotti, Frank Michael, Christian Rineldi, and Maria Miel. Moreover, Fievez taught jazz music at the Saint-Ghislain and Baudour Music Academies for several decades before retiring in 2002.

Eurovision involvement

Frank Fievez conducted the Belgian entry in the 1992 Eurovision Song Contest, ‘Nous on veut des violons’, composed by Claude Barzotti and arranged by Bernard Estardy. Fievez subsequently reworked the studio arrangement into a suitable live orchestration for the Eurovision orchestra. It was interpreted by young Morgane (Ingrid Simonis). In Malmö, this Belgian entry finished twentieth among twenty-three competing acts. 

Read about Frank Fievez' Eurovision memories, as well as much more about his involvement with Adamo and Claude Barzotti by clicking:

Saturday, 14 June 2014


The biography of Austrian guitarist, composer, arranger, and conductor Norbert Daum, based on an interview And The Conductor Is did with him in July 2013,  has recently been published online @ 

Norbert Daum (born in Braunau-am-Inn, 1948), who grew up in Vienna and Hagen (North-Rhine Westphalia, West Germany) studied the violin, guitar, and piano as well as composition and conducting. Between 1965 and 1971, he was a member of the beat band The Substitutes. Since ’71, Daum has lived in Munich, initially working as the assistant of film composer and arranger Gert Wilden. In Wilden's studio, he met composer and record producer Ralph Siegel, with whom he developed a close working relationship, writing orchestrations for countless Siegel productions. As a freelancer, Daum wrote more than 3000 orchestrations and worked with numerous artists in all genres, varying from crossover and outright classical music to German folk music and with artists such as Peter Alexander, Vicky Leandros, Karel Gott, Demis Roussos, and Die Jungen Tenöre. He arranged Gilbert Bécaud’s 1985 French chart success ‘Desiree’. He composed music for movies (e.g. ‘Go Trabi go’) and television (e.g. ‘Ein Fall für zwei’).

Eurovision involvement

As a conductor, Norbert Daum participated in the Eurovision Song Contest on seven occasions for West Germany (twice), the united Germany (three times), and Luxembourg (twice). The most famous of the songs on which Daum worked, is no doubt ‘Ein bisschen Frieden’, which was also arranged by him. This song, composed by Ralph Siegel and performed by Nicole, was West Germany’s first-ever win in the Eurovision Song Contest. With the exception of ‘Viel zu weit’ (Münchener Freiheit, 1993), all songs which Daum conducted were composed by Siegel. Norbert Daum’s involvement in the contest did not stop after the last ‘orchestra year’ (1998). In 1999, he conducted the strings for the German entry ‘Reise nach Jerusalem’; in 2006 and 2009, he co-arranged ‘If we all give a little’ (Swiss entry) and ‘Just get out of my life’ (Montenegrin entry) respectively – needless to say, all three aforementioned songs were composed by Siegel as well.

Much more information about Norbert Daum can be found by clicking

Thursday, 5 June 2014


The biography of French guitarist, pianist, arranger, and conductor Benoît Kaufman has recently been published online @ 


Pianist and guitarist Benoît Kaufman studied harmony and counterpoint at the Conservatoire National in Paris. Meanwhile, he played the guitar in rock band Les Champions. It was not long before he wrote his first arrangement. In the 1970s, Kaufman worked as an arranger with several francophone artists: Michel Chevalier, Michel Polnareff, Johnny Hallyday, Gérard Lenorman, and Michel Sardou, to name just a few. He worked extensively with Sylvie Vartan and Johnny Hallyday for many years. Kaufman spent a spell of his professional career in Los Angeles. Since the mid-1980s, he has worked and lived in Switzerland, where he owned a recording studio in Gland, producing Swiss acts including Tafta and Berni de la Loye.

Eurovision involvement

Benoît Kaufman was the musical director of the 1989 Eurovision Song Contest, held in Lausanne (Switzerland). He handpicked fifty-five musicians for the orchestra. Moreover, he conducted the entries of the home team, Switzerland (‘Viver senza tei’, Furbaz), and that of Luxembourg (‘Monsieur’, Park Café). Kaufman also conducted half of the Danish entry, because Denmark’s conductor Henrik Krogsgaard spectacularly left his place in front of the orchestra half way through the performance of Birthe Kjaer’s ‘Vi maler byen rød’ to join the background singing group behind the soloist. Thus, Kaufman conducted 2½ Eurovision entries. In 1993, Kaufman arranged the music to the Swiss entry ‘Moi, tout simplement’ (written by Jean-Jacques Egli and Christophe Duc, sung by Annie Cotton), but it was the song’s producer Marc Sorrentino who conducted the orchestra. 

