Friday 31 December 1999


This website is the successor of 'And The Conductor Is...', which was devised in 2009 by two Dutchmen, Bas Tukker and Edwin van Gorp, as a webpage dedicated to all musicians who ever conducted the Eurovision orchestra. 

Frustrated with the disappearance of the Eurovision orchestra, which had been an integral part of the contest between its inception in 1956 and the edition in Birmingