Saturday 6 April 1974


Born: October 5th, 1930, Urbino (Italy)
Died: February 9th, 2007, Urbino (Italy)
Nationality: Italian

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Gianfranco Monaldi (sometimes credited as Franco Monaldi) taught himself to play the piano and started working as an orchestra musician at the age of twenty. Later onwards, he made a career in composing and arranging, becoming the artistic director of the Milan-based record company CGD. As such, he worked with many of the best known Italian pop artists of the 1960s and 1970s, including Betty Curtis, Lucio Battisti, Caterina Caselli, Gino Paoli, and Mina. Most notable among his arrangements are perhaps ‘Tanta voglia di lei’ for the band Pooh, ‘Sparring Partner’ for Paolo Conte, and ‘Ti amo’ for Umberto Tozzi. 

Gianfranco Monaldi, however, is best-known for being the musical director of Gigliola Cinquetti for many consecutive years; he is responsible for the orchestrations to all her recordings in the 1960s and 1970s. Between 1964 and 1973, Monaldi was present as a conductor at every edition of the San Remo Festival. He also penned many film scores.


In 1964, Gigliola Cinquetti won the San Remo Festival with ‘Non ho l’età’, written by Nicola Salerno and Mario Panzeri, and arranged and conducted by Gianfranco Monaldi. Accompanied by Monaldi, Cinquetti travelled to Copenhagen, where she represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest with her winning Sanremo effort. At short notice, Monaldi had to change the arrangement of the song to fit it into the obligatory three minutes of a Eurovision entry. ‘Non ho l’età’ became the runaway winner of the 1964 contest and the first-ever Italian victory. 

Exactly ten years later, in 1974, Gigliola Cinquetti again represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest, this time with a song called ‘Sì’. At that time, Gianfranco Monaldi was still her arranger and he conducted his own magnificent orchestration to this song at the international final, staged in Brighton (UK). ‘Sì’ came second behind ABBA’s ‘Waterloo’.


Country – Italy
Song title – "Non ho l’età (Per amarti)"
Rendition – Gigliola Cinquetti
Lyrics – Mario Panzeri / Gene Colonello
Composition – Nicola Salerno "Nisa" / Gene Colonello
Studio arrangement – Gianfranco Monaldi
Live orchestration – Gianfranco Monaldi
Conductor – Gianfranco Monaldi
Score – 1st place (49 votes)

Country – Italy
Song title – "Sì"
Rendition – Gigliola Cinquetti
Lyrics – Corrado Conti / Daniel Pace / Mario Panzeri / Lorenzo Pilat
Composition – Corrado Conti / Daniel Pace / Mario Panzeri / Lorenzo Pilat
Studio arrangement – Gianfranco Monaldi
Live orchestration – Gianfranco Monaldi
Conductor – Gianfranco Monaldi
Score – 2nd place (18 votes)


Born: March 21st, 1932, Rossbach, Wald (Germany)
Died: January 4th, 2020, Switzerland
Nationality: German

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Josef ‘Pepe’ Ederer was part of the Schlager trio The Nilsen Brothers, who were catapulted to fame in 1959 after a successful participation in a Bavaria talent show and a subsequent record deal, which resulted in a monster hit with the German version of ‘Tom Dooley’. Ederer himself wrote most of the group’s repertoire, including their biggest success, ‘Aber dich gibt’s nur einmal für mich’, which, in a 2003 poll, was chosen of the best German popular song of all time. Ederer penned songs for several other artists as well, including Monica Morell from Switzerland. In the late 1970s, he was producer of Missa Disco. In 2005, a new Nilsen Brothers were formed, with Ederer as only remaining original member in it.


Pepe Ederer composed, arranged, and conducted the 1974 Swiss Eurovision entry ‘Mein Ruf nach Dir’, which was sung by Piera Martell. In the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton, this ballad scored three points and tied for last place with Portugal, West Germany, and Norway.


Country – Switzerland
Song title – "Mein Ruf nach Dir"
Rendition – Piera Martell
Lyrics – Pepe Ederer
Composition – Pepe Ederer
Studio arrangement – Pepe Ederer
Live orchestration – Pepe Ederer
Conductor – Pepe Ederer
Score – 14th place (3 votes)


Born: September 25th, 1925, Regensburg (Germany)
Died: July 5th, 2001, Lugano (Switzerland)
Nationality: German

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Werner Scharfenberger, who had joined the Max Greger Orchestra as a pianist in 1949, was one of Germany’s most successful composers of pop songs in the 1950s and 1960s, with a string of hits to his credit, which include ‘Seemann, deine Heimat ist das Meer’ for Lolita, ‘Heisser Sand’ for Mina, and ‘Sugar baby’ for Peter Kraus. Some other vocalists to record work by Scharfenberger are Peter Alexander, Conny Froeboess, Caterina Valente, and Esther Ofarim. Moreover, Scharfenberger worked as an arranger and conductor in the recording studio for many years. He also composed the music to some German folklore movies.


With lyricist Kurt Feltz, Werner Scharfenberger wrote a song for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974, a typical Schlager effort called ‘Die Sommermelodie’. It was performed by Cindy & Bert and was the West German entrant in the festival in Brighton. Scharfenberger himself conducted the orchestra. That year, West Germany came joint-last with only three points scored.


Country – West Germany
Song title – "Die Sommermelodie"
Rendition – Cindy & Bert
Lyrics – Kurt Feltz
Composition – Werner Scharfenberger
Studio arrangement – Werner Scharfenberger
(studio orchestra conducted by Werner Scharfenberger)
Live orchestration – Werner Scharfenberger
Conductor – Werner Scharfenberger
Score – 14th place (3 votes)


The following article is an overview of the career of French arranger Pierre Chiffre. The main source of information is an interview with Pierre Chiffre, conducted by Serge Elhaïk in 2016. The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Pierre Chiffre's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Pierre Chiffre
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: March 21st, 1948, Gabarret (France)
Nationality: French


Pierre Chiffre, who had a short career as an arranger and conductor in Paris’ recording studios in the first half of the 1970s, led the orchestra in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, conducting his own arrangement to ‘Fleur de liberté’, that year’s Belgian entry performed by Jacques Hustin.


Pierre Chiffre was born in a village about halfway between Bordeaux and Toulouse in Southern France. He grew up in a family in which both parents were avid amateur musicians. “In her young years, my mother had tried to become a professional singer, but in the end, she had learnt to play the piano instead. In fact, her sister was an opera singer for a while, but she had to stop due to familial reasons. As for my father, he was a tax collector, but he loved playing the piano as well. His mother was Russian and I think his Slavic genes gave him his musicality. From age five onwards, for some eight or nine years, I had the privilege of studying solfege and the piano with several private teachers. Now, my father, who besides his daytime job spent a lot of time and energy on organising summer festivals in villages across the region, had once met Édouard Duleu (an accordion player enjoying nationwide fame in France – BT) at one of those occasions; thanks to my father’s intervention, I was allowed to play the accordion on stage at Duleu’s side at several of those festivals. An accordion had been given to me as a present by my parents – and in fact after a while I could manage quite well playing it in a self-taught way. In spite of myself, I became the petite vedette of the village and the wider surroundings, also performing at local school parties now and again.”

“We moved to Aire-sur-l’Adour (some 50 km south of Pierre’s native Gabarret – BT) when I was ten years old – and some time later, in my adolescence, when I was about fourteen, I developed an ever-increasing passion for forming all kinds of little rock groups with my classmates. We founded a band with three or four elements… piano, guitar, bass, and drums, playing rock and what is referred to as pop nowadays. Around the same time, I began composing music for some songs here and there. Despite this, I never followed any conservatory course, which made me a true autodidact when I turned to working as an arranger and conductor later on.”

“In 1965, when my father retired, the family moved to Bordeaux. This was great for me, as it allowed me to get to know a whole bunch of young people who played in all kinds of different music groups who toured the region. Of my peers, I was the only pianist, for all the others had chosen guitar, bass, or drums. By that time, I had said goodbye to my accordion, in part due to my musical tastes which had changed, but also because I needed the money to buy myself a portable electric piano. It allowed me to join a band which I had met. Fortunately, my parents also sponsored me a little to buy that piano, but only on the condition that I would continue my studies at the lycée in Bordeaux. They were keen for me to embrace a liberal profession, never really taking my passion for music entirely seriously. With our band, we didn’t have that many professional engagements, playing occasionally in nightclubs and in joint performances with ballroom orchestras.”

