Friday 22 August 1975

1975 NORDRING RADIO PRIZE

Edition number - 3
Date - August 19-22, 1975
Location - NRK Store Studio, Oslo (Norway)
Orchestra - Norwegian Radio Orchestra (Kringkastingsorkestret)
Musical director - Sigurd Jansen
Number of participating countries - 9
Jury - Theo Ordeman (Netherlands); and others
Overall winning entry / best production - Norway / Eva Schram & Terje Hoel
Award best solo vocalist - Greetje Kauffeld (Netherlands)
Award best arrangement - Sigurd Jansen (Norway)

The prize winners at Nordring 1975, from left to right: Greetje Kauffeld (award for best vocalist, Netherlands), Sigurd Jansen (best arranger), and the winning Norwegian production team - Eva Schram and Terje Hoel

PARTICIPANTS

BELGIUM (BRT)
Programme - "Love Story”
Rendition - Micha Marah & Jeremy feat. Raymond van het Groenewoud & The Group
Arrangement - Roger Morès
Conductor - unknown (possibly Maurice Bonnaerens)
Production - Yvonne Verelst

DENMARK (DR)
Programme - “Contrasts”
Rendition - Michael Elo / Ina Londahl / Sanne Salomonsen / Eddie Skoller / Nils Tuxen
Conductor - Peder Kragerup
Production - Peer Møller

FINLAND (YLE)
Programme - title unknown
Host - Martha Caber-Akkanen
Vocals - Carita Holmström / Maija Hapuoja
Conductor - Nacke Johansson
Production - Tapio Lipponen

IRELAND (RTÉ)
Programme - “Zodiac. A Musical Horoscope”
Vocals - Anne Bushnell / Sonny Knowles 
Conductor - Noel Kelehan
Production - Johnny Devlin

NETHERLANDS (NOS)
Programme - “The One and Only Harold Arlen”
Vocals - Greetje Kauffeld / Mark Murphy 
Trumpet & bugle - Ack van Rooyen 
Alto saxophone - Piet Noordijk
Tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone & flute - Ferdinand Povel
Arrangement - Rob Pronk / Jerry van Rooyen
Production - Jan van Riemsdijk

Part of the Dutch Nordring entry in 1975

NORWAY (NRK)
Programme - “A Most Happy Century”
Narrator - Wenche Foss
Vocals - Ellen Nikolaysen / Odd Børre with The Bendik Singers  (Wenche Hallan / Bjørn Kruse / Philip Kruse)
Arrangement - Sigurd Jansen
Conductor - Sigurd Jansen
Production - Eva Schram / Terje Hoel

SWEDEN (SR)
Programme - “House of Music”
Introduction - Ulf Elfving
Vocals - Lena Ericsson / Björn Skifs 
Guitar - Janne Schaffer 
Arrangement - Lars Samuelson
Conductor - Lars Samuelson
 Introduced by Ulf Elfving 
Production - Rune Hallberg / Lars Hamberg

UNITED KINGDOM (BBC)
Programme - “Music in Motion. The Evolution of Transport in Music”
Sopranos - Pat Whitmore & Joanne Browne
Tenor - Nick Curtis
Baritone - Leslie Fyson
Harp - Marie Goossens 
Special sound effects - Paddy Kingsland, Radiophonic Workshop
Conductor - Peter Knight
Production - Monica Cockburn
Production assistant - Mel House

WEST GERMANY (NDR)
Programme - “A German Hit Parade”
Vocals - Ursula May / Peter Horton
Harmonica - Bernie Fields 
Saxophone & flute - Berb Geller
Guitar - Hans Haider 
Arrangement - Karl Heinz Loges
Conductor - Karl Heinz Loges
Production - Tim Bontjes van Beek

Below, three images of the Netherlands' Nordring representatives of 1975, one taken in Hilversum (standing, left to right: Ferdinand Povel, Dolf van der Linden, Ack van Rooyen, and Piet Noordijk / below them - Mark Murphy and Greetje Kauffeld), and two others in rehearsals in Oslo

Saturday 22 March 1975

NATALE MASSARA

The following article is an overview of the career of Italian clarinettist, composer, arranger, and conductor Natale Massara. The main source of information is an interview with Mr Massara, conducted by Bas Tukker in March 2020. The article is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to Natale Massara's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2020


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

Born: December 23rd, 1942, Oleggio (Italy)
Nationality: Italian

SHORT EUROVISION RECORD

Natale Massara took part in the Eurovision Song Contest on one occasion, co-arranging and conducting the 1975 Italian entry ‘Era’, performed by the duo Wess & Dori Ghezzi. At that year’s festival final in Stockholm, Italy picked up 115 points, finishing third behind Teach In (Netherlands) and The Shadows (United Kingdom).

BIOGRAPHY

Pier Natale Massara was born and raised in Oleggio, a small town in Piedmont, Northern Italy, where his parents ran a hairdresser salon. Though not in a professional way, his family was truly passionate about music.

“Yes, especially on the paternal side,” Massara comments. “My father played the trombone, as did one of my uncles – and the other was a good tuba player. One of my nephews was first trombonist at the Scala Theatre Orchestra in Milan. My sister studied the violin. Almost everyone played an instrument, and those who did not, were excellent singers. It was only natural that, when I turned six years old, I was sent to study the clarinet with the conductor of the local philharmonic band, in which my father played. The piano would have been the instrument of my own choice, but as a band on the march requires wind instruments more than a piano, the clarinet was picked on my behalf. From that point on, music was the focal point in my life. I liked the boy scouts as well, I liked playing football, but when there was a choice between either of those and studying music, music always won out. After two years of study, at eight years, I was deemed good enough to be in the band.”

Young Natale, a proud member of Oleggio’s philharmonic band, with local politician – and future Italian president – Oscar Luigi Scalfaro (c. 1951)

In that same year, Natale also took up studying the piano while continuing his clarinet studies, still with the local band conductor. Some years later, he was sent to the music school in Novara, a town close by, where he passed the clarinet exam of the fifth year with flying colours (1957). One of the examiners involved turned out to be Alamiro Giampieri, composer and teacher at Milan’s Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi; Giampieri, convinced by the young student’s talent as a clarinettist, advised Natale’s father to send his son to conservatoire. The following years, the aspiring adolescent made the lengthy journey to Milan by train and bus every weekday. Meanwhile, during weekends, he played in a local combo in Oleggio. Rather unexpectedly, in 1959, opportunity knocked at his door, when he auditioned to join the accompanying band of Adriano Celentano, a fledgling rock-‘n’-roll singer.

“Another student told me that Celentano was looking for a saxophonist. Of course, I wasn’t a sax player, but borrowing a saxophone from a friend of mine, I taught myself to play in a week. At the audition, there were Celentano’s musical director Detto Mariano and two other guys who had already been picked – and apparently I did a good job at the audition, because I was chosen. In those days, entertainment music was frowned upon among conservatory teachers, but I decided to be frank with them, explaining how I had been living off my parents’ money for some years now, and about the long journeys from Oleggio to Milan and back; and they appreciated my honesty, allowing me to go ahead with the rock group.”

“With the money I earned by playing with Celentano, I was able to rent an apartment in Milan. In the meantime, Celentano was fully aware that, in cases where I had to choose between the music academy and playing with him, my studies would always have precedence. Once, when Adriano was invited to perform on Spanish television, I didn’t join him, as there was an important concert with the conservatoire orchestra in which I played the clarinet – a concert to celebrate the inauguration of the school’s renovated auditorium. On this occasion, the orchestra was conducted by… Riccardo Muti, who was a fellow-student and a good friend of mine! When I turned eighteen, I bought myself a small car, which allowed me to rush from gigs with Celentano to the conservatory and back. In fact, I was so well-liked among my professors, that they persuaded the headmaster to allow me to park my car in the academy’s courtyard when I was late for college!”

Natale (left) at the music academy with fellow-student Bruno Canino by his side (c. 1959)

Throughout the 1960s, Natale Massara led a double life, because, parallel to his career in popular music, he continued his classical music studies – even beyond his conservatoire diploma, which he obtained in 1962 after playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major at his final exam accompanied by a fellow-student, the later famous concert pianist Bruno Canino. In the following decade, he advanced his music knowledge by studying the piano as well as composition and conducting with conservatory professors – most notably Bruno Bettinelli (composition), Franco Ferrara, and Carlo Savina (conducting).

Meanwhile, in 1961, far away from the serenity of the Verdi Conservatoire, Adriano Celentano had become a star in Italy and even beyond with his breakthrough chart success ‘24.000 baci’, for which Natale took care of the all-important sax solos. I Ribelli, as Celentano’s accompanying group had been baptised, accompanied studio sessions with other artists signed by Celentano’s Clan music label as well, whilst the group also performed solo now and again.

“Suddenly, I found myself in a world which was the exact opposite of the academy and classical music, but I had already taken an interest in rock ‘n’ roll before Celentano came along. I had always had an open ear to all music styles. In fact, while still living in Oleggio, I was the leader of a band which played at local events – and we tried to imitate the American sound we heard on the radio. Rock may have been simple music, but many of the recordings were done by excellent instrumentalists. Thanks to Celentano, my career took a completely different direction; otherwise, I would probably have been a clarinettist in classical orchestras, something I would have been happy doing just as much.”