Find out much more about Benoît Kaufman and his Eurovision involvement by clicking


Friday, 30 May 2014


On Ascension Day, 2014 (29th of May), Croatian musician Miljenko Prohaska passed away, aged 89. He conducted four Yugoslavian Eurovision entries between 1963 and 1971, making a comeback after more than two decades in 1994 to conduct the festival orchestra for Croatia's entry.

More about Miljenko Prohaska and all other Conductors of Eurovision @

A hyperlink to Mr. Prohaska career overview: 

Miljenko Prohaska studied the double-bass at secondary music school, graduating in 1951; after that, he got himself a licence in music teaching at the Zagreb Conservatory (1956). From the 1950s until his retirement as an active musician in 1989, Prohaska played contrabass in many different orchestras and bands, including, most notably, the Radio Zagreb Symphony Orchestra and the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. In the 1960s, he started working as a composer and arranger in the jazz and light entertainment industry. Prohaska penned arrangements for well-known Yugoslavian pop stars and composed the music to fifteen movies, as well as to many TV and theatre shows. Between 1967 and 1969, he was the musical director of the then highly popular Zagrebfest, a light entertainment song contest. He won several prizes for his work, including the 1968 Golden Arena for best film music and two different awards for his oeuvre as a whole (in 1988 and 1995). During two spells (1967-’68; 1988-’90), Prohaska served as the president of the Croatian Composers’ Society (HDS).

Miljenko Prohaska was involved as a conductor in the Eurovision Song Contest on five occasions. He made his debut on the Eurovision stage in 1963, when he led the orchestra in London for Vice Vukov, the Yugoslav representative; Prohaska made further appearances with other Croats who represented Yugoslavia: Dubrovački Trubaduri (1968 - 'Jedan dan'), Ivan (1969 - 'Pozdrav svijetu'), and Krunoslav Slabinac (1971 - 'Tvoj djecak je tuzan'). ‘Jedan dan’, the 1968 entry, went on to become a hit record in several Western European countries. In 1994, after an absence of no fewer than twenty-three years, Prohaska returned to the Eurovision Song Contest, conducting the second-ever Croatian entry, ‘Nek’ti bude ljubav sva’, performed by Toni Cetinski.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

In memoriam ANDRÉ POPP (

On May 10th, 2014, at home in his apartment in Puteaux (Greater Paris), composer and arranger André Popp passed away, aged 90. André Popp composed four songs for the Eurovision Song Contest, amongst which one winning entry and one entry for which he conducted the orchestra himself.

An extensive biography of André Popp, based on an interview by And The Conductor Is in January 2013, can be found by following this link:


André Popp was born in the Vendée region, Western France, where he grew up in his grandparents' villa. His mother sent him to a piano teacher when he was five years old. Later onwards, at secondary school, André played the church organ after the cleric originally entrusted with this task had been enlisted into the French army upon Germany's declaration of war in 1940. During the war years, André met songwriter Jean Broussolle, with whom he travelled to Paris after the liberation of France.

With Broussolle, Popp tried breaking into the Parisian music industry by signing many songs, most notably 'Grand papa laboureur', which was recorded by Cathérine Sauvage. In the late 1940s, Popp also worked as a piano accompanist for theatres and record companies. Later on, after a particularly well-received Christmas broadcast for which he had written the music, Popp was signed by French radio as a producer and conductor (1953). Having formed his own orchestra, he entertained nationwide audiences with his instrumental compositions and arrangements in different styles in 'La bride sur le cou', a weekly radio programme which ran for five consecutive years.

Meanwhile, Popp continued composing songs, amongst which big (international) hit successes such as 'Les lavandières du Portugal' (Portuguese washerwomen), originally recorded by Jacqueline François (1954), Eurovision winner 'Tom Pillibi' for Jacqueline Boyer (1960), and 'Manchester et Liverpool' for Marie Lafôret (1967). As an arranger, he worked with many different artists, most notably Jacques Brel, for whom he wrote the original score to 'Quand on n'a que l'amour'. 

Testimony to Popp's creativity is the creation of an educative symphonic work for children, 'Piccolo, Saxo et Cie.', for which he teamed up with his old friend Jean Broussolle. He also released several instrumental albums, including the innovative 'Delirium in Hi-Fi' (under the pseudonym Elsa Popping) and two LPs with ukelele virtuoso Herb Ohta. 

In the Eurovision Song Contest, after his victory with 'Tom Pillibi' (France 1960, lyrics by Pierre Cour), Popp composed three more Grand Prix entries: 'Le chant de Mallory' (Rachel, France 1964), 'L'amour est bleu' (Vicky Leandros, Luxembourg 1967), and 'Une chanson c'est une lettre' (Sophie Hecquet, Monaco 1975). For the last-mentioned song, Popp conducted the Eurovision orchestra himself. Though 'L'amour est bleu' did not win the Eurovision Song Contest, finishing fourth, it became Popp's biggest world-wide hit in an instrumental cover version by the orchestra of Paul Mauriat. In the United States, it was the second-best selling single release of 1968, beaten only by 'Hey Jude' (Beatles).