“One day, a musician approached me to ask if I was interested in joining Eddy Harrison’s ballroom orchestra for dancing galas. I accepted, even though I was just seventeen, with all the other orchestra members being three to eight years my senior. At this point, my parents decided to keep a more watchful eye on me, since Harrison’s orchestra sometimes performed in venues further away from Bordeaux. This all went rather well until, one day, a better-known bandleader, Jean Bernard, who was an accordionist and trombone player, gave our orchestra an offer we couldn’t refuse. He was particularly interested in our rhythm group. Bernard’s ensemble had a small brass section – and he performed at all kinds of occasions, bals musette and other large festivals. As Bernard took over our entire orchestra, we effectively merged two bands into one. This made us one of the two or three most sought-after orchestras in the Bordelais, the region around Bordeaux.”

Gabarret, Pierre Chiffre’s birthplace in the Département des Landes, Southern France

“Already in the days with Eddy Harrison, I was the orchestra’s arranger, quite simply because I was the only one in the band who knew anything about solfege. I wrote for a limited number of musicians; a rhythm group and one saxophone, sometimes with one additional trumpet. When Jean Bernard became our bandleader, he asked me to write dozens and dozens of arrangements for his orchestra of up to twelve elements with three vocalists able to handle different styles – including one black guy who sang rhythm-and-blues. Every week, I penned four or five arrangements of songs which were in the charts at that time. Because I really wanted to get into things seriously, I had taken out a loan to buy myself a Hammond organ.”

“Finding myself unable to combine school with my activities as a musician, I quit the lycée mere months before the final exams. To appease my parents, I enrolled at Bordeaux’s high school to obtain a law degree. This was a two-year course which didn’t require any prior diploma. Moreover, the lessons only took up two hours a day – and not even every day. In between courses, I sometimes attended jazz concerts which took place at Bordeaux’s local radio station. There I met a drummer who became a friend; we decided to sit together each morning for one hour to study solfege. This guy knew his way around in the world of jazz, and with him and one other, I formed a jazz trio with Hammond organ, drums, and guitar. Part of our repertoire were contemporary hits which we interpreted the way we liked them. We didn’t perform that much; just some touring in the summer now and then. We also worked in nightclubs in and around Bordeaux, while I continued touring with the ballroom orchestra during weekends.”

“Meanwhile, I also continued trying to write the occasional song. Some people I got to know wondered if I wanted to put their lyrics to music. When I had passed the exam required to join Sacem (France’s music copyright organisation – BT), there was the requirement of submitting the names of two musicians who supported your membership request. Well, those two were – first my father’s old friend, Édouard Duleu, the accordionist, and then one of Duleu’s friends… none other than Raymond Lefèvre!”

“Another friend of mine from Bordeaux, Bernard Saint-Paul, worked as an artists’ impresario at the time, contracting English bands to perform in nightclubs across the Bordelais. One day, he told me he’d love to record some of the songs I’d composed with one of those overseas groups. I had just finished the music to one of Bernard’s lyrics. Shortly after those sessions, Bernard left for Paris to become Adamo’s artistic director. Later on, he also started working with Gilbert Montagné and Véronique Sanson. It wasn’t very long after he had left when he called me. It was in the fall of 1968. “Pierre, Adamo is coming down to Bordeaux for a gig. He has a support act performing the part of the show before the break, a young artist who has just made his debut. It would be interesting if you get in touch with him, because we have to form an orchestra to accompany him.” It turned out that youngster was Julien Clerc! Bernard Saint-Paul had told him I wrote arrangements for a local orchestra and that I was good at my job.”

“That night, Julien told me, “Listen to my performance in the first part of the show and we’ll discuss it afterwards.” His performance struck me like a lightning bolt. My lord, what a great performance! His set consisted of merely three songs, all coming from his first two singles, ‘La cavalerie’, ‘Jivaro song’, and ‘Ivanovitch’. Later that night, in a conversation, Julien explained to me what kind of accompaniment he was looking for, “but,” he added, “at the moment I don’t have the means to hire a group of musicians. I’m looking for a conductor, someone who joins me to look after the musical accompaniment, working with local musicians wherever we come to do a show.” He finished by saying, “My next record is due to be released next February on Europe N° 1 (a popular radio station – BT). Let’s meet on that and that day at the entrance of the radio station, at half past eleven.” Now, imagine, this appointment was three months away! I was astonished that anyone was organised enough to plan a meeting like this.”

Jacqueline Taïeb’s single ‘Bonjour Brésil’ (1969), one of Pierre Chiffre’s first feats as a studio arranger

“Anyhow, I had to part ways with my ballroom orchestra and also with my family. I had to settle in Paris! I was still in touch with Bernard Saint-Paul who told me in December 1968, “Come over here and then we’ll see if we can sell your compositions.” He had booked a room for me in a small hotel at the Rue Saint-André-des-Arts and introduced me to some Parisian music publishers – and in fact they bought one or two songs from me. Suddenly, I was immersing myself in Paris and everything it stood for… it was an overwhelming experience.”

“Finally, in February 1969, I went to Rue François Ier where Europe N° 1 studios were. On the pavement, there’s this big bloke, wearing the fur coat he was famous for back in those days. He shakes hands with me, we enter the building, finding our way up into the studio. After the presentation of his new record, ‘La Californie’, we had a little chat and he said, “I’ve got some good news; next month we will be the support act for Gilbert Bécaud’s concerts in the Olympia Hall.” Incredibly, my first job in Paris was to coordinate Julien Clerc’s performance with the Olympia’s regular orchestra. We rehearsed the performance in the Ancienne Belgique, a concert hall in Brussels, where I led a band of four musicians while seated at a superb Hammond organ. In the Olympia, and subsequently on tour, I had the opportunity to witness Gilbert Bécaud at work, a great personality who played all kinds of tricks on me. At the time, my hair was rather long and I was wearing Ray Charles-type spectacles. Bécaud liked nothing better than wearing a wig and then nicking the spectacles from my dressing room. His bandleader Raymond Bernard, the regular conductor of the Olympia orchestra, told me, “Well, nobody knows the tempo of Julien’s songs better than you do, so obviously you’ll conduct the orchestra for his part of the show.” Of course, someone like him showing such confidence in me was fantastic.”

“Being Julien Clerc’s bandleader was a big plus for my own career, given how steep his path to the top of the entertainment ladder was. The guy was popular overnight. In the weeks following our performance at l’Olympia, Julien told me, “Now is the right time to form an orchestra of our own.” So that’s what I did, hitting the road to perform at all kinds of different galas with the musicians I had recruited. At the young age of 21, I had managed to get a foot in the door in the world of showbiz.”

“Around the time of that tour with Julien Clerc in 1969, Bernard Saint-Paul gave me the opportunity to work as a session player and also as an arranger. In the recording studio, I met a singer who called himself Marcellin, for whom I wrote the two arrangements to his first single release. It was the first time my name appeared on a record sleeve. I never asked myself if I had the ability to be a record arranger. I simply said, “Yes, I’ll do it.” Claude Benaya (a bass player – BT), who knew the studio business inside out, helped me out by bringing together a group of musicians for this session with Marcellin. Following that, again thanks to Bernard Saint-Paul, I recorded another single, this time with Jacqueline Taïeb. Of course I had never studied to be an arranger; therefore, for Marcellin’s songs, I simply used the formula of the orchestra I was used to write for in the Bordelais – those were the instruments I knew. I didn’t want to take too many risks working in the studio for the first time with musicians I didn’t know. At the same time, though, I decided to buy myself a book which detailed the range of every orchestral instrument. For the session with Jacqueline Taïeb I added one or two instruments to the set-up just to hear how that would sound. I was quick to realise what could be done with the means at one’s disposal in the professional recording studios.”

In those early days of Chiffre’s career as a studio arranger, he was fortunate to have rising star Julien Clerc as one of his guardian angels. In 1970, when Clerc recorded his second album ‘Des jours entiers à t’aimer’, Chiffre – essentially still a ‘nobody’ in Paris’ session world – had the opportunity to take care of one title, ‘Bourg-la-Reine’. “Without a shadow of a doubt, this was a favour Julien accorded me,” Chiffre comments, “and I remember how weird I felt standing in that studio at the side of Jean-Claude Petit, who wrote the majority of arrangements for that record.”

