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

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