With American star-singer Connie Francis (c. 1962)

“Instead, I became part of a movement of modernisation of Italian popular music, which occurred somewhat later than in the countries around us. The style was old-fashioned – a popular band leader such as Cinico Angelini was a great musician, but his approach was completely secluded from developments in America and in the UK. Modugno and Celentano were the first to rattle the gates, but it took quite some more years to break the mould. After ‘24.000 baci’, the same kind of rock-‘n’-roll hysteria broke out as with Bill Haley in America – or later the Beatles in Europe. Across Italy, during our concerts, youngsters celebrated the discovery of a new world of music and popular culture… in a way, we heralded the true beginning of the 1960s in Italy.”

In 1966, for the first time, pop groups were allowed to take part in Italy’s most popular music competition, the San Remo Festival. While Adriano Celentano took part with his self-penned ‘Il ragazzo della Via Gluck’ in San Remo 1966, I Ribelli were allowed into the competition with ‘A la buena de Dios’. Awkwardly, Celentano was eliminated in the semi-finals, whilst I Ribelli went through to the final evening. 

“Unfortunately, we had not been allowed to pick our own song of choice. ‘A la buena de Dios’ was given to us by the organisation of the festival. It wasn’t a song which was suitable to be played in a rock style – and so we didn’t try, but nonetheless we were the only group to reach the final! Celentano couldn’t believe what happened. He was always a firm believer in a solo artist being backed up by a group – even when the Beatles burst onto the world stage, he couldn’t believe they would last without a guy up front. When we went through to the final evening and he didn’t, he claimed it was because the organisation wanted at least one group in the final. As a way of protesting against his elimination, he gave us wigs to wear during our performance, which we had to throw away half way through."

Natale Massara (centre stage) with I Ribelli performing ‘A la buena de Dios’ in the 1966 San Remo Festival final

"In a way, this was a signal to us that we had to continue our path independently as I Ribelli. Leaving Celentano and his music label, we signed a record deal with another company, Dischi Ricordi. There, we finally made up for the problem that we didn’t really have a good vocalist in our midst by inviting Demetrio Stratos, a Greek singer with a marvellous voice, to join us. With him, our style became much more rhythm-and-blues.”

In 1967, with Stratos in their ranks, I Ribelli managed their biggest hit with ‘Pugni chiusi’, which they performed across Italy in the Cantagiro summer festival. At the same time, Natale Massara was steadily moving away from being an instrumentalist and performer to becoming a studio arranger. With his classical background and skills at sight-reading, he had become a popular choice as a session player for different arrangers and record companies – and at some point, it was inevitable that Massara would venture writing arrangements himself. In 1968, he wrote the score to I Ribelli’s follow-up single to ‘Pugni chiusi’, a song called ‘Nel sole, nel vento, nel sorriso e nel pianto’, whilst, around the same time, also orchestrating ‘Felicità, felicità’, with which Gian Pieretti enjoyed considerable success at Cantagiro.

“Writing arrangements was a logical next step. By the end of the 1960s, I was still studying music theory with several professors in Milan. At some point, knowing of my classical studies, one of the directors of Dischi Ricordi suggested to me writing scores for them. Writing arrangements, or rather orchestrations, was an ambition I had had for some years. Being an orchestrator means dressing up a song with classical instruments and, thereby, becoming part of the composition."

"For a year or two, I remained a band member of I Ribelli parallel to my writing activities, but my schedule became more and more gruelling as more arranging commissions were coming my way. After getting home from a concert, I sat down in the early hours of the night to write a music score, rushed into the studio early in the morning to record it, and then jumped into the car again to get to Padua or wherever for another concert. Sometimes, I didn’t manage to get any sleep for two or three days. Therefore, I decided to quit I Ribelli in 1970, though with a heavy heart. There was simply no way of combining the two activities.”

At the piano with Rita Pavone (c. 1969)

Belonging to a new generation of Italian record arrangers, who were no autodidacts, but musicians with a conservatory background, Natale Massara enjoyed success practically from the start of his ‘new’ career. At the request of Dischi Ricordi, for whom he was a staff arranger for twelve years (1968-80), he initially mainly worked with the label’s groups, such as Dik Dik and Equipe 84, but progressively with solo singers as well, including the likes of Wilma Goich, Roberto Soffici, Mina, and even his old comrade Adriano Celentano. After having arranged Rita Pavone’s hit single ‘Per tutta la vita’ (1969), Massara was her musical director on a world tour which took them to as far away as Israel, Brazil, and the United States. In 1969, Massara also made his debut as a conductor at the San Remo Festival, leading the orchestra for three participating acts: Wilma Goich (‘Baci, baci, baci’), Tony Del Monaco (‘Un’ora fa’) and Dik Dik (‘Zucchero’).

“Of course, I was nervous to conduct on stage in San Remo,” Massara admits, smiling. “First, there was the emotion of being allowed to conduct on such a podium, which was reinforced by the nontecnologia – this was an era without metronomes or other technical devices to help out. Everything was played live, and any little miscommunication between the orchestra and the performing artist could prove fatal, and it was my responsibility!"

"Moreover, there was much less time to rehearse the songs than nowadays. In San Remo, today, the orchestra starts preparing a month in advance, but back then we were given one hour in a studio in Milan in the week preceding the festival and then one more hour in San Remo on the day before the contest began. That was it. Basta! In a technical sense, conducting an orchestra for a pop song isn't very complicated, as most of them are played in one tempo. Still, it was important to create a rich orchestral sound which wouldn’t fall flat in the hall or on television. When the orchestra sounded well, it was because there had been an arranger at work who knew how to write for a live orchestra, which isn't necessarily the same as in a studio, where sound engineers were on hand to help.”

Conducting the orchestra in the 1970 San Remo Festival

In total, between 1969 and 1977, Natale Massara conducted the orchestra in seven editions of the San Remo Festival, accompanying – apart from the artists mentioned in the above – Antoine, Donatello, Milva, Wess & Dori Ghezzi, and Rettore. His best result came in 1973, when Milva placed third with ‘Da troppo tempo’, which enjoyed subsequent success in the charts as well. Apart from San Remo, Massara took part in many more Italian music festivals, winning the Golden Gondola with Mia Martini (‘Donna sola’) in 1973 and Canzonissima with Wess & Dori Ghezzi in 1974 (‘Un corpo e un’anima’). 

Mia Martini was one of the artists with whom Massara worked most extensively in the 1970s, arranging five of her albums and creating the orchestrations behind some of her most popular songs, including ‘Minuetto’, ‘Inno’, and ‘Vola’. In 1975, he conducted her performance of ‘Nevicate’ at the 1975 Majorca Song Festival in Spain.

“That was a proud moment, because ‘Nevicate’ was a song composed by myself – and it was awarded with the first prize by a professional jury which contained some of the biggest beasts of international music… Henry Mancini, Waldo de los Rios, Astor Piazzolla; if I’m not mistaken, Franck Pourcel was there as well. To be picked by a such a high-profile jury was a major accolade."

Conducting the orchestra for Mia Martini’s winning performance at the 1973 Golden Gondola Festival in Venice

"For some years in the mid-1970s, I wrote practically all arrangements for Mia, who was signed by Dischi Ricordi in 1972. It was a pleasure and honour working with such a huge talent and stage personality. She was easy to work with, always affable and open to my advice and suggestions. Like Mina, who I also worked with a lot around that same time, her success was largely restricted to the Italian market – for some reason, she didn’t manage to build a career abroad. Perhaps, her style was too Italian to appeal to an international audience. Her voice was unique. Had she lived today, she would probably have been considered amongst the very greatest of Italian artists every to have lived, along with Mina – who is by far the country’s most popular female singer. Unfortunately, that was not to be.”

In 1972, Massara made his debut as a film composer, writing the score to Treasure Island, an international co-production starring Orson Welles in the role of Long John Silver. 

“I was only 29 years old at the time, but Federico Monti Arduini, the general manager of Dischi Ricordi, believed in me – and when he was commissioned to find a composer to write the music to this film, he turned to me. Earlier that same year, I had helped out Maurizio Vandelli, one of the guys of Equipe 84, when he had accepted to write the score to an Italian film and had no idea how even to begin. In the closing credits, my name was mentioned as the film’s conductor only, but in fact I had written about half of the music and arranged everything. During the recording of that film in Rome, I had the opportunity to work with experienced people in the film business who showed me how things were done.”

Milva being introduced to the audience at St Mark's square by the evening's hostess, with Natale Massara taking his place in front of the orchestra - Golden Gondola Festival, Venice (c. 1974)

“Only months later, Treasure Island came my way – and I had the chance to prove that I could manage independently. The music was recorded with the Scala Theatre Orchestra. In those days, everything was played live to a video of the movie being played in the studio. This work required far more conducting technique from me than entertainment music did, because these eighty-odd musicians had to follow my lead and the tempo had to be exactly right. If I messed up, we had to start all over again; and of course, we had to finish the recording within a fixed time frame. This led to tiny imperfections finding their way to the recording, but on the other hand, it brought with it the possibility to convey emotions while performing the music score.”

In 1976, Natale Massara wrote the arrangements to ‘Certe volte…’, a solo album by Pino Donaggio, his former fellow-student at the Verdi Conservatoire in Milan. By that time, songwriting was only a side-product for Donaggio, who had taken up film composing in the early 1970s as well. In fact, in that same year 1976, Donaggio called on Massara to arrange and conduct his score to Brian De Palma’s movie Carrie.

“At some point, Pino contacted me, explaining that Brian De Palma had called him to write the music to Carrie, a Hollywood horror film. Originally, the score was due to be provided by the great Bernard Herrmann, but he had died unexpectedly. Thereupon, De Palma turned to this fledgling young composer from Italy. Pino wondered if I could help him again – we had just completed our first film together, Un sussurro nel buio. Pino was an excellent violinist, but he had no background in orchestration and needed someone at his side. Brian De Palma was lucky to find such a talented replacement as Pino; and perhaps Pino was also lucky to find me! These are opportunities that don’t come along more often than once or twice in anybody’s lifetime."