Julien Clerc taking centre-stage in the cast of the French staging of ‘Hair’ at Paris’ Théâtre Porte-Saint-Martin

During Clerc’s concert series in Olympia, the singer received an offer to play the lead role in the French staging of Hair, which would go on to be performed for two-and-a-half years at Théâtre Porte-Saint-Martin, Paris. The rock musical’s producer, Annie Fargue, and director Bertrand Castelli wanted Clerc’s conductor to sign on as well. “Of course I said yes,” Chiffre recalls. “They just said, “You’re Julien’s band leader, so we want you to be the band leader in Hair as well.” Apart from the rhythm group which accompanied Julien for his concerts, Claude Benaya found the other musicians for me, most notably the brass players and a percussionist. When the performances of Hair started, Julien was still having his tour as well – on the nights when he was performing in a solo concert, there was a replacement taking his part in Hair. I joined Julien, which meant Claude Benaya had to take over the band leadership in the theatre on those nights. At some point, Julien decided to abandon Hair, giving precedence to his solo career. The show continued, with Gérard Lenorman taking Julien’s part. Inevitably, Bertrand Castelli wanted me to choose; either continue to conduct Hair, or follow Julien. To tell you the truth, my daughter had just been born, it was in the spring of 1970 and I was beginning to be booked to write arrangements for several artists – I wasn’t particularly looking forward to going on the road any longer. That’s when I told Julien that I had decided not to come with him… to our mutual regret.”

When Hair stopped in 1972, Chiffre worked for one more year on another musical production, Godspell, which was staged in the same Parisian theatre. “The cast consisted of a group of young artists who were virtually or completely unknown at the time, like Dave, Armande Altaï, Daniel Auteuil, Michel Elias, and Grégory Ken. The orchestra I led was much smaller than in Hair – just four musicians. I played the piano and the organ, while the other band members were my good friends Christian Padovan, Gérard Kawczynski, and André Sitbon. With guys like this on board, we couldn’t be anything but successful! When Godspell stopped at the Porte-Saint-Martin, the show went on a tour across the country. Because I wanted to stay in Paris, Michel Bernholc replaced me. For his studio arrangements, Michel often used the same group of session players as I did.”

In that same period, Pierre Chiffre also composed a fully-fledged musical, ‘La nuit des temps’, but regrettably it never reached the stage. Meanwhile, Chiffre was ever more in demand as an arranger for pop artists. Notably, he added the scores to Gérard Palaprat’s first two albums, ‘Fais-moi un signe’ (1971) and ‘Vive la terre’ (1973). Chiffre first worked with Palaprat in ‘Hair’, where the singer performed one of the side roles.

“One night, while we were performing with Hair, I was approached by a guy named Patrick Lemaître. “You are an arranger, aren’t you?” he asked me, “and don’t you conduct Julien Clerc’s stage performances as well? Well, listen, with Maurice Vallet, I’m planning to write some songs for a record with Gérard Palaprat. We would like you to take care of the arrangements. I’ve got quite some ideas for the arrangements of my own songs as well.” That was in 1970 for ‘Les orgues de Berlin’, the single which kick-started Gérard’s solo career. I had some ideas myself as well, and following Claude Benaya’s suggestions I wrote a harp part for the intro of ‘Tristan des terres neuves’, the B-side of that same single. In the end, the recording was a real team effort with Patrick Lemaître and the session players. That’s one of the reasons why I thought of myself more as a conductor than an arranger. Another factor was that, when it came to writing technique, I never attained the level of certainty of my colleagues in the business… in fact, some of them were better than me by a country mile. When I was writing arrangements, my main ally wasn’t my knowledge of music, but my nerve, I would say. I just did it!”

“With Palaprat, we had one hit after the other. I remember ‘Fais-moi un signe’, also produced by Patrick Lemaître, a song for which the arrangement was a bit eccentric – rather Anglo-Saxon. ‘Pour la fin du monde’ was another notable success. Palaprat’s song ‘Dostoïevski’ was recorded live with Russian musicians who worked in the ‘Etoile de Moscou’ (a Russian restaurant in Paris – BT) – we had to do this live, because it was a song in which the melody followed the voice rather than the other way around. It took me considerable preparation time to get the hang of the balalaika. Obviously, I’d never written a balalaika arrangement in my life.”

Gérard Palaprat’s second album ‘Vive la terre’ (1973) was arranged entirely by Pierre Chiffre

Like his fellow arranger Michel Bernholc, Pierre Chiffre usually refrained from working with the most sought after group of session players in Paris, who more or less worked as a group – the so-called ‘requins’. Instead, he formed a group of his own with younger musicians. Chiffre, commenting, “Indeed, it was really important for me to form a rhythm group consisting of guys who got along well with each other and who produced a sound which was different from what the run-of-the-mill pop record sounded like in those days. There always was this band of four or five core musicians with me in the studio. For string and brass players, this was not the case – Jean-Claude Dubois usually assembled those players on my behalf.”

In the early 1970s, apart from his involvement with Gérard Palaprat, Chiffre also worked on arrangements for Alain Bashung, Claudia Alexandre, and France Gall’s brother Patrice. In 1972, he had the opportunity to write an arrangement for Johnny Hallyday, scoring his single release ‘Comme si je devais mourir demain’. “I owed that commission to Patrick Lemaître and Jean-Pierre Lang. For the recording, I didn’t work with my own set of musicians, but with Johnny’s rhythm players. All of this took place in London, which was a great experience; aged just 24, I found myself working in the same studio the Rolling Stones used for their recordings! That session for Hallyday was really out of this world, as I was lucky enough to have at my disposal a group of twenty local string players who really swinged. A swinging string arrangement wasn’t something which one could expect to accomplish easily with French musicians back then.”

“One of the main producers of Barclay Records, Philippe Monet, took a malevolent delight in introducing me to others as the frontrunner of a whole new generation of arrangers. Certain producers who understood what I was doing, specifically asked for the ‘Equipe à Chiffre’ for their sessions. I employed the recording techniques I knew so well from my experience of working with rhythm groups in smaller studios – studios which were mostly in demand for demos, not for full-fledged recordings. I was looking to create a sound which was flatter, more Anglo-Saxon; the type of sound I had discovered when recording the orchestra for Johnny Hallyday in the Olympic Studios (in London – BT).”

Astonishingly, given his success as a studio arranger, Pierre Chiffre left Paris and his career there behind in 1975, withdrawing to the southwestern part of France where he had grown up. “Don’t forget my Parisian career had developed more or less by accident,” Chiffre explains. “I never put pressure to make it there; it just happened. Looking back I consider it a wonderful human adventure. I experienced that period in an incredible way – so incredible, in fact, that I couldn’t imagine continuing my work in the music industry if conditions were to change radically from those I was used to. When I noticed this would be impossible, I took the decision to stop. This was a matter of character, because I sensed the metier was about to change profoundly, but also for private reasons. Moreover Paris simply wasn’t my cup of tea.”

TH Marcus’ only single release, ‘La milice’ from 1977

“I retraced my steps, moving back to Bordeaux. There I joined TH Marcus, a local pop-rock band. At the time my desire was to get back onto the stage. We even recorded a single which was released at RCA in 1977, containing one title written by Gérard Palaprat, and the other by myself. Admittedly that record wasn’t really representative of the kind of music we usually played. Our band stayed together for two or three years before we each went our separate ways. Professionally, I went into business. My ambition was to combine sound and image. Those were the days of slide-films; with a friend in Bordeaux who was a professional photographer I produced several of such audio-visual productions.”

Occasionally, in the second half of the 1970s and early 1980s, Chiffre returned to Paris for studio projects with pop artists, including Philippe Richeux, Nathalie Corène, and Pascal Brehat. “That album with Brehat was a commission which came my way thanks to Jacques Poisson, a producer who I had stayed in touch with after leaving Paris. From time to time, Jacques and I met up somewhere in the vicinity of Bordeaux where he owned a seaside house. Together we loved conceiving all kinds of grand projects for the future. In 1986, four years after the album for Brehat, I wrote arrangements for a studio recording for the last time. This was for Désir – and I admit I felt disillusioned having to work in a studio not chosen by myself and with musicians which hadn’t been handpicked by me.”