Much more about André Popp's life and his Eurovision memories can be found at

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


The biography of Italian arranger and film composer Giancarlo Chiaramello has recently been published online @ 


Giancarlo Chiaramello was born in Bra (Piedmont), Italy, in 1939. He studied the piano, organ, choral singing, and composition at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory, Turin. His ambition to become a classical composer was cemented after winning two important competitions, the Ferdinando Ballo Award in Milan (1960) and the Rainier III Award in Monaco (1962), with his compositions.

His career took a different turn, though. After working as a theatre composer in the early 1960s, he was contracted by record company Fonit Cetra in 1964, becoming one of Italy's most successful arrangers of hit material, including, most notably 'I tuoi occhi verdi' by Franco Tozzi and 'Bandiera gialla' by Gianni Pettenati. For the Sanremo Music Festival, he arranged and conducted the winning entries by Claudio Villa ('Non pensare a me': 1967) and Sergio Endrigo ('Canzone per te': 1968). He also worked with the likes of Milva and Orietta Berti.

In 1970, Chiaramello moved from Turin to Rome, where he was Fonit's managing director for twenty-three years. Practically ceasing his work in the pop music business, he became heavily involved in composing film soundtracks, whilst he teamed up regularly directors Luca Ronconi and Giorgio Strehler to provide them with suitable musical accompaniment to their theatre productions. Chiaramello's music to the TV drama ‘Orlando furioso’ was awarded with the Nastro d'Argento Award in 1975.

In 1979, he started working as an arranger for Luciano Pavarotti, writing orchestrations to popular aria’s and Neapolitan songs. He penned most of the arrangements for the famous Three Tenors concert in the Caracalla Bathhouse, Rome (1990). From 1993 until the legendary tenor's death in 2007, Chiaramello arranged the lion's share of the music for the Pavarotti and Friends concerts.

Eurovision Song Contest

Giancarlo Chiaramello was involved in the Eurovision Song Contest on two occasions. In 1967, Sanremo winner Claudio Villa represented Italy in the festival; it was not until a couple of weeks before the competition that he was told that he could not sing his Sanremo entry ‘Non pensare a me’ according to new Eurovision rules. The substitute entry was a grandiose ballad ‘Non andare più lontano’. One year later, in 1968, Sergio Endrigo represented Italy in the festival held in London. His song ‘Marianne’ was arranged and conducted by Chiaramello as well. Neither of these entries did particularly well in the voting. 

Find out much more about Giancarlo Chiaramello @ by clicking

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

In memoriam STJEPAN MIHALJINEC (1935-2014) (

On February 13th, 2014, Stjepan Mihaljinec passed away, aged 78. He conducted the Yugoslavian entry to the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest held in Mihaljinec's native Zagreb. The song, 'Hajde da ludujemo' performed by Tajči, finished seventh amongst twenty-two competitors.

Pianist, composer, and arranger Stjepan Mihaljinec graduated from the Zagreb Music Academy in 1963. For years, he worked for RTV Zagreb, writing music for television and radio programmes. He composed over 200 songs, interpreted by artists such as Ivo Robić, Vice Vukov, Mišo Kovač, and Đani Maršan. As an arranger, he also worked with Krunoslav Slabinac. He conducted in many editions of the Split Festival and performed with international stars such as Domenico Modugno, Sergio Endrigo, and Johnny Logan.

Stjepan Mihaljinec conducted many songs in the Yugoslavian and Croatian Eurovision preselections, the last time being in 2001. As a conductor, he represented Yugoslavia in the international festival once, in 1990, with ‘Hajde da ludujemo’. The entry was composed by Zrinko Tutić, arranged by Nikša Bratoš, and performed by the group Tajči. Mihaljinec rewrote the studio arrangement into an orchestration suitable for a live performance. In the festival in Zagreb, 'Hajde da ludujemo' finished seventh.

More information about Stjepan Mihaljinec and all other conductors of the Eurovision Song Contest can be found on, home of All Conductors of Eurovision.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


The biography of Danish trumpet player, arranger, and kapellmeister Helmer Olesen has recently been published online @ 


Helmer Olesen (1934-1997) started his career in music as a vibraphonist and trumpeter, playing in different dance bands and going on a world tour with Bob Azzam’s orchestra, which scored a huge European hit in 1960 with 'Ya, Mustapha'. In the 1960s, he returned to Denmark and became a much sought-after studio musician and arranger. Olesen arranged almost all of the hit successes by Johnny Reimar and Birthe Kjaer in the 1970s, whilst he also teamed up with Otto Brandenburg, Peter Belli, and American gospel legend Clara Ward. Until his untimely death, Olesen led his own big band which played in Copenhagen's Tivoli Park each summer season.