"At any rate, Carrie was a huge box-office hit. It cemented Pino’s reputation as an excellent composer for horrors and thrillers for years to come. Not only Brian De Palma, but other US film directors called on him to score their films. Pino literally wrote dozens of scores for the American market – and I was happy to follow him. From that moment on, I conducted practically all of his films.”

Conducting the orchestra for Adriano Celentano (c. 1977)

Other Donaggio movie scores arranged and conducted by Natale Massara in the early stages of their partnership, include Dressed To Kill (1980), The Howling (1981) and Blow Out (1981). In the second half of the 1970s, Natale Massara continued to work as an arranger and producer for some of Italy’s most high-profile entertainment singers, including Gianna Nannini and Milva. In 1980, preferring to work as a freelance arranger, he left the Dischi Ricordi company.

“From the beginning of my contract with Ricordi, I had had the best of working relationships with artistic director Lucio Salvini, who allowed me to team up with artists from other record labels once and again, although I had an exclusivity contract with him. Wess & Dori Ghezzi, for example, were under contract with Durium – and I wrote their arrangements for quite some years. I even recorded a single with Julio Iglesias on the Ariston label. However, I had to turn down many commissions from some of the best producers and artists. Towards the end of the 1970s, when Milva had left Ricordi in favour of the German branch of Metronome, there was not much point in my staying much longer either. She was by far the artist I worked with most extensively in those years. She wanted to continue working with me, but there was no possibility to keep the ties as close as we both wanted them to remain unless I quit Ricordi – and so that’s what I did.”

Milva and Natale Massara worked together for nearly thirty years. In the shadow of Milva, who became more and more popular across Europe, Massara managed to spread his wings beyond the borders of Italy as well.

Accompanying Milva off stage in Vienna (1981)

“Our collaboration really took off in the early 1970s, when we participated in the San Remo Festival twice. Slowly, she managed to conquer the European market, recording LPs in French and German. Thanks to her work for Metronome, my name became known outside of Italy – and as her albums sold so well, German producers showed interest in teaming up with me as well. I wrote arrangements for Freddy Quinn and Herbert Grönemeyer. In France, I even got to work with Charles Aznavour! As for Milva, of course her ability to sing in other languages than Italian helped her to build an international career. Furthermore, she was incredibly versatile. Pop, classical music, jazz... In Germany, she impressed audiences by singing Bertolt Brecht. In Austria, I conducted her for a month in the Theater an der Wien, where she did a show with Robert Stolz’s repertoire. She could do anything – and she did it with an amazing professionality.”

Adorned with gold records in Germany, France, and Greece, Milva managed one step further, impressing audiences in faraway Japan. “Milva had gold records in Germany, but also in France and Greece. Even the Japanese wanted her to come over to do concerts. I conducted the orchestra in several of her world tours in the 1980s. Each time, I had to bring my studio work to a standstill for several months, which made it easier to slowly move away from arranging pop records. We are speaking of the 1980s now, an era in which most of the music for a recording was done in preproduction, with the arranger’s role diminished to adding little flavours here and there; and frankly, I have always preferred working completely live – which is why I began to prefer concerts to the recording studio. As is only natural when embarking on tours which last for months on end, the reciprocal respect Milva and I had for each other developed into a wonderful friendship. At one point, she was the only recording artist I continued working with. The last record I did with her was in 1997.”

By the mid-1980s, orchestrating and conducting movie pictures had become Natale Massara’s main professional activity. Apart from continuing his fruitful partnership with Pino Donaggio – who alone in the 1980s wrote the music to some fifty films – he also occasionally found the time to compose his own film music for Italian productions, which include Da grande (1987), La cintura (1989), and Graffiante desiderio (1993). In 1988, a very special project came along, when Massara was commissioned to re-arrange the music to the 1960s film classic La ciociara (Running Away); the original movie was reworked into a television miniseries, in which Sophia Loren once again played the main part. The invitation to work on the remake came from the legendary composer of the original, Armando Trovajoli.

Milva's back-up band backstage in Berlin during a tour across Germany in 1988, from left to right - Gigi Cappellotto (bass), Danilo Riccardi (keys), Flaviano Cuffari (drums), Alberto Mompellio (keys), Claudio Bazzari (guitar), and Natale Massara (piano, musical director)

“When I received the telephone call from Trovajoli, one of the biggest composers in international cinema, I was astonished. He was a musician I admired. Years previously, I had been introduced to him at a festival in Venice, and we had exchanged some niceties, but that was it. Now, it turned out he was impressed by my orchestrations for Donaggio – and wondered if I could help him out. He had been asked to rearrange the music to ‘La ciociara’, but he lacked the ideas to do it; he couldn’t manage to empathise with the main characters’ emotions the way he did when he wrote the original."

"For a week, I was a guest in Trovajoli’s house in Rome, and we started out by subdividing the arranging work; but in the end, I did some 40 titles and he did two or three. For that reason, he agreed to include my name in the credits as the only orchestrator of the series. When we were in the studio recording the score, director Dino Risi was there too. Risi complimented Armando on his work, but he pointed straight at me, saying that I had written virtually everything. He was gracious and grateful. In all, working with Armando Trovajoli was one of the most emotional experiences in my life.”

For television, Natale Massara composed the music to several miniseries including Il coraggio di Anna (1992), Delitti privati (1993), and La memoria e il perdono (2001), working with directors Giorgio Capitani and Sergio Martino. He also wrote the scores to 65 sequels of Secrets, a soap opera aired on RAI2 in 1993; as well as countless jingles and melodies for TV commercials. He was the musical director for two RAI2 entertainment shows, Il cappello sulle ventitrè (1983-86) and Dudù dudù (1990), the last of which was hosted by Pino Caruso and Claudia Mori.

“When taking on the job of conductor of a television show, one never knows where the work will end. There are always many songs to write arrangements to, sketches, musical intervals, but it was rewarding to work among friends like Claudia Mori – who is married to Adriano Celentano. Weekly shows like these usually ran for several months – and it was impossible to take on any other work in the meantime. For instance, at the time when I did ‘Dudù dudù’, I had to turn down doing a new San Remo Festival with Milva, who was ‘my’ artist, so to speak. Instead, Vince Tempera arranged and conducted the entry for her, a song called ‘Sono felice’ (in 1990 - BT). It was a good song, and I was quite unhappy not be there on that stage with her.”

At the piano with Claudia Mori in the RAI2 television show ‘Dudù dudù’ (1990)

Apart from his work for cinema and television, Massara also composed and arranged the music to two animated films for children as well as music for various theatre shows. In 1996, he conducted a memorable concert series in Belgium with the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège with a programme of film music. The concert was recorded and broadcast by television stations across Europe.

“Three years before, Milva had been invited by the Philharmonic Orchestra in Liège to do a honorary concert for Thanos Microutsicos. Microutsicos is a Greek composer. It was the first-time ever this orchestra played a non-classical genre. During the rehearsal of the Milva concert, I was approached by the orchestra’s artistic director, who explained that they were planning a concert to mark a century of film. Having taken a look at my curriculum, he thought I was the perfect candidate to conduct it. In those days, doing film music wasn’t something classical orchestras engaged in regularly. I orchestrated five medleys of the best film music, ranging from John Williams to Vangelis, Max Steiner to Nino Rota. Because the original scores were not available, I transcribed and orchestrated all music myself. It took me some three years of preparation, but the result was something I am still very happy with, also because it set a trend – nowadays, classical orchestras do film music concerts all the time.”

Continuing to work in close partnership with Pino Donaggio until today, Natale Massara has meanwhile orchestrated and conducted the scores to some two-hundred films. Some of the more recent titles include Trauma (1993), Do You Like Hitchcock (2005), both by director Dario Argento, and Passion, which was directed by Brian De Palma (2012).

Pino Donaggio and Natale Massara together in the studio, recording the score to ‘Der Mann nebenan’, a 1991 German horror movie starring Anthony Perkins

Asked about the reasons for Pino Donaggio’s enduring success as a film composer, Massara reflects, “Well, his main quality is melody! There are few who are better at writing signature tunes. Once you have three or four main themes, these can be put to use at various moments in a movie in different arrangements. It has been a privilege working with such a talent. My approach has not changed that much. I still write everything by hand without using a computer. Of course, some things have changed. In the early years, Pino would come down to my house in Milan regularly and we put together a film score little by little, whilst the sheer workload of several films a year which we faced from the early 1980s onwards unfortunately meant that such a craftsmanlike, somewhat unrushed approach was no longer possible.”

“As is only logical after four decades of working together, the mutual trust we feel is immense... and you know what the most special thing is? In the American film industry, all these famous composers like John Williams and Hans Zimmer have at least five or six orchestrators – for some films even more than a dozen – who turn their compositions in full orchestral scores. They are like workers in an old-fashioned car factory, each standing at fixed stations at an assembly line to add one little element to the car. In my case, however, I have always been Pino’s sole arranger, whom he entrusted with adding all orchestral colours to his compositions. We have become a binomio, an inseparable duo; and excellent friends to this day.”