“The owner of that studio was a singer, Jacky Reggan. By that time, he was earning a life organising concerts in large festival domes. Thanks to Jacky I met an engineer who had opened a shop in Paris focusing exclusively on music software and music interfaces. At the time, this was the only shop in Europe of its sort. The arrival of micro informatics enabled me to take the leap from music software applications to graphic applications, a much wider playing field. I worked in communication technology, making a career in it which lasted for years. At the moment (speaking in 2016 – BT), I’m living in the South of France where I withdrew after retiring from my profession. As for music, nowadays I only play when I feel like it. I undertook writing music for large church organs, but I haven’t had the opportunity yet to have those compositions performed. That’s something I like toying with in my mind…”

Pierre Chiffre in later years, after his withdrawal from the recording business


Pierre Chiffre was involved in the Eurovision Song Contest as a conductor once, in 1974, at the tender age of 26, not representing his own country, France, but its northern neighbour Belgium. That year, Belgium was represented by one of Wallonia’s most popular solo artists, Jacques Hustin. Working with various co-authors, Hustin submitted six songs for a televised pre-selection, aired on January 14th, 1974, and hosted by legendary RTB speakerine Paule Herreman. For the arrangements, Hustin – or his record company – took the decision to turn to France; more specifically to Paris. The task of subdividing the six arrangements befell on artistic director Jacques Poisson, a good friend of Pierre Chiffre.

“One day, Jacques Poisson told me, “Jacques Hustin is a very popular singer in Belgium. He will be representing his country at the coming edition of Eurovision, but we don’t know yet which song he will be performing there. First we’re going to record six titles; I want you to write the arrangements to three of them – the three others will be taken care of by Christian Chevallier.” The sessions took place at the Studio d’Hérouville (a legendary recording studio situated in a chateau on the outskirts of Paris owned by film composer Michel Magne – BT) and when we were done, the recording tapes were sent to Belgium for the final choice. While working in those sessions with Chevallier, I was much impressed by his skilful handling of the string and choral parts. He was an ace at writing them. Afterwards, Jacques Poisson said, “And Christian Chevallier was impressed by your efficient way of working!”

“Some weeks later, I received a message from Jacques Poisson to the effect that of the six original titles, three had been eliminated – but the three songs left were all arranged by me! (‘Etranger, baladin, voyageur’, ‘Fleur de liberté’, and ‘On dit de toi, on dit de moi’ – BT) “So you’re sure of your ticket to Eurovision,” he said. In the end, ‘Fleur de liberté’ was chosen for the contest. The arrangement I had written for the record version had to be revised and modified for the orchestra of the BBC put in place for the show consisting of eighty elements.” (it is beyond my knowledge exactly how many musicians were in Ronnie Hazlehurst’s orchestra for the contest in 1974, but eighty seems a bit too generous – BT)

When asked about his memories of the international Eurovision final, held in Brighton, Chiffre comments, “One had to be there several days in advance of the actual broadcast. On the day of my departure for England, while packing my suitcase, I heard on the radio that Georges Pompidou had passed away (Pompidou being the president of France, who died on April 2nd, 1974 – BT). France, which had picked the singer Dani as its representative, withdrew as the contest was due to take place on April 6th, the day chosen for the president’s funeral. Upon my arrival in Brighton, I was asked to produce my passport at the hotel reception. The girl at the desk quickly noticed that it was a French pass. She told me there had to be some sort of misunderstanding, given that the French delegation for the Eurovision Song Contest had annulled all their bookings! I explained her that, even though I was French, I was part of Belgium’s delegation.”

“As for Jacques Hustin, he finished ninth, and I remember well how ABBA, the group from Sweden, came first with their song ‘Waterloo’. For them, it was the starting point of a marvellous career. In spite of everything, in spite of that ninth place, one Belgian newspaper put our performance on their front page the following Monday. The journalist commented to the effect that it was a good result, given how badly Belgian singers had done in previous years. They had regularly finished near the bottom of the scoreboard. As for my own contribution, taking part in Eurovision is a happy memory. Whichever way you look at it, the contest was some sort of an apogee in my career.”

Belgium’s Eurovision representative Jacques Hustin in Brighton’s Pavilion Gardens (1974)


So far, we have not gathered comments from other artists about Pierre Chiffre.


Country – Belgium
Song title – "Fleur de liberté"
Rendition – Jacques Hustin
Lyrics – Franck F. Gérald
Composition – Jacques Hustin
Studio arrangement – Pierre Chiffre
Live orchestration – Pierre Chiffre
Conductor – Pierre Chiffre
Score – 9th place (10 votes)

  • Thanks due to Serge Elhaïk, who allowed me to use the interview he did with Pierre Chiffre in 2016, the original of which can be found on pg. 459-70 in his monumental book about French arrangers: ‘Les arrangeurs de la chanson française’, Ed. Textuel: Paris, 2018
  • A YouTube playlist of Pierre Chiffre’s music can be accessed by clicking this link
  • Thanks to Joe Newman-Getzler and Edwin van Gorp for proofreading the manuscript


Born: May 20th, 1940, Leytonstone, London (United Kingdom)
Nationality: British

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview

Charles Blackwell taught himself to play the piano and to write arrangements. He started working as an arranger with Decca at the age of twenty and became one of the most prolific studio arrangers and record producers of the 1960s and 1970s, with a string of hit records to his credit, including ‘Johnny Remember Me’ by Johnny Leyton, ‘What’s New Pussycat’ and ‘Green, Green Grass Of Home’ by Tom Jones, and ‘Release Me’ and ‘A Man Without Love’ by Engelbert Humperdinck. He composed songs for Humperdinck as well as Sandie Shaw. In 1967, he accompanied singer Bobbie Goldsboro to Italy, taking part as his conductor in that year's San Remo Festival with 'Una ragazza', for which he had written the arrangements.

Blackwell also regularly arranged and conducted studio recordings for francophone artists, including Art Sullivan, Michel Polnareff (‘Love Me Please Love Me’), and Françoise Hardy (including her 1966 San Remo entry 'Parlami di te', conducted on the night by Ezio Leoni. He wrote several film scores. In 2005, he was the arranger and musical director of the African stage show Sun Dance and more recently, he was commissioned by the European Parliament to orchestrate and conduct the European Anthem (‘Ode To Joy’ by Beethoven) with a 70 man orchestra for a new recording that is played at every parliamentary sitting.


In 1974, Blackwell was asked to arrange and conduct that year’s Luxembourg entry, ‘Bye Bye, I Love You’, performed by English vocalist Ireen Sheer; it was the first of many Eurovision entries by Ralph Siegel and it finished fourth. It was to remain the only participation of Blackwell to the Eurovision Song Contest, although he wrote the arrangement to the demo of the 1979 Belgian entry, ‘Hey Nana’. When singer Micha Marah refused to record her last-place-entry, composer Charles Dumolin released his own version with Blackwell’s backing track as a 7” single.


Country – Luxembourg
Song title – "Bye Bye, I Love You"
Rendition – Ireen Sheer
Lyrics – Humbert Ibach / Michael Kunze
Composition – Ralph Siegel
Studio arrangement – Charles Blackwell
Live orchestration – Charles Blackwell
Conductor – Charles Blackwell
Score – 4th place (14 votes)

Country – Belgium
Song title – "Hey nana"
Rendition – Micha Marah
Lyrics – Guy Beyers
Composition – Charles Dumolin
Studio arrangement (Charles Dumolin version)Charles Blackwell
Live orchestration – Willy Heynen / Francis Bay
Conductor – Francis Bay
Score – 18th place (5 votes)


Born: May 2nd, 1929, Lerbäck (Sweden)
Died: June 7th, 2011, Gothenburg (Sweden)
Nationality: Swedish

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


Sven-Olof Walldoff worked as a studio arranger and conductor in the 1960s and 1970s, accompanying such artists as Lars Berghagen, Lill-Babs, Lena Andersson, and Östen Warnerbring. He also wrote the orchestrations for instrumental albums recorded by trumpet virtuoso Arne Lamberth after the latter’s return to Sweden in the 1970s. Walldoff was called upon regularly by ABBA to write string arrangements to their songs, including the hit singles ‘Honey, Honey’, ‘Mamma Mia’, and ‘Dancing Queen’. Moreover, Walldoff also composed film scores. In 1980, he worked with the Lerums Storband ensemble to release the album ‘String & Sweet’.