Helmer Olesen arranged and conducted the 1978 Danish entry, ‘Boom boom’ by boy band Mabel, which finished 16th in the Eurovision Song Contest in Paris. It was the first Danish participation since 1966.

Find out much more about Helmer Olesen's career and Eurovision involvement by clicking

Monday, 20 January 2014


The biography of Rui dos Reis has just been published on

Born in Lisbon, Portugal (1954), Rui dos Reis started playing the piano in his early childhood. In the 1970s, he became involved as a organ player and pianist in various pop bands, most notably Petrus Castrus and Quarteto 1111, with the latter of which he toured in the USA and Canada (1976). Meanwhile, he studied biology at university for some years, before giving it up and going for a career in the music business once and for all. Between 1976 and 1979, he studied classical piano and harpsichord at Lisbon's Conservatoire.

In 1979, Reis decided to explore new ways and moved to Switzerland. At the Geneva Conservatory, he studied the piano, harpsichord, composition, harmony, orchestration, and counterpoint. For six years (1988-’94), he worked with Swiss flautist Ilan Horowitz, both in the recording studio and on stage. Another extensive working relationship developed with two internationally renowned sopranos: Natalie Choquette from Canada and Japanese Tomoko Masur; with the latter, he recorded four Christmas albums. 

As a composer, Dos Reis composed many piano and jazz band pieces, as well as the cantata ‘Meditatio XXI’ (dedicated to the victims of World War II). He also worked on light music, writing a new, bilingual musical version of ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Since 1989, he has been the organist-in-residence at Montreux. Usually, he spends several months of the year away with family in America and Taiwan.

Rui Reis, who was the pianist in the orchestra of maestro Benoît Kaufman which provided the music in the 1989 Eurovision Song Contest in Lausanne, arranged and conducted the 1996 Swiss Eurovision entry ‘Mon coeur l’aime’, composed by Régis Mounir and performed by Kathy Leander. In Oslo, Switzerland finished sixteenth, with an equal number of points scored as Belgium.

Much more about Rui dos Reis via


En recherche de Pierre Chiffre: qui peut m'aider?

Déjà depuis des années, j'ai essayé à localiser Pierre Chiffre, pianiste et arrangeur français, apparament originant de la region aquitaine. Si vous le connaissez, savez de plus sur sa carrière ou comment le localiser, s'il vous plaît contactez-moi sur Je voudrais faire un interview avec lui pour ce website. Grand merci en avance! Bas Tukker.

Biographie Pierre Chiffre
Dans les années 70, il a travaillé comme compositeur / arrangeur / pianiste dans les studios d'enregistrement à Paris. Comme arrangeur, il a travaillé avec Pascal Bréhat, Johnny Hallyday ('Comme si je devais mourir demain'), Franck Didier et Claudia Alexandre. En or, il a écrit les arrangements musicaux pour quelques disques de Gérard Palaprat.

Pour le monde de spectacle, il a composé la musique pour la comédie musicale 'La nuit des temps' en collaboration avec Annie Nobel. Pour cette création, il a aussi écrits les arrangements et pris la direction d'un orchestre dans lequel il a joué lui-même le piano. Les autres musiciens dans cet ensemble étaient Christian Padovan (basse), Gérard Kawczynski (guitare) et Dédé Sitbon (batterie). En outre, Chiffre a aussi arrangé une autre comédie musicale, la version française de 'Hair'.

En 1974, Pierre Chiffre était l'arrangeur et chef d'orchestre pour Jacques Hustin, qui répresentait la Belgique au Concours Eurovision à Brighton et qui a obtenu une neuvième place. Apparament, Chiffre s'est retiré du monde de la musique dans les années 1980. Il serait devenu un specialiste informatique dans la région Bordeaux / Toulouse.

J'ai eu du contact avec Jacques Hustin (décedé il y a quelques années) et Gérard Palaprat, mais ni l'un ni l'autre était encôre en contact avec Mr. Chiffre.

In English
Pierre Chiffre worked as a studio arranger and conductor from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, recording music with artists such as Pascal Bréhat, Johnny Hallyday (‘Comme si je devais mourir demain’), Franck Didier, and Claudia Alexandre. Moreover, Chiffre arranged several records for Gérard Palaprat.
Chiffre was the arranger and conductor of the 1974 Belgian entry, ‘Fleur de liberté’ by singer-songwriter Jacques Hustin. This song finished ninth in the contest held in Brighton.

In case you know how to get in touch with Pierre Chiffre, please contact me via I would like to do an interview with him. Many thanks, Bas Tukker.