Apart from his work with Donaggio, Natale Massara has continued working as a film composer independently, writing the score to Il generale dalla chiesa (2007) and other TV films. Today, he is the president of the Cassa Nazionale di Assistenza Compositori-Autori-Librettisti di Musica Popolare, an organisation dedicated to providing social security to music writers of entertainment music. In 2019, at the Canto Italiano gala in Milan, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award by the Italian Union of Composers, Librettists, and Lyricists (UNCLA); the honour of handing out the prize was bestowed on none other than Pino Donaggio.

Receiving the UNCLA lifetime achievement award from the hands of Pino Donaggio (2019)

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

When Natale Massara conducted the Eurovision orchestra in 1975 for Wess Johnson & Dori Ghezzi, it was not by any means the first time he worked with these artists. In fact, already in 1970, he had written the arrangements to ‘Io t’amerò fino all’ultimo mondo’, Wess’ cover version of a Gilbert Bécaud song. Before his forming a duo with Dori Ghezzi, USA-born Wess Johnson specialised in rhythm & blues and soul repertoire with his backing group, The Airedales. After some of his songs were picked up by two Italian disk jockeys in 1966, Wess and his band decided to try their luck in Italy, roaming the country’s live venues. Later on, having settled down with his family in Rome, Wess also tried his hand at more traditional Italian pop repertoire under the guidance of producer Felice Piccarreda.

“Wess was under contract at the Durium label,” Natale Massara adds, “and while I was an arranger and conductor for another company, Dischi Ricordi, his producer asked me if I was interested to write arrangements for him. In fact, in those years, other companies were often interested to hire me for their productions. Whenever I received such an offer, I turned to Lucio Salvini, Ricordi’s director – and, fortunately, he allowed me quite some freedom in spite of my exclusive contract with him, also in this case. That was the start of my collaboration with Wess."

"When the duo with Dori Ghezzi was formed, which must have been in 1972, I continued writing most of their arrangements. Bringing together Wess and Dori was Felice Piccarreda’s idea. It wasn’t that they weren’t doing well in their solo careers, but it seemed an interesting experiment to form a duo of this giant black guy with a fragile blond girl. With the exception of Al Bano and Romina Power, there weren’t any mixed duos in Italian popular music. While Wess and Dori both were excellent singers in their own right, their voices blended well too. In 1973, they took part in the San Remo Festival with ‘Tu nella mia vita’, a song arranged and conducted by me, which was the real starting point of their fame as a duo.”

With the first success, inevitably, Italian media started digging into Wess and Dori’s private lives, curious to find information about theirs perhaps also being a couple off stage. 

“But I can assure there was nothing there,” Massara assures. “Wess had his own family and Dori later formed a couple with Fabrizio De André (a Genovese singer-songwriter – BT). No, they were just two wonderful music professional who got along well with each other. There was never any rivalry, any nagging about the one being allowed more soli than the other. Given that writing the vocal arrangements also came down to me, this is perhaps also something I deserve some credit for. More importantly, though, the majority of their repertoire was written especially for them – with lyrics suitable for a male-female duo.”

Wess & Dori Ghezzi around the time of their first San Remo participation in 1973

In 1974, participating in another music festival, Canzonissima, Wess & Dori Ghezzi walked away as winners in the light entertainment category with a song co-composed by Umberto Tozzi, ‘Un corpo e un’anima’, which was the duo’s biggest chart success in Italy. The song also paved their way to qualification for the Eurovision Song Contest. 

“Back then, Canzonissima was even more important than San Remo,” Massara explains. “In fact, San Remo was suffering from a lack of popularity for some time in the mid-1970s. Canzonissima was a televised contest which lasted for months, usually between October and January. Following their good showing in San Remo the previous year, it was a given thing that Wess and Dori would try their luck in Canzonissima as well. Doing well at Canzonissima was almost a guarantee for good selling figures – and ‘Un corpo e un’anima’ sold incredibly well. In those years, whoever won Canzonissima was entitled to representing Italy in the Eurofestival, but with another song. Doing Eurovision was an honour; a rare opportunity to take part in a huge international event.”

Once Wess & Dori Ghezzi had received the official invitation to represent Italy’s broadcaster RAI at that year’s Eurovision Song Contest final in Stockholm, the duo recorded a set of songs in Durium’s recording studio in Milan, from which those at RAI responsible for Italy’s Eurovision participation picked ‘Era’, composed by Shel Shapiro with lyrics by Andrea Lo Vecchio, two important names in Italy’s music industry. Prior to writing the arrangement to the song, Natale Massara had a meeting with the two authors to listen to their ideas.

“I met them at Durium. Shel and Andrea had written the song specifically with Wess and Dori in mind – and together we discussed the vocal arrangement. Shel, who was a music producer in his own right, had specific ideas for the orchestration as well, which he had included on the demo recording. This explains why he was mentioned as co-arranger on the single release – a credit he fully deserved. I don’t remember if the organ intro was his idea or mine. I don’t know if ‘Era’ is the best song in Wess and Dori’s repertoire, but it certainly ranks among their most notable recordings. Why? Look, ‘Era’ wasn’t really a canzone. The style wasn’t particularly Italian, quite contrary to their other previous chart successes. Those were melodies, while ‘Era’, in its approach, was much more rhythmical. These were the days of ABBA; and the world of music was changing. ‘Era’ is a song which reflects this development. The sound was international rather than Italian. In this light, one can understand why RAI picked it to be their entry from amongst all song material which was submitted on behalf of Wess and Dori.”


In keeping with his approach to San Remo entries, for which he made sure to adapt the orchestration in such a way as to create a richer sound, Natale Massara did not simply use his studio arrangement for the international festival final. 

“In this case, I needn’t really have bothered, because the sound engineers in Sweden and their equipment were so much more advanced than what we were used to in Italy. I am not an esterofilo, a xenophile, in any way, but they were really miles ahead of us. In San Remo, an orchestration which was a little subtle wouldn’t come across well on television – but in any case, for ‘Era’, I basically enlarged the arrangement by adding additional instrument in each section. The orchestra at our disposal in Sweden consisted of more elements than the one with which we had recorded the song in Milan.”

“Another thing which we weren’t used to in Italy… the orchestration had to be submitted to the organisation in Stockholm several weeks before the contest was due. In San Remo, the orchestra didn’t start rehearsing until a week in advance, but in Stockholm, the pre-production was superb. When I arrived, the orchestra had already rehearsed the song to the smallest detail, including additional comments I had added to the score as to how exactly I wanted the guitar and drums to sound. I was given two or three rehearsals in Sweden, but the hard work had already been done for me. The orchestra was very good, and because Wess and Dori were professional singers, our rehearsals were flawless.”

Strikingly, Natale Massara was not the only Italian conductor to take part in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest. Malta’s entry ‘Singing This Song’ by Renato Micallef, which had been recorded in Italy, was conducted by Vince Tempera. In a funny coincidence, Tempera and Massara had co-arranged Wess and Dori’s latest album release, which bore the name of their Canzonissima track: ‘Un corpo e un’anima’. Though Tempera was a close colleague, Massara did not see much of him in Stockholm.

“Malta’s delegation was in another hotel in a different part of the town. In those days, there were no mobile phones. We were in different delegations living in different worlds, so to speak. The rehearsing schedule didn’t allow us to cross each other either. We cannot have met more than just two or three times that week – in fact it might have been just for the general rehearsal and the concert on Saturday evening!”

In between Eurovision rehearsals: Natale Massara enjoying some leisure time in downtown Stockholm (1975)

Though Eurovision 1975 took place in the fourth week of March – springtime, at least on paper –, winter was still very much present in the city of Stockholm. What were Natale Massara’s impressions? 

“I had never been to Scandinavia before, and though I was travelling for what essentially was work, I was keen to discover as much of Stockholm as I could during our free hours. All waterways around the city centre were frozen, an unusual sight for us Italians. We were all dressed up warmly in fur coats, which were fashionable for men as well as for women back then! The Italian delegation was quite large, as it consisted of officials of RAI and the Durium record company. We were a happy bunch and went into town several times as a group. I remember Silvio Noto was there as the commentator for Italian television – a famous name, but someone who I hadn’t met previously. It was nice to fraternise with him and others."

"One evening, our entire group ended up in a nightclub, attending a peepshow. Thinking back of it, the performance we saw there was rather innocent, something which would make a three-year-old child laugh nowadays; but it was a show the like of which in Italy would have caused a scandal in the 1970s. It was very obvious that in more than one way, Sweden was a much more liberal country than Italy.”

“Please allow me to share with you one other memory of Stockholm!,” Massara adds with a broad smile. “Probably my best memory of that festival! Like many other musicians of my generation, I was a huge fan of The Shadows. In fact, I even went to a concert by Cliff Richard and The Shadows in L’Olympia in Paris, which must have been back in 1961 or 1962. They were a huge inspiration to me and my fellow-bandmembers in I Ribelli; and all those years later, there I found myself, at one of the rehearsals of the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, sharing a dressing room with them! They were there to represent the United Kingdom. As the venue wasn’t big enough to allow everyone a separate dressing room, the organisation had put some participants from different countries together. In this room, there were just The Shadows and me. Incredible! Of course, I told them how I had idolised them fifteen years before. They took the time to have a chat with me, which was really nice.”

Picture taken from the press folder provided by the Italian delegation in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest

In the end, ‘Era’ was awarded with 115 votes, finishing in a respectable third place behind Teach-In from the Netherlands and the runners up… The Shadows. Were the Italians happy with the result?