Sven-Olof Walldoff is part of the ABBA legend; when the group won the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton with the song ‘Waterloo’ (1974), Walldoff conducted the orchestra dressed up as Napoleon, an idea of the band’s manager Stig Anderson. This was Walldoff’s only participation as a conductor in the contest, but he also wrote the orchestration to the 1962 Swedish entry ‘Sol och vår’, conducted in Eurovision by Egon Kjerrman, as well as arranging the record version of 'Vita vidder' by Family Four in 1971, for which the Eurovision version was done by Claes Rosendahl. Walldoff also conductedthe orchestra for Björn Skifs in the 1972 Swedish Eurovision heats. In 1975, he was the musical director of the Swedish preselection.


Country – Sweden
Song title – "Sol och vår"
Rendition – Inger Berggren 
Lyrics – Åke Gerhard
Composition – Ulf Källqvist
Studio arrangement – Hans Wahlgren
(studio orchestra conducted by Hans Wahlgren)
Live orchestration – Sven-Olof Walldoff
Conductor – Egon Kjerrman
Score – 7th place (4 votes)

Country – Sweden
Song title – "Vita vidder"
Rendition – Family Four (Marie Bergman / Pierre Einar Isacsson / Agnetha Munter / Bernd Öst)
Lyrics – Håkan Elmquist
Composition – Håkan Elmquist
Studio arrangement – Sven-Olof Walldoff
(vocal arrangement by Bernd Öst / 
studio orchestra conducted by Sven-Olof Walldoff)
Live orchestration – Claes Rosendahl
Conductor – Claes Rosendahl
Score – 6th place (85 votes)

Country – Sweden
Song title – "Waterloo"
Rendition – ABBA (Benny Andersson / Agnetha Fältskog / Anni-Frid Lyngstad / Björn Ulvaeus feat. Rutger Gunnarsson & Ola Brunkert)
Lyrics – Stig “Stikkan” Anderson
Composition – Benny Andersson / Björn Ulvaeus
Studio arrangement – Benny Andersson / Björn Ulvaeus
Live orchestration – Sven-Olof Walldoff
Conductor – Sven-Olof Walldoff
Score – 1st place (24 votes)


Born: November 18th, 1951, Tel Aviv (Israel)
Nationality: Israeli

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


After the completion of his army service in 1972, Yonatan ‘Yoni’ Rechter (יוני רכטר) studied at the Tel Aviv Music Academy and, simultaneously, joined pop group Kaveret (Poogy) as a keyboardist. In 1975, while still in Kaveret, Rechter was one of the founding members of progressive rock band Fourteen Octaves. In the course of the 1970s, Rechter started composing, arranging, and producing for some of Israel’s most renowned artists, including Arik Einstein and Gidi Gov. In 1977, his collaboration with Esther Ofarim (who took part as a singer for Switzerland in the 1963 Eurovision Song Contest) started, which has lasted to this day; he has been her pianist and musical director on all her tours in Israel and abroad. Rechter also composed classical work for various combinations, ranging from solo piano up to symphony orchestra. He arranges music for cinema, dance, and musical performances. Moreover, Rechter has also released several solo albums as a singer and performed at the 1991 Eilat Jazz Festival.


Yoni Rechter was only 22 years of age when he conducted the Israeli Eurovision entry ‘Natati la khaiai’. Including Rechter, the Poogy (Kaveret) band consisted of 7 persons, while Eurovision rules only permit six persons on stage. The decision was taken that Rechter would be the group member to cede his place on the podium and conduct the orchestra instead. ‘Natati la khaiai’ finished 7th in a field of 17 competing entries.


Country – Israel
Song title – “Natati la khaiai”
Rendition – Kaveret / Poogy (Meir Fenigstein / Gidi Gov / Yitzhak Klapter / Alon Oleartchick / Dani Sanderson / Efraim Shamir)
Lyrics – Alon Oleartchick / Dani Sanderson
Composition – Dani Sanderson
Studio arrangement – Noam Sheriff / Poogy
Live orchestration – Noam Sheriff
Conductor – Yonatan Rechter
Score – 7th place (11 votes)



Born: March 7th, 1934, Corfu (Greece)
Nationality: Greek

In due course, the short impression below will be replaced with a more extensive career overview


George Catsaros (Γιώργος Κατσαρός) is an accomplished alto saxophonist. He is, however, best-known for composing popular Greek songs for many artists, including Nana Mouskouri, Trio Athénée, Keti Garbi, and Lefteris Pantazis. Currently, Catsaros works as the art director of the City of Athens Symphony Orchestra.


George Catsaros composed and conducted Greece’s first Eurovision entry, the bouzouki dominated ‘Krassi, thalassa kai t’agori mou’ in 1974. It was sung by Marinella and finished eleventh among seventeen competing entries. In 1982, Catsaros again wrote the Greek entry, this time ‘Sarantapente kopelies’ for Themis Adamantidis, but the song was withdrawn from the competition at the instigation of its Minister of Cultural Affairs, Melina Mercouri. Thus, Catsaros was denied the opportunity to conduct in the Eurovision Song Contest for a second time.


Country – Greece
Song title – "Crasi, thalassa kai t’agori mou"
Rendition – Marinella 
Lyrics – Pythagoras 
Composition – George Catsaros
Studio arrangement – George Catsaros
Live orchestration – George Catsaros
Conductor – George Catsaros
Score – 11th place (7 votes)

Country – Greece
Song title – "Sarantapente kopelies"
Rendition – Themis Adamantidis
Lyrics – Dimitris Iatropoulos
Composition – George Catsaros
Studio arrangement – George Catsaros
Live orchestration  none / Greece withdrew
Conductor – none / Greece withdrew
Score – none / Greece withdrew


The following article is an overview of the career of British composer, arranger, and conductor Nick Ingman. The main source of information is an interview with Mr Ingman, conducted by Bas Tukker in Winchelsea, February 2013. The article is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Nick Ingman's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2013

  1. Passport
  2. Short Eurovision record
  3. Biography
  4. Eurovision Song Contest
  5. Other artists about Nick Ingman
  6. Eurovision involvement year by year
  7. Sources & links

Born: April 29th, 1948, Richmond-upon-Thames, Greater London (United Kingdom)
Nationality: British


Nick Ingman made one appearance as a conductor in the Eurovision Song Contest, leading the orchestra for the performance of ‘Long Live Love’ by Olivia Newton-John (1974); in that year’s festival final in Brighton, this UK entry finished in a joined fourth position. Later onwards, Ingman wrote the orchestration to Eurovision winner ‘Making Your Mind Up’ (UK 1981) as well as to ‘One Step Further’ (UK 1982). These songs were conducted by John Coleman and Ronnie Hazlehurst respectively.


Nicholas ‘Nick’ Ingman grew up in a middleclass family in Pimlico, Central London. “My mother was a ballet dancer and my father; well, he was a jack of all trades. Before the war, he had been a percussionist in dance bands and a music journalist for The Melody Maker. In 1940, he joined the army and saw action in North Africa and Italy. At war’s end, he had been promoted all the way up to lieutenant-colonel. Back in London, he found employment at an American advertising agency, where he stayed on for the next thirty odd years.” 

When Nick was eleven years old, his mother bought him a record player. “That is how it all started. I used to buy 7-inch singles and I took up a liking for mainstream pop. Especially the Beatles were mesmerising, but I listened to anything ranging from the Rolling Stones to Burt Bacharach’s songs. Right from the beginning, I was more interested in the instrumental backing than in the singers. It fascinated me how such music was made. I checked out each record’s credits, trying to find out who was responsible. All of this pretty much got me hooked… though I did not know yet what it was called, I knew I wanted to be an arranger.”

Contrary to many other musicians, therefore, Ingman’s fascination for music began with pop right away. “The piano teacher my father sent me to when he sensed my interest in music, only taught me classical piano. Nonetheless, I stayed with him for many years. As a student at secondary school, Westminster School in London, I was terrible, because I was just interested in pop music and girls – in that order. Like with my piano teacher, the school’s music lessons were hardcore classical. Could I write a motet in the style of Palestrina? No, because I did not want to. I put together a pop group with some friends, with me playing the keyboards. There was another, very ambitious guy in the school who was also into pop music, Andrew Lloyd Webber. We did several projects together.”

As a secondary school student, remarkably, Ingman scored a UK chart hit as a songwriter, ‘So Long Little Girl’ by The Dictators (1964). “I was sixteen years old when I wrote that song. In fact, I was writing songs all the time, trying to be the new Paul McCartney. The material was usually played by the group I was in. When my father heard me play this song, he thought it was quite good and contacted a friend of his in the music industry. Subsequently, I was given a songwriting contract for this one item, which was recorded by The Dictators. I thought it was an appalling recording, but I was sixteen, had no self-confidence; and they did what they did. I still can see no good reason why such a horrible recording would have been a hit.”

Bournemouth-based rock band The Dictators with Tony & Howard had a hit with Nick Ingman's composition 'So Long Little Girl' in 1964

After leaving school, Nick continued taking piano and music theory lessons, but he also broadened his spectrum by studying the trumpet and trombone with Norman Burgess, the principal trumpet player of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Moreover, between 1964 and 1966, he took private lessons in jazz composition and arranging with Graham Collier. 

“Since my father had been in the music business, he tried to discourage me in my ambition of becoming a professional musician, as he knew how tough that life could be. After he had accepted that I was not to be discouraged, he decided to help me. Realising I was not happy with the classical education I was getting, he put an ad in The Melody Maker asking for anyone who could teach pop arranging. Jazz composer Graham Collier, a high-profile name in the 60s, answered the call and taught me for a couple of years. He was very important, as he introduced me to jazz music and recommended me to consider going to the Berklee in Boston, where he had been a student himself. At that time, it was literally the only place in the world where regular music courses that were non-classical were on offer.”

Nick decided to heed the advice of his teacher and, at just eighteen years old, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he studied composition, arranging, and music theory with professors Herb Pomeroy and Alfred Clausen at the Berklee School of Music (1966-68); during his time in America, he also took some courses at the New England Conservatory of Music. 

“Coming to America was a huge culture shock for several reasons. First, being from an English middleclass background, I had to adapt to staying in a slummy, rundown neighbourhood of Boston, in an apartment infested by cockroaches. Then there was the Vietnam War… it was shocking to have a guy sitting next to you in class one week being drafted into the army the next – and never coming back! As a foreigner, I was privileged not to have to dread this fate, but it was an uncomfortable feeling and all in all it felt wrong being there. There was also the positive shock of finding myself surrounded by an amazing scene of jazz bands, small groups, and big bands. At any time of day or night, there was a band of fellow students playing somewhere. I wrote my first arrangements for one of those bands. In retrospect, this was my real education, more than the rather archaic courses at Berklee, though I was extremely motivated and studied really hard – even more so because I was slightly homesick and wanted to get back to Britain sooner rather than later.”

Promotional photo taken on the occasion of the release of Ingman’s instrumental record ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ (1971)

Upon his return to London (autumn 1968), Nick Ingman received an interview with Norrie Paramor, one of England’s most successful record producers, who had just broken away from EMI and set up his own company, the Norrie Paramor Organisation (NPO). Paramor decided to give the promising Berklee graduate a six month trial as his assistant arranger and producer, and, in the end, Ingman stayed on with him for six years (1968-74). At Paramor’s advice, Nick took a postgraduate course of composing with Edmund Rubbra at the Guildhall School of Music in London (1969). 

“At that time, I did not really want to go to Guildhall, but it was important to get some classical background. Norrie was a great mentor, who untaught me a lot of the academic nonsense I had been taught at Berklee. The first scores I wrote for him were for the Big Ben Hawaiian Band, one of his studio orchestras. Checking them, he just put a big red mark across them, which was embarrassing. The main thing he taught me is the old cliché ‘less is more’ – not every song needs a grandiose orchestration. Moreover, he showed me how important it was to be gentlemanly and patient in working with insecure artists, some of whom were not very talented. Norrie was an ideal producer of the old school – let's not forget, the man had more number one hit records than George Martin!”

Under Paramor’s guidance, Ingman worked with many of the stars in his stable, including most notably Cliff Richard and The Shadows, but also John Rowles, Malcolm Roberts, The Scaffold, Frank Ifield, and Sacha Distel. After Nick had taken some private conducting lessons at Guildhall, Paramor trusted him with conducting arrangements during studio sessions as well. 

“I had done one or two conducting master classes at Berklee, but I felt very insecure about it, upon which I decided to turn to a Guildhall teacher, who taught me the basic techniques one on one. The thing about conducting is; I could teach anyone the techniques in five minutes, but conducting with confidence and at the same time knowing how to psychologically deal with eighty orchestra musicians is not teachable. I conducted my first studio session in 1969 for a Cliff Richard single recording. In the years with Norrie, I arranged lots of album tracks for Cliff and the flipsides of many of his single releases. I also wrote scores for Cliff’s TV show. Of course it was nice working with such an established artist."

"Another talented guy I teamed up with in those years was Labi Siffre, who wrote his own record arrangements, but wanted me to check and conduct them. At Norrie’s request, I came up with some solo instrumental recordings, such as 'Jesus Christ Superstar', which was released in West Germany on the Polydor label in 1971. I did what Norrie wanted, but reluctantly – I always liked the vision of being the background guy more than being famous or up front.”

One of Ingman’s solo instrumental albums, ‘Terminator’ (1976)

In 1974, Norrie Paramor sold his record company to become the chief conductor of BBC’s Midlands Orchestra in Birmingham, meaning that Ingman had to go freelance. With producer Peter Gormley taking over Paramor’s office in London’s Harley Street, Ingman stayed there for some years, working extensively with another producer, Norman Newell, for some ten years, doing studio projects with vocalists such as Bobby Crush, Vince Hill and Petula Clark. 

“Apart from my involvement with Newell’s artists, I was lucky to continue arranging and recording music with Paramor’s former protégés, who stayed with me; Cliff Richard, Geoff Love, and Claude François, to name just three. Another commission which Norrie passed onto me was writing the arrangements for the pantomimes, which were performed annually during the winter season in the London Palladium. Though it never really was my ambition to work on theatre, it was a great experience writing these scores and I wrote the arrangements for three of these pantomime shows in second half of the 1970s. Funnily, Paramor himself called on me again, as he had thrown away the entire music library of the Midlands Orchestra, instead getting young arrangers to write fresh, new material. In the following years, I composed some 100 charts for him.”

When Paramor got ill and died in 1979, Nick Ingman was asked to take over as main conductor of the BBC Midlands Orchestra, though he never relinquished his freelance status. Later onwards, he also regularly conducted the BBC Radio Orchestra. In a very different corner of the business, Nick joined the newly formed Mingles Music, with David Mindel and David Seys, as resident writer producing TV and radio jingles and commercials. Starting in the mid-1970s, however, Nick’s main source of income for the next ten odd years became instrumental recordings, so-called library music and beautiful music.

“Library music is instrumental music used for TV, radio, and films," Nick explains. "I recorded arrangements which were paid for by a music publisher, who would try to sell them; if you were lucky, titles were picked up as background music or signature tunes for TV programmes. It was quite lucrative, as airplay for my music resulted in royalties."

"Beautiful music, on the other hand, is a purely American phenomenon. Until the end of the 1980s, radio stations in America were divided in rock stations and the Adult Orientated FM stations. The FM stations did not play the original records, but instead broadcasted instrumental covers of hits. The IBMA, the International Beautiful Music Organisation, was run by Mormons and owned about eighty radio stations across America. They were hugely wealthy! It all started when Frank Chacksfield, an old school bandleader here in England who worked for the IBMA, asked me to write some arrangements for him. The head music producer of IBMA found out who the original arranger was, contacted me directly – and it resulted in my recording some 300 to 400 titles every year!"

Close up, c. 1979

"Later, I also started working extensively for the American Reader’s Digest Music Division, producing similar instrumental recordings. I often played the same arrangements I wrote for America in the radio programmes with the BBC Midlands and BBC Radio Orchestras. I worked with both of the BBC orchestras until the second half of the 1980s.”

Continuing his involvement with the BBC, Ingman composed several signature tunes, most notably the sitcoms Don’t Wait Up (1983-90) and Keeping Up Appearances (1990-95). Meanwhile, in the 1980s and early 1990s, he still regularly worked as an arranger for pop records for the likes of The Fine Young Cannibals, Daryl Hall, Sarah Jane Morris, and the Spanish gypsy duo Azucar Moreno. For Sade, he orchestrated three albums, while Everything But The Girl's album ‘Baby, The Stars Shine Bright’ was conducted by Ingman. His biggest hit as an arranger in this decade was ‘Nothing compares 2 U’ by Irish songstress Sinéad O’Connor (1989).