“Oh yes, very much so! After having listened to all songs in general rehearsal, we agreed that there were some really good entries, but at the same time we started believing in our own chances. We were expecting to do well, perhaps even to win; and thinking of that possibility made us quite nervous, myself included – even more so because we were drawn last and had to wait for nearly two hours before we could finally perform. How would the audience respond after having already heard some good songs? After coming off stage, everyone in our little corner backstage was happy with the performance; the Durium officials, the four backing singers. When the votes started rolling in, the atmosphere got even better. In fact, we were getting into the spirit, cheering with every high mark which came our way, “Vai, vai, ce la faremo! Vinciamo!”, as if we were at a sports event. In the end, we didn’t win, but we had done ourselves proud. After the voting was over, champagne bottles were uncorked and we had a ball!”

In terms of record sales, ‘Era’ did quite well in Italy, but in several other European countries too – even climbing to sixth place in the charts in Switzerland and third in Norway. In spite of that, Wess & Dori Ghezzi continued to have a career which was first and foremost built on success in Italy. One year after the Eurovision Song Contest, they tried their luck again in the San Remo Festival, finishing second with ‘Come stai, con chi sei’, a song again arranged by Natale Massara – but not conducted, because all entries in the 1976 San Remo Festival were performed without live orchestral accompaniment.

“Their success continued for one or two years after Eurovision, but at some point, public interest began to dwindle. Their style of duets had gone out of fashion; and after a while, they broke up. Dori gave up singing altogether, but Wess continued as a solo artist for many years. In fact, when his longtime producer Felice Piccarreda left Durium, I was asked to take over – and I worked with him as an arranger and producer until the early 1980s. I distinctly remember recording a vocal version of the main theme of Pino Donaggio’s film Carrie with him. Wess and I were good friends. When he came down from where he was living in Rome to do studio work in Milan, we also hung out with each other privately. At one point, I practically gave up working as a record arranger and our ways parted. He continued performing with his band in the oldies circuit in Italy. In his native America, he performed for the Italian communities there. In fact, he died while he was touring in the United States (in 2009 – BT).”

"I did Eurovision just once, but it's one of the proudest moments in my career. And I am glad that I was involved in Eurovision and San Remo back in the day when everything was done completely live. In San Remo, for some years, there was no orchestral accompaniment at all (in 1976 and again from 1980 to 1989 – BT), and it was a tristezza assoluta – a very sad sight to behold. Later, when the orchestra returned to the competition, it got better, but the situation today is different from the 1970s."

"Nowadays, in San Remo, not only the conductor, but all musicians in the orchestra are wearing headphones which allow them to hear the click track, indicating the tempi by means of a metronome. They are simply playing what is already in their headphones. In such a situation, a conductor is superfluous – he is just there as a show element. A click robs an orchestral performance of any element of emotion or spontaneity; while intended to root out tiny imperfections in a performance, it has ruined music itself. I am dismayed to hear from you that there has been no orchestra in the Eurovision Song Contest for over twenty years now – that is very poor. A song festival without an orchestra, musically speaking, is the Third World. Punto. Basta!


OTHER ARTISTS ABOUT NATALE MASSARA

So far, we have not gathered comments of other artists about Natale Massara.

EUROVISION INVOLVEMENT YEAR BY YEAR

Country – Italy
Song title – "Era"
Rendition – Wess Johnson & Dori Ghezzi
Lyrics – Andrea Lo Vecchio
Composition – Shel Shapiro
Studio arrangement – Shel Shapiro / Natale Massara
Live orchestration – Natale Massara
Conductor – Natale Massara
Score – 3rd place (115 votes)


SOURCES & LINKS
  • Bas Tukker did an interview with Natale Massara, March 2020
  • Photos courtesy of Natale Massara & Ferry van der Zant
  • An extensive interview with Natale Massara in Italian, which mainly focuses on his activities as a film orchestrator and conductor, can be found by following this link
WEBSITE

ANDRÉ POPP

The following article is an overview of the career of French composer and arranger André Popp. The main source of information is an interview with Mr Popp, conducted by Bas Tukker in Puteaux, Greater Paris, January 2013. The article below is subdivided into two main parts; a general career overview (part 3) and a part dedicated to André Popp's Eurovision involvement (part 4).

All material below: © Bas Tukker / 2013


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

Born: February 19th, 1924, Fontenay-le-Comte (France)
Died: May 10th, 2014, Puteaux (Greater Paris) (France)
Nationality: French

SHORT EUROVISION RECORD

In 1960, André Popp composed the winning Eurovision entry ‘Tom Pillibi’ for France, while he also was responsible for writing the music to ‘Le chant de Mallory’ (Rachel Ros, France 1964) and the iconic ‘L’amour est bleu’ (Vicky Leandros, Luxembourg 1967). Popp’s last participation - and the only one of his four Eurovision efforts conducted by himself - came in 1975, with ‘Une chanson c’est une lettre’, performed by Sophie Hecquet, who took part for Monaco.

BIOGRAPHY

André Charles Jean Popp hails from the Vendée region in Western France. His father died when André was just five years of age, upon which his mother went back to live with her parents. “My mother had a tough life,” Popp comments. “She lost all three of her husbands as well as a baby daughter. I grew up in my grandparents’ villa in Fontenay. My grandfather was quite well-educated and took me for walks in the countryside, teaching me names of plants and the like… but nothing about music! It was my mother who sent me to a piano teacher. I was only five years old at that time."

"Looking back on it, this woman, to whom I was entrusted, was a hopeless teacher who failed to help me acquiring any playing techniques. Technically speaking, I have never become an able pianist. She deserves being credited, however, for teaching me right away how to sight-read music scores. This proved an immense help later onwards in my life. Meanwhile, I practiced at an old piano which had been in my grandparents’ house for ages, but merely for decorative purposes and for the odd birthday party to enjoy a sing-along. At this piano, I did not only practice the obligatory lessons, but also invented entire radio broadcasts with spoken introductions… spoken by myself! I was entirely absorbed by music.”

As a secondary student, André was educated at the Saint-Joseph Institute, which was right across the street where his grandparents lived. “The school was led by priests. As a student, I was no more than average. I lacked the ambition to spend much energy on anything else than music. Oddly, the German invasion of France in 1940 more or less heralded the start of my musician’s career! The priest who played the harmonium during the masses in our school’s chapel was called up for army duty. Everyone knew that I played the piano and, therefore, the headmaster wondered if I could fill the gap! At that point, I knew nothing of religious music. I had to master playing in Gregorian style all by myself, but, one way or another, I managed."

Young André being confirmed into the church, c. 1935

"The best thing about this unexpected situation was that I could practice in the chapel for as long as I wanted. Whenever I had the opportunity, I played the works of modern classical composers I was passionate about, such as Ravel, Vierne, Langlais, and Messiaen. On that harmonium, I also did my first improvisations; of course, all of this happened without any audience, just for my own amusement in between lessons or on Saturdays. At home, the ground floor had been requisitioned by German soldiers and our family had had to move upstairs. Fortunately, I was allowed to continue using the piano which was in a tiny room downstairs. Four of my friends regularly came there to improvise. They all played different instruments and we formed a little orchestra playing jazz and light entertainment music – just to have a good time.”

In 1944, André obtained his secondary school diploma. Meanwhile, he had met a young musician called Jean Broussolle (1920-84). “Jean was a songwriter and singer. Later onwards, he joined Les Compagnons de la Chanson. During the war, he had been in the FFI, the French resistance. He came to Fontenay in the last year of the occupation to hide from German authorities, who were looking for him. In retrospect, meeting Jean was hugely important; he was an exceptional guy who played the violin, trumpet, and trombone. He had been to Paris and knew what the music métier was about - well, surely more than I did! Jean awakened the latent desire in me to go to Paris and to make it as a musician. I badly wanted to get away from Fontenay… live my own life and be free. No, my family did not discourage me concerning my vocation."

"In November 1944, a couple of months after the Germans had been kicked out, we decided the time was ripe to go to Paris. Train services had not been put back into business yet, which left us little other option than hitch-hiking. We were taken along by a lorry driver, arriving in Paris very late at night. We were due to stay with friends of Jean’s, but the bistro where we were due to meet had already closed for the night! This left us no other option but to rent a room in a… hôtel de putes, a prostitutes’ hotel. That was my first night in Paris! The day after, we met Jean’s friend. He was able to arrange a cramped three-room apartment without heating for the three of us; Jean, Jean’s wife, and myself. We lived there for some three years. Meanwhile, Jean and I performed here and there, with him singing and me accompanying him at the piano.”


In those years immediately after the war, Broussolle and Popp wrote many songs together. Their first success came when avant-garde singer Cathérine Sauvage picked up their creation ‘Grand papa laboureur’, which was a minor hit. But Popp did more than just songwriting.

“Some time in 1947, I met Raoul Breton, one of France’s main music editors. He signed me as a pianist. I played compositions which had been submitted by songwriters to Breton. It was up to me to play the sheet music for artists who visited his bureau looking for repertoire. My ability to sight-read music served me well! I met many stars in Breton’s premises; Charles Trenet, for example, but also a young lady from Dottignies in Belgium who aspired to being a singer, Marie-Jeanne Morel. We fell in love and got married, staying together for 45 years. Unfortunately, she died quite young…"

"Another person I met thanks to Raoul Breton was Louis Ducreux, who hired me as a pianist for his radio programme Le journal officieux. Louis, who did not read music notes, also asked me to finish his chanson ideas and write arrangements for the little band which accompanied the radio show. Breton also introduced me to Jacques Canetti, the artistic director of record company Philips. He also owned a theatre near Place Pigalle, Les Trois Baudets, where revues were staged and all young singers of his record label performed. I worked as a piano-accompanist at Les Trois Baudets for some four years.”