"That was one of the records I was most surprised about when it became a hit. When we recorded it, nobody anticipated this. It was a massive, massive hit - and at the same time Sinéad was such a shy, retiring lady. It was hard to imagine her being this icon. It was one of those records that you just kept on hearing and hearing. I was pleased to be involved in that as a string arranger."

“Nonetheless, I was lucky not to be dependent on pop records in the 1980s. In the music which sold in the 80s, the plastic sound created by drum machines, samples, and synthesisers was everywhere and I thought, like so many others, that my career in that field was over; arrangers weren't needed anymore, it seemed. It was thanks to the beautiful music phenomenon that I did not have to worry – for the moment.”

This situation was one of the reasons Nick Ingman accepted an offer from his old teacher Graham Collier to join the newly formed Jazz Department at the Royal Academy of Music in 1987. 

“Even though Graham did not like pop music, he thought his students needed some tuition in that field. The original idea was to hold an hour’s lecture on commercial music once a week. Very soon, however, it turned out there was a huge appetite for my lectures and, within a year, the academy asked me to set up a Commercial Music Department, which I ran until 1997 – not that they were enthusiastic about pop music, because the outlook of the Royal Academy was always purely classical; but even they recognised that there was a commercial field out there."

Conducting the Royal Academy of Music’s Student Orchestra in a concert showcasing students’ compositions (c. 1990)

"I used to liken my department to going to the dentist: you hate to do it, but you have to do it. At that time, the Commercial Music Department was the only place in the UK which offered education in light entertainment music. I grew to like teaching very much, interacting with youngsters who challenged me to the utmost. Some of them were conservatoire students doing a course with us, other were rock ‘n rollers who, like me back in the 1960s, wanted more background, for example learning how to arrange for classical instruments.” 

Later onwards, Ingman also lectured at the London College of Music as a Visiting Professor for some ten years.

From the early 1990s onwards, Ingman has worked as a film orchestrator and conductor. His association with composer Stephen Warbeck produced a number of films, such as Mrs. Brown (1997), Shakespeare In Love (1998), and Billy Elliot (2000). The Shakespeare In Love soundtrack was awarded with an Oscar, as was the music to Finding Neverland (2004), which Ingman conducted for composer Jan Kaczmarek. Other movies Nick Ingman orchestrated and/or conducted include Lara Croft – Tomb Raider (2001), Pirates Of The Caribbean – The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003), and The Passion of the Christ (2004). Moreover, he also arranged and conducted music for many TV films and series. 

“I got started in the film business thanks to Isobel Griffiths, a film music contractor. Though the skills and musicality of film composers vary immensely, I have enjoyed working on soundtracks. With average Hollywood movies having a budget of over 100 million dollars, the pressures in the film music industry are immense. Generally speaking, the budgets have decreased over the last few years, but American composers keep on coming over to England to record their work.”

While Ingman was convinced his involvement in pop music was slowly petering out, Britpop raised its head in the 1990s... and he became the single-most sought-after string arranger for groups in this genre, working extensively with the major acts of the day; Manic Street Preachers, Oasis, Portishead, Suede, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, and Menswear. 

Conducting a film score (2011)

“It more or less started with Oasis, four rock kids from Manchester without any musical background but obsessed by the Beatles. That was in 1993. Their lead singer Noel Gallagher basically wanted to be a Beatle and insisted on Beatle arrangements to his songs. Once Noel had accepted that it would not be possible to have the same session musicians as the Beatles had had for their albums, we got on well. The way Oasis presented their songs to me, was all over the place. I considered it my job into taking that chaotic situation and turning it into a record that sold. Much more than from composing, I have always got a kick out of arranging other people’s work into a unit of music. Arranging is a craft, like woodwork or shipbuilding.”

“It would be too easy to write grandiose pop string arrangements, but at the end of the day the strings come in third place behind the vocals and the rhythm instruments. Details can hardly be heard. For that reason, it is important to write strings in primary colours, artistically speaking; big red, big black - you cannot be subtle. On a whole, it has to be simple and hooky. "Hooks buy houses," is what I told Pascal Obispo, a French singer I worked with in the 1990s, when he said he wanted very intricate, interesting string parts for his album. I convinced him that his ideas would not work, given the fact that his repertoire was firmly rock ‘n roll. Five years and a successful album later, I went back to visit him in his Champs-Elysées seven bedroom house. When I remarked half-jokingly that this was the house that the hook had bought, he conceded I had been right!” 

Away from Britpop, Nick Ingman worked as an arranger and conductor with Obispo, but with many more conventional pop and rock artists in the 1990s as well, including many high profile ones such as the Pet Shop Boys, Boy George, Chris DeBurgh, Enrique Iglesias, Bonnie Tyler, Louise Redknapp, Joe Cocker, Wet Wet Wet, Tina Turner, Johnny Hallyday, Charlotte Church, and Diana Ross. For Radiohead, he conducted the studio sessions for their highly acclaimed ‘OK Computer’ album (1997), whilst he also was involved in arranging Eric Clapton’s CD ‘Pilgrim’ (1998). Worldwide hits including Robbie Williams’ ‘Millennium’ (1998) and ‘Rock DJ’ (2000) as well as ‘High’ by the Lighthouse Family (1998) were scored by Ingman as well.

Due to his extensive studio work, Nick Ingman has only intermittently performed on stage. In 1997, he arranged and conducted a concert in New York with Portishead and the New York Philharmonic, whilst he performed in a six week sell-out series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall with Cliff Richard and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the same year. After several foreign concerts with Cliff and different classical orchestras, Ingman accompanied Eric Clapton with a string section on his Pilgrim tour. For Britpop formation Blur, he wrote orchestral versions of their most successful hits for their Wembley concert (1999). 

In 2000, Ingman performed with the German NDR Pops Orchestra at the Expo 2000 in Hanover with several artists, including Ray Charles, while he conducted the same orchestra in a one-off gig with German pop icon Herbert Grönemeyer at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. In 2004, he returned to the Royal Albert Hall in London, conducting the Refugee Voices for Darfur charity concert. A very special commission which came Ingman’s way was the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, for which he led the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK) accompanying a host of different international artists. In 2011, he again conducted the Royal Philharmonic in a film music concert celebrating the eightieth birthday of the Abbey Road Studios in London.

In his working room (2013)

After the turn of the century, Nick Ingman has remained much in demand with pop and rock artists, such as Kylie Minogue, Whitney Houston, Peter Gabriel, Sugababes, Madonna, Il Divo, Elton John, Will Young, Björk, John Legend, and the Black Eyed Peas. For Herbert Grönemeyer, he arranged several consecutive studio CDs, whilst also teaming up with Eric Clapton for new album projects. Ingman was involved in hit successes such as ‘It’s Raining Men’ by Geri Halliwell (2001) and ‘Light My Fire’ by Will Young (2002), and multi-million selling album releases, most notably ‘The Voice’ by counter-tenor Russell Watson (2001) and the highly acclaimed ‘Life For Rent’ by Dido (2003). 

“For ‘White Flag’, one of the songs on ‘Life For Rent’, Dido’s brother and producer Rollo Armstrong told me he wanted something out of the box at the beginning of the song to contrast with the simplicity of the tune itself. With an unusual intro, he aimed at the start of the actual song coming as a surprise. The 20 second introduction I wrote for that song has become kind of iconic and very recognisable – it is one of my pop arrangements I am personally most pleased with.”

In total, Nick Ingman’s work as an arranger of pop records has so far resulted in thirteen number one records and five double platinum records in the United Kingdom alone. He has been nominated for a Grammy on three occasions: for arranging Eric Clapton’s album ‘Pilgrim’ (1998) and Sade’s multi-million selling release ‘Lover’s Rock’ (2000) as well as for his role as a conductor of a new cast album of 'West Side Story' with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (2007). Earlier onwards, in 1991, the Peter Knight Award was bestowed upon Ingman for his arrangement to ‘1992’, the national anthem of the European Community. In recognition of Ingman’s educational work, the Royal Academy of Music awarded him with a Honorary Membership in 2001. Later onwards, he also received an Honorary LCM for his lectures as a Visiting Professor at the London College of Music in the 1990s and 2000s. In 2010, he was inducted into the Musician’s Union Hall of Fame.

Apart from his work in pop music, Ingman keeps being involved in recording film music and composing advertisement jingles. In 2012, he orchestrated ‘First Steps’ for Elbow, the official song for that year’s Olympic Games in London which includes a huge symphonic intro. 

“Over the years,” Ingman concludes, “my outlook on music has changed. True, today’s pop music is not always to my taste, but as I am involved in recording strings for contemporary pop artists and the X Factor TV show, I think it is part of my job to keep up to date with modern developments in that field. I am happy to be part of the business.”

At home in Winchelsea (February 2013)


Nick Ingman arranged and conducted the 1974 United Kingdom entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, ‘Long Live Love’ performed by Olivia Newton-John. The song was composed by Harold Jacob Spiro with lyrics by Valerie Avon. Though born in England, Olivia Newton-John had grown up in Australia. Coming back to the UK to pursue a career in music, she was recommended to Norrie Paramor by Cliff Richard’s manager Peter Gormley. From 1968 to 1974, Nick Ingman was under contract with Paramor as his assistant arranger. When Gormley convinced those responsible at the BBC that Newton-John was the right choice for Eurovision, Ingman was commissioned to arrange half of the six songs selected for A Song for Europe, in which Olivia was the sole contender.

“The other half was taken care of by Brian Bennett, who was the Shadows’ drummer and a very talented arranger. The deal was that the arranger of the winning song would conduct it in Eurovision. By 1974, Olivia was a familiar face to me. She had been part of Norrie Paramor’s entourage for several years. About every second week, she performed in the Cliff Richard Show, for which I wrote part of the arrangements. Olivia was pleasant girl who knew what she wanted. When the Eurovision project came our way, Norrie probably felt it was a young persons’ thing – anyway, he decided not to get involved himself. Olivia’s producer John Farrar passed the arranging job onto me and Brian. The Song for Europe orchestra was backstage, so Brian Bennett and I didn't get any TV exposure.”

“Before that, I recorded the orchestral backing of the three songs that had been allotted to me with a group of session players in the Abbey Road Studio in London. All musicians in the studio were joking about which one would win. Two of the songs were called ‘Someday’ and ‘Angel Eyes’, beautiful ballads which allowed Olivia to showcase her vocal abilities. Brian’s three songs were nice, too – the only odd one out was ‘Long Live Love’, which was some sort of march. When I conducted the opening bars and the studio musicians started playing, we all stopped and burst into laughter… and we said, "That's the winner!" It was so typically Eurovision! Composer Harold Spiro sent me a demo and told me very bluntly that his ideas on it had to be copied. He insisted on boom boom; and in a commercial way, he was right, because ‘Long Live Love’ won the ticket to Eurovision. Olivia hated the song, but Spiro's concept had paid off. The British audience voted for his song.

One of ‘his’ three songs having won, Nick Ingman was now bound to conduct the orchestra for Olivia Newton-John’s Eurovision Song Contest performance as well. That year, the international Eurovision final took place in Brighton. Because of Ingman’s involvement as the musical director of the British entry, that year’s chief conductor, Ronnie Hazlehurst, did not get to conduct his orchestra for any of the participating songs. 

Olivia Newton John performing 'Long Live Love' on the Eurovision stage in Brighton (1974)

When asked about his memories of Brighton, Nick Ingman laughs, “Well, I wish it had been abroad. It would have made the experience more special for me, though it was special in one way – it was my last commission under Norrie Paramor before he sold his record company and left for the BBC Midlands Orchestra. In Brighton, the atmosphere was pretty unique; due to the IRA threat, security was very high. Literally in the street outside the pavilion where the contest was held, there were tanks and guys with guns. This made me even more nervous than I already was; remember, I was only 26 years old and people kept telling me over and over again how many millions of people would tune in. It would be my first TV appearance anyway – in such a huge live event!"

"The rehearsals were kind of unpleasant, as they mainly consisted of hanging around, hours and hours of doing nothing and waiting to rehearse your three-minute-song. For security reasons, it was not allowed to attend the other delegations’ rehearsals. The conducting job itself was simple. There was no more to remember than the tempo; and that was not hard to remember, because it was a march! Olivia kept her calm and there were no hiccups during our preparations.”

In the end, ‘Long Live Love’ tied for fourth place with two other countries, with Sweden’s ABBA storming to victory with ‘Waterloo’. 

“I hadn't listened to any of the other songs before the concert itself, but as soon as ABBA came on and the melody started, I knew we didn't have a hope in hell of winning the contest. ‘Waterloo’ is not a great pop song, but in the Eurovision genre it stood out big time. Moreover, the two girls were pretty, they bounced around the stage, and wore funny clothes. Even their conductor (Sven-Olof Walldoff, BT) was part of the performance; he wore a Napoleon hat! ABBA demonstrated that you can be commercial and have a great pop record as well. It was a foregone conclusion that they would win it.”

Single release of Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Long Live Love’, signed by its arranger, Nick Ingman

Though Ingman did not return to the festival as a conductor, he was involved in writing the orchestrations to two more UK entries, the first one being ‘Making Your Mind Up’ for Bucks Fizz, the eventual 1981 Eurovision winner. How did Ingman get involved this time? 

“Andy Hill was one of the composers of the song. I met him at the Mingles jingle company, where we both worked in the late 1970s. He was such an incredibly talented guy! With his girlfriend and manager Nicky Martin, he had casted four singers for the Bucks Fizz project, and recorded the song in the studio."

"In the record version, there are no orchestral instruments – and it would have been fine that way for the Eurovision Song Contest as well; but the rules were that the orchestra was obligatory, so Andy asked me to take care of writing a live orchestration. I made a very simple, primary colour arrangement. BBC’s choice John Coleman conducted it, a nice fellow. It was a good pop song and stood a pretty good chance of winning anyway, but, even though I hate to say it, the gimmick of taking the skirts of half way through clinched it. It was a masterstroke by Nicky Martin, a very astute woman. It was so clever; it was cute and sexy without being provocative. I went on to arrange several studio records for Bucks Fizz afterwards.”

Bucks Fizz on the Eurovision stage in Dublin (1981)

The 1982 UK entry, ‘One step further’ by Bardo (a duo made up of Sally Ann Triplett and Stephen Fischer), was composed by Simon Jeffries and produced by Andy Hill. It was conducted by Ronnie Hazlehurst and finished seventh. Like the year before, the studio version of the song was recorded with just a rhythm section and electronic instruments, but for the Eurovision Song Contest, an orchestral remake was obligatory. 

“It was very much an upbeat song and it was very hard to recreate the studio version into a live orchestration,” Ingman recalls. “Andy Hill told me he wanted the orchestral version essentially to be as similar to the record as possible. It was an impossible task and it would have been better to use backing tracks for the rhythm elements. Frankly, I don't remember much of it, but I wouldn't be surprised if Ronnie Hazlehurst, who was the chief conductor of the show, insisted on doing it entirely live.”

"Eurovision didn't really have an impact on my career, but I've enjoyed it. It was good being a part of it at least one time - and thinking back of all those memories is something which I enjoy now and then."

Bardo's Sally Ann Triplett and Stephen Fischer after winning the 1982 Song for Europe, surrounded by the previous year's winners Bucks Fizz and host Terry Wogan

So far, we have not gathered memories of other artists who worked with Nick Ingman.


Country – United Kingdom
Song title – "Long Live Love"
Rendition – Olivia Newton-John
Lyrics – Valerie Avon / Harold Jacob Spiro
Composition – Valerie Avon / Harold Jacob Spiro
Studio arrangement – Nick Ingman
Live orchestration – Nick Ingman
Conductor – Nick Ingman
Score – 4th place (14 votes)

Country – United Kingdom
Song title – "Making Your Mind Up"
Rendition – Bucks Fizz 
(Jay Aston / Cheryl Baker / Bobby G / Mike Nolan)
Lyrics – John Danter / Andy Hill
Composition – John Danter / Andy Hill
Studio arrangement – Andy Hill
Live orchestration – Nick Ingman 
Conductor – John Coleman
Score – 1st place (136 votes)

Country – United Kingdom
Song title – "One Step Further"
Rendition – Bardo (Stephen Fischer & Sally Ann Triplett)
Lyrics – Simon Jefferis
Composition – Simon Jefferis
Studio arrangement – Andy Hill
Live orchestration – Nick Ingman
Conductor – Ronnie Hazlehurst (MD)
Score – 7th place (76 votes)

  • Bas Tukker interviewed Nick Ingman in Winchelsea, East Sussex, February 2013
  • Photos courtesy of Nick Ingman & Ferry van der Zant