With his Belgian wife Marie-Jeanne Morel (c. 1954)

In 1949, Popp was given the opportunity to do more radio work thanks to another connection of Raoul Breton’s, poet Jean Tardieu. Tardieu, who worked as a producer at the Parisian branch of French radio (ORTF), had a keen eye for young talent and asked Popp to write some instrumental pieces. 

“Among other things, I wrote some opera parodies and was allowed to conduct the radio orchestra for my own compositions! How I knew how to arrange and conduct? Well, in a stroke of immodesty, I would say that I was extremely talented! I took my inspiration from composers and orchestra leaders from the generation before me, such as Jean Wiéner and Roger Roger. I also carefully studied a textbook about the registers of all classical instruments. Discounting the teacher in my childhood days and some lessons I followed with Olivier Messiaen later onwards in Paris, I am an autodidact. Tardieu gave me my own radio show at local Parisian station, Chansons pour demain, for which I was given a combo of four musicians. We accompanied popular singers such as Georges Brassens. In 1952, I wrote the music to a Christmas variety show called On a volé le Père Noël, which was immensely successful and drew the attention of producers of nationwide radio.”

As a result, in 1953, Popp was offered the job of producer and conductor of his own primetime Saturday night radio show, La bride sur le cou. He worked on this émission vedette of ORTF for five years. “This was a weekly one-hour-programme with a big orchestra, initially consisting of 20 players and later even of 32. After a while, it was held with an audience present in the auditorium. For each broadcast, half an hour of original instrumental compositions were required. I composed every single note myself, meaning that I built up an immense repertoire. With such a large number of musicians available, I could experiment in writing complicated scores as much as I wanted! Though many of the musicians in my radio orchestra were prize-winning graduates of classical conservatoires, they often had to cling onto their chairs while playing my demanding arrangements!"

Conducting the orchestra of ‘La bride sur le cou’, 1954

"In 1958, ORTF tried to transfer the successful radio programme to television, but it failed miserably and no more than two broadcasts were made. That was the end of La bride sur le cou. One of the nicest things which resulted from my radio work was an exchange programme with West German radio, thanks to which I was invited over to work with orchestras in Stuttgart and Munich.”

For nationwide radio, Popp also composed music for other programmes, most notably the radio play Les maîtres du mystère, which ran for 22 years in France as well as in the French Overseas Departments (1952-74), while it was also broadcast in over 20 other countries. Some of Popp’s compositions for La bride sur le cou were adopted as signature tunes for radio and television programmes, such as La tête et les jambes and Les chiffres et les lettres. Later onwards, he composed the music to the first series of Babar (1969) as well as to other televised feuilletons, including Pont dormant (1972) and La folie des bêtes (1974). In 1988, Popp composed the first theme tune of the popular game show Question pour un champion.

All the while, Popp continued composing songs for an increasing number of artists, especially after the clamorous international success of ‘Les lavandières du Portugal – Portuguese Washerwomen’ in 1955. 

Picture postcard, second half 1950s

“In general, writing the music to a song did not take me much time, though there were some exceptions to that rule. In most cases, I wrote the music first before calling on the help of a lyric writer. Over the years, I teamed up with many different lyricists. In the case of ‘Les lavandières’, the words were added by Roger Lucchesi, a Corsican who I had met in Paris. The song was recorded by Suzy Delair, but she did not do a great job on it and nothing much happened with it. Now, Lucchesi, who, like all Corsicans, tried trading everything to anyone, offered the song to Jacqueline François; or, more accurately, she picked the song from a bunch of our creations. Her version conquered France and several foreign countries, upon which the song made le tour du monde.” 

Popp’s ‘Portuguese Washerwomen’ did especially well in the USA. It was covered by tens of vocalists and instrumentalists around the world, including Astrud Gilberto, Joe Carr, Franck Pourcel, Michel Legrand, Alain Goraguer, and even Dizzy Gillespie. In the 1950s, Popp also wrote material for the likes of Maurice Chevalier, Jacques Fabbri, and Michèle Arnaud, while his songs ‘La pendule’ for Les Frères Jacques (1955) and ‘De pantin à Pekin’ for Juliette Gréco (1959) enjoyed popularity in France.

In 1956, when Popp’s engagement at the Trois Baudets theatre expired, its manager, Jacques Canetti, who also owned the Philips and Fontana record labels, offered him a new contract as an arranger and conductor for studio recordings. Together with another fledgling musician, Michel Legrand, Popp was Philips' most prolific arranger in the second half of the 1950s. Artists he worked with extensively as an orchestrator include Juliette Gréco, Jean-Claude Darnal, Henri Decker, Mouloudji, and Henri Salvador. Moreover, he arranged some of the best-known songs of poet-singer Boris Vian, most notably ‘La java des bombes atomiques’ (1956). Popp also helped young and coming Jacques Brel on his way by arranging his first albums and EPs, which included songs as ‘Quand on n’a que l’amour’ (1956), ‘L’air de la bêtise’ (1957), and ‘Dors ma mie’ (1960). When Popp left the Philips record company, another young arranger, François Rauber, took over scoring Brel’s work.

In a recording session with Juliette Gréco (c. 1959)

In the 1950s, Popp’s output as a composer was well-nigh incredible. Apart from his radio and studio work, he came up with the idea of writing an educative symphonic work for children, explaining the instruments in a classical orchestra. The lyrics were written by Popp’s old friend Jean Broussolle. The first of the four ‘Piccolo, Saxo et Compagnie’ albums, released in 1956, won the Grand Prix du Disque. 

“Jacques Canetti gave me carte blanche to work on this idea of mine,” Popp recalls. “I did not just want to tell children about the instruments; I wanted the instruments to be characters. Creating these characters in music was great. Our Good Lord must have been truly inspired that day! I could not sleep until I had finished this work. When I turned to Canetti, he said, "Listen Popp, this is wonderful, but we will not sell any record with this." When it won the Grand Prix du Disque in 1957, he admitted he had been wrong. ‘Piccolo, Saxo et Compagnie’ was a success story. Many times, people told me how it had shown them the road to music in their childhood. I consider it l’oeuvre de ma vie, the work of my life. Even today, it is still performed in theatres and by orchestras, while schools in France and abroad have been using it for educational purposes. In 1982, when two Piccolo & Saxo concerts were given in Paris’ Salle Pleyel, 10,000 children had to be disappointed. We could have sold so many more tickets!”

Like so many of his colleagues in the arranging business in France, André Popp released an impressive number of instrumental albums, such as ‘Popppp!’ (1960), the critically acclaimed ‘Holiday for DJs’ (1963), ‘Popp around the world’ (1965), and ‘Hot shot’ (1976). The most striking of these albums, however, doubtlessly is ‘Delirium in Hi-Fi’, which Popp released under the pseudonym Elsa Popping. It was a project in which the possibilities of the recording technique of the day were stretched to their delirious limits. The production won Popp the Grand Prix Académie Charles Cros. 


“The project was originally my wife’s idea. We recorded it together. I made it just to have a good time. All the techniques available to us at that time were used in order to torture the classical standards. Impossible sounds, accelerated sounds, backward sounds… It was recorded in mono, but in order to achieve the effects we wanted, we used four extra tape machines. For instance, we played the sound of a trombone at double its original speed, so it ended up sounding like a trumpet. As a consequence, we were able to record sounds which normally could never be played by anyone. Sound distortion was an unknown phenomenon in those days, but, with the help of the technicians in the Philips studio, we pulled it off. The final result was totally avant-garde."

"Boris Vian, my artistic producer at Fontana at that time, was blown away by the result and wrote the sleeve notes. Of course, it did not sell quite well, but it was highly esteemed by colleagues in the music industry, especially in the USA. Stevie Wonder once congratulated me on this album! As for my instrumental albums in general, none of them were best-sellers. But then again, I usually only recorded my own compositions. Pourcel, Lefèvre, and Mauriat were France’s most successful orchestra leaders, but the key to their success was that they recorded arrangements to famous hit melodies written by others.”

In 1960, when his contract with Philips expired, Popp became freelance, a status he never relinquished afterwards. His main source of income were the songs he composed for an endless string of artists. Working with excellent lyricists such as Pierre Cour, Eddy Marnay, and Jean-Claude Massoulier, Popp managed to create hit records, though he never seemed to take developments in popular music into account. 

Working with singer Martine Clémenceau, Popp won the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo as a composer and conductor (1971)

“I never followed the fashion of the day, but I have never looked for a style of my own either; in fact I have never looked for anything, but it is true that I have always tried, even in very commercial songs intended for a large audience, to put in dissonances and experimentations.” 

In the 1960s, Popp composed hit records which conquered Europe and the world, such as Eurovision winner ‘Tom Pillibi’ for Jacqueline Boyer (1960), ‘Manchester et Liverpool’ for Marie Lafôret (1967), and ‘L’amour est bleu’, originally recorded by Vicky Leandros in 1967, but turned into a world hit by the orchestra of Paul Mauriat in 1968 (‘Love Is Blue’). Other artists he composed pop songs for in that decade include Françoise Hardy, Marcel Amont, Patachou, Les Compagnons de la Chanson, Isabelle Aubret, Michèle Torr, Nana Mouskouri, and Brigitte Bardot. Moreover, he worked as an arranger with several pop singers on an on-and-off basis, but he stopped doing that altogether in 1969. 

“Mainly thanks to the money I had made with ‘Love Is Blue’, I did not need the arranging work any longer," Popp adds. "Therefore, I decided to use my ideas solely for compositions of my own instead of the work of others.”

With Hawaiian ukelele player Herb Ohta, recording the album ‘Song For Anna’ (1973)

Though an accomplished composer of instrumental pieces, André Popp only wrote a handful of film scores. He himself refers to this lack of work in the movie industry as the biggest regret of his life. Titles Popp worked on include Le petit prof (1959), Deux heurs à tuer (1966), and the comedy En cas de guerre mondiale, je file à l’étranger (1983). In theatre, he was responsible for writing the arrangements to the first English production of the successful French musical Irma la Douce, which ran for three years in London’s West End (1958-61) and was later staged at Broadway. A unique commission which came Popp’s way was writing the instrumental accompaniment to En France comme si vous y étiez, a televised French language course which was broadcast in many countries worldwide in the 1960s. In 1979, Popp won the Grand Prix Académie Charles Cros for the second time, on this occasion for his music to a series of audio reworkings of Hergé’s cartoon creation ‘Tintin’.

Apart from his involvement as a songwriter in four editions of the Eurovision Song Contest, Popp participated in song festivals in Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City, and Tokyo. In Rio (1969), Anne Gacoin performed Popp’s composition ‘Tzeinerlin’, which did not win the festival, but went on to hit success in an English cover version by Herman’s Hermits, ‘Years May Come, Years May Go’. In the 1970s, Popp wrote the French entry to the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo several times. In 1971, his song ‘Un jour l’amour’, performed by Martine Clemenceau, was proclaimed one of the winners of the festival, while Cathérine Ferry came twelfth in 1976 with Popp’s ‘Ma chanson d’amour’. On both occasions, André Popp conducted the festival orchestra himself.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Popp continued writing songs for artists such as Mireille Mathieu, Nicole Croisille, and Gérard Palaprat. Another striking European hit succes was ‘Uakadì uakadù’ by Nuovi Angeli (1971), an Italian cover of a song he had originally written for his son Daniel. Other bestsellers in those years include ‘L’amour c’est comme les bateaux’ for Sylvie Vartan (1976), ‘La solitude c’est après’ for Claude François (1976), and several songs for a very young Céline Dion in the early 1980s. 

Solo album (1975)

“Lyricist Eddy Marnay introduced me to Céline,” Popp recalls. “She was just 14 years old, fresh from Canada and trying to make it in France. Even back then, she had the aura of a super-vedette. She had it all; she knew how to behave on stage and of course there was this marvellous voice. In those days, however, she tried too hard to be a younger version of Mireille Mathieu, because, vocally speaking, she had not succeeded in discovering a sound of her own yet.”

Among the remainder of the music projects Popp worked on, the two albums he recorded with Hawaiian ukulele virtuoso Herb Ohta in 1973 and 1975 deserve a mention. The first of these records, ‘Song for Anna’, was in the American charts for three months and was a number one album in the Netherlands, Australia, and Brazil. In 1985, Dutch musician and producer Gert-Jan Blom invited Popp over to the Netherlands, where the thirty-two-piece orchestra of ‘La bride sur le cou’ was reconstructed for a road show, Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Blom, fascinated by Popp’s instrumental compositions from the 1950s, managed to have several of his records re-released and was the driving force behind ‘La musique qui fait Popp’, an album project for which Popp’s best-known instrumental creations were rerecorded by the Metropole Orchestra conducted by Jan Stulen (1993). 

Popp, concluding, “I have been a lucky man and I keep saying that I have lived a wonderful life. J’ai fait la musique et l’amour, I made music and love! What more could I have asked for?"

André Popp passed away in February 2014 at the age of 89.

Interviewed for this website - Puteaux, January 2013

EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

André Popp composed four Eurovision entries between 1960 and 1975, of which he only conducted the last one himself. Though his involvement as a composer in the Eurovision Song Contest began in 1960, he has an interesting link to the first festival, held in Lugano in 1956. The interval act of this first Eurovision Song Contest was taken care of by Les Trois Ménestrels, a French cabaret trio, which performed ‘Ballade de Davy Crockett’ and three other songs. All the combo arrangements for the group – the trio was not, like the singers participating in the contest itself, backed up by Fernando Paggi’s Orchestra Radiosa – were written by André Popp. He also recorded the songs performed in Lugano with the ensemble in the Parisian record studio.

In 1960, André Popp teamed up with lyricist Pierre Cour (1924-1997) to write ‘Tom Pillibi’, which, performed by young Jacqueline Boyer and conducted by Franck Pourcel, gave France a second Eurovision victory. At the 1960 festival held in London, it won with a runaway 32 points. In Eurovision circles, it has always been understood that the song was originally intended for Marcel Amont instead of Jacqueline Boyer, but Popp does not remember anything of this. 

“No, as far as I recall, Pierre and I contacted Jacqueline ourselves to sing the song. As usual, I wrote the melody first, before calling upon Pierre for the lyrics. I had known Pierre since my days as a pianist at the Trois Baudets theatre, where he occasionally performed as an actor. In one stage show, he was chosen to play a character which was old, but wanted to look young at all cost. Funnily enough, that was exactly what he was like in real life, often wearing extravagant clothing; but he was such a great friend and an extremely talented lyricist! He knew exactly what audiences liked. ‘Tom Pillibi’, about a young girl dreaming about an imaginary dream prince from Scotland, is a very good example of such appealing lyrics. No, I had never been pushing to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest. Being a well-known quantity at French TV, I was simply requested to submit a song to the selection committee. In my 3 later Eurovision participations, the situation was similar.”

In those early Eurovision days, the core of a country’s delegation consisted of a vocalist and a conductor. The songwriters had to tune in their televisions at home to watch how their creations would do in the festival final. Therefore, Popp and Cour were not present in the London auditorium when Jacqueline Boyer managed to win the contest. 

Franck Pourcel conducting the Eurovision orchestra in London for Jacqueline Boyer's performance of 'Tom Pillibi'

“There was no question that we would go to London; it was simply taken for granted that authors stayed home. If I considered conducting the song myself? Well no, that would have been a revolution. The French entry was always conducted by Franck Pourcel, who was extremely successful in those days; moreover the selection committee had asked him to write the arrangement, and he did a good job on that. There was nothing wrong with him conducting the orchestra."

"In London, however, Pourcel made a mistake! While counting in the orchestra, il a pris la chanson trop vite, he gave a tempo which was too fast. I had invited Pierre Cour over to my place to watch the contest and we were petrified… this could have been a catastrophe. But who cares… we won anyway! When Jacqueline and Franck arrived back in Paris, French television organized a cocktail party to celebrate the success. Of course, this time around, Pierre and I were invited. We were astonished, however, when the both of us received a bill, charging us for the consumptions of all people present; a bittersweet memory!”

“As for Jacqueline Boyer, her mother Lucienne was a great singer, but, to be honest, she herself was not that interesting as an artist. Things went wrong for her right after that Eurovision success in 1960. She did a tour in France and beyond, but her shows started with ‘Tom Pillibi’, followed by just 2 or 3 other songs, followed by a second rendition of ‘Tom Pillibi’… and that was it. She did not have the repertoire and she lacked the charisma. Her career never really took off.” 

‘Tom Pillibi became a hit in France and several other European countries. Cover versions were recorded by the likes of Tino Rossi and even Julie Andrews. How does Popp rank ‘Tom Pillibi’ among his other songs? “Without a doubt, it is one of my best attempts as a songwriter… a lovely little children’s tune. Contrary to ‘Les lavandières du Portugal’ and, later onwards, ‘Love Is Blue’, it did not catch on in America, but it is not a mean result to have written a Eurovision winner which became a hit in England and many other European countries!”

Jacqueline Boyer being congratulated on her Eurovision win by UK contestant Bryan Johnson

Four years after winning the Eurovision Song Contest, André Popp entered the competition again. Again representing his home country France, Popp composed ‘Le chant de Mallory’, interpreted at the contest by Rachel Ros. Once more, the lyrics were crafted by Popp’s friend Pierre Cour. This time around, Popp himself was responsible for the orchestration, which, nevertheless, was conducted by Franck Pourcel. In the festival final in Copenhagen, ‘Le chant de Mallory’ finished in 4th place in the voting. Compared to ‘Tom Pillibi’, ‘Le chant de Mallory’ was a more complicated composition. How did it end up being chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest?

“In those years, there was a radio programme of light classical music with RTF Light Music Orchestra of conductor Paul Bonneau. Sometimes, I composed pieces which were played in that broadcast. ‘Le chant de Mallory’ originally was an instrumental piece, which was picked by Bonneau for his radio programme together with 2 or 3 other creations I had written. A while after the melody had been played on the radio, some RTF official asked me if I had a suitable song for the Eurovision selection. Perhaps I said I doubted that… I don’t remember – anyhow, he suggested making a song out of that orchestral piece, because he believed the melody could catch on with a larger audience. I must have liked the idea, because the next thing I did was contacting Pierre Cour, who wrote lyrics suiting the melody of the composition.”

“Before Pierre Cour came in, the title of the instrumental piece already was ‘Le chant de Mallory’. I had read a book by an English thriller author, James Hadley Chase, bearing the title ‘Mallory’. In the book, the fictional character Mallory collaborated with the Germans in occupied France during World War II. The reason I chose ‘Mallory’ for the title of my composition was simply that it was a name which sounded good. At that point, of course, I did not have a theme for the lyrics in my head. Pierre Cour, proving his genius, wrote words about a love affair in Ireland while retaining the title of the original and using the name Mallory in his lyrics too.”

Rachel Ros – in arte simply Rachel – was a singer who had been part of Mireille’s Petit Conservatoire de la Chanson together with famous names such as François Hardy, Frida Boccara, and Yves Duteil. “When I first heard that girl, I was much impressed by her voice," Popp recalls. "She was a good friend of ours back then. I hand-picked her to interpret ‘Le chant de Mallory’ in the Eurovision Song Contest. Vocally, virtually nobody could have sung it better, but she more or less failed to sell the song. To be successful as a singer, you have to be able to get your emotions across to the audience, but Rachel lacked the enthusiasm and mind-set to be a singer. She was a pretty face and her voice was excellent… but that was it. Nevertheless, the song did reasonably well in Eurovision and was a major hit success here in France. Les Compagnons de la Chanson recorded their version of it.”

André Popp with Rachel (1964)

In 1967, André Popp and Pierre Cour combined their forces for a third Eurovision attempt, this time with ‘L’amour est bleu’, with which a very young Vicky Leandros represented Luxembourg in the festival final in Vienna. There, the song, arranged and conducted by Claude Denjean, finished in 4th place. Who could have expected a cover version of that song to turn into one of the biggest hits of the following year? In 1968, an instrumental version by Paul Mauriat and his orchestra, caught on in the USA and became a worldwide success. Popp remembers the remarkable story of ‘L’amour est bleu’ – or as it became known: ‘Love Is Blue’ – very well.

“RTL Luxembourg commissioned me to write a Eurovision song for Vicky Leandros. They had already chosen her as their representative. She came to my place for me to allow me to assess her vocal abilities. Honestly, I was not much impressed by what I heard. Elle chantait un peu comme tout le monde, her voice did not really have a timbre of its own and she lacked personality. When she sang a Nana Mouskouri song, she copied the style of Nana Mouskouri, and the same with Mireille Mathieu, etcetera. Her later success can only be explained because her father was so adept at pushing her at TV stations and record companies. In short, a totally uninteresting girl. Perhaps for that reason, I did not feel much inspiration to write a good song."

"Two days before the deadline, and a full month after Vicky Leandros’ visit, the melody came to me. I woke up early and sat at the piano… and then the main theme flowed from my fingers as if it was someone else who guided them. Writing the rest of the song did not take longer than a mere 5 minutes. It is so funny how things like these go sometimes! I called Pierre Cour and, as usual, he came up with the lyrics in a matter of hours. Our song was ready – just in time!”

Japanese single release of Vicky Leandros’ original version of ‘L’amour est bleu’

For the Eurovision Song Contest, ‘L’amour est bleu’ was arranged and conducted by Claude Denjean, a well-known name in the French recording business. “I never got to know him closely," Popp states. "He was probably asked by RTL or by Vicky’s record company to take care of the job. In the second half of the 1960s, I only seldom worked as a studio arranger anymore, so I did not push my name forward… and I did not go to Vienna. At that time, I believed the song had died on the Eurovision stage; it came 4th and nothing much happened, chart-wise. Later that year, orchestra leader Paul Mauriat recorded an instrumental cover of the song… no surprise there, as Mauriat, Lefèvre, and Pourcel recorded one record after the other with such cover versions. Paul did not change much in the original orchestration, apart from adding a dominant harpsichord to enliven the verses a little. To his mind, it fitted the melody.”

“In the months that followed, nothing much seemed to happen. At one point, however, a disk jockey in Minnesota who had been sent the Mauriat record, fell in love with the ‘Love is Blue’ track – and so much so, that he played it in his radio show once every hour. Before long, ‘Love Is Blue’ was picked up by other radio stations and it was given a single release in the USA. It was a huge hit, climbing to number one in the Billboard Hot 100 and staying there for 5 weeks – the first time a French song was a number-one record in America! It was the second-biggest hit of the year in the United States behind the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’. Europe and Japan followed suit – except for France, because Radio Europe 1 refused to play it!"

"Thanks to this one song, Paul Mauriat had a career for 30 years in Japan, performing for sell-out crowds. I happened to be in Tokyo once when Paul gave a concert there with his orchestra and he invited me to attend it as a guest of honour. When he introduced me to the audience as the composer of ‘Love Is Blue’, I received an enormous ovation. After the concert, I was surrounded by fans who were after my signature. It took me over an hour signing all those record sleeves!”

In the end, ‘Love Is Blue’ sold over 30 million records in Paul Mauriat’s version, and more than 40 million when taking into account all cover versions. “I have never complained about the life I led, but after ‘Love Is Blue’ things became truly very easy. As a composer, I earned heaps of money because of this one creation; it was the turning point in my career. From that moment, I have been financially independent. It is odd how things developed for me… in 1953 or 1954, I bought my first house taking out a mortgage. In 1955, ‘Les lavandières du Portugal’ was an enormous hit success and I managed to pay off the loan within two years. One or two years prior to ‘Love Is Blue’, we bought a spacious villa in the French Riviera. Thanks to ‘Love Is Blue’, I paid off that mortgage within a year as well. Nothing but plain luck!”


In 1975, Popp composed his 4th and final Eurovision song, ‘Une chanson c’est une lettre’. The lyrics were written by Boris Bergman, who also was involved as a songwriter in the 1973 Monegasque song and the 2013 (!) French entry. Monaco’s broadcaster RMC selected ‘Une chanson c’est une lettre’ to represent the statelet in that year’s contest, which took place in Stockholm. Its interpreter, Sophie (pseudonym of Arlette Hecquet, 1944-2012), had to settle for a modest 13th place in the scoreboard. Popp did not only write the arrangement to his own song, but he also conducted the Swedish Eurovision orchestra for it.

The composer is quite reluctant to talk about this Eurovision participation, “What is the use of reminding people of that song? As far as I remember, we came last or second-last. I never consciously took the decision that I wanted to take part; I was invited by RMC to compose a song. They gave it to Sophie and she was no good. Why? Simply, because she was no good! She lacked the charisma and the voice to be a good singer. Sophie was a speakerine, a radio and TV announcer at RMC, and that was probably the only reason she was chosen. We recorded the song with her, but I do not believe that more than a couple of hundreds of copies were sold.”

In Stockholm, the Monegasque participants struck up a bond of friendship with the French delegation. Popp helped out his conducting colleague for France, Jean Musy, in a most peculiar way. Musy, who had completely forgotten about his flight to Stockholm and who was still asleep when a nervous member of the French party telephoned him to ask why he was not at the airport in Paris, rushed from his house to catch the plane, forgetting to take any clothing with him; he had no smoking to wear for the Eurovision concert. In an entertaining anecdote, Musy told us how Popp saved the day. 

“I had travelled to Sweden in jeans. At the rehearsals, I met André Popp; such a nice man! Immediately, he suggested taking a cab to the city-centre of Stockholm to find me something suitable. Clumsily enough, we failed to find anything in my size. In the end, André offered me one of his dress shirts. All other pieces of clothing I was wearing for the concert, including the shoes, were borrowed from different member of the French delegation – except for the underwear! I looked bizarre, because none of the elements fitted me well. The shirt, for a start, was far too tight, as André was so much thinner than me.”

Popp does not recall having conducted the Swedish orchestra, even to the point of denying that he did, but he does remember staying in Stockholm. “One night, we went for a drink in downtown Stockholm with all of the French and Monegasque delegates. It was stone cold, un froid du canard. As we had a good time together, it was already 2 am when we decided we wanted to go back to the hotel… but the whole of Stockholm seemed to be fast asleep. There was not a single taxi to be found. We ended up having to walk the long distance back to the hotel in that horrible cold. I had never felt that cold in my life before, nor thereafter. Yes, perhaps it is a little odd that I still remember this and have no recollection of working with the Swedish orchestra, but I am 88 years of age and, sometimes, your mind plays tricks upon you!”

Sophie Hecquet on the Eurovision stage in Stockholm (1975)

OTHER ARTISTS ABOUT ANDRÉ POPP

So far, we have not gathered comments of other artists who worked with André Popp.

EUROVISION INVOLVEMENT YEAR BY YEAR

Country – France
Song title – “Tom Pillibi”
Rendition – Jacqueline Boyer
Lyrics – Pierre Cour
Composition – André Popp
Studio arrangement – Franck Pourcel
(studio orchestra conducted by Franck Pourcel)
Live orchestration – Franck Pourcel
Conductor – Franck Pourcel
Score – 1st place (32 votes)


Country – France
Song title – “Le chant de Mallory”
Rendition – Rachel Ros
Lyrics – Pierre Cour
Composition – André Popp
Studio arrangement – André Popp
(studio orchestra conducted by André Popp)
Live orchestration – André Popp
Conductor – Franck Pourcel
Score – 4th place (14 votes)


Country – Luxembourg
Song title – "L’amour est bleu"
Rendition – Vicky Leandros
Lyrics – Pierre Cour
Composition – André Popp
Studio arrangement – Claude Denjean
(studio orchestra conducted by Claude Denjean)
Live orchestration – Claude Denjean
Conductor – Claude Denjean
Score – 4th place (17 votes)



Country – Monaco
Song title – “Une chanson c'est une lettre”
Rendition – Sophie Hecquet
Lyrics – Boris Bergman
Composition – André Popp
Studio arrangement – André Popp
(studio orchestra conducted by André Popp)
Live orchestration – André Popp
Conductor – André Popp
Score – 13th place (22 votes)


SOURCES & LINKS
  • Bas Tukker interviewed André Popp in Puteaux, Greater Paris, January 2013
  • Many thanks to André Popp for allowing us to use his collection of press publications about himself and his work
  • Photos courtesy of André Popp, Gert-Jan Blom, Piet Schreuders, and Ferry van der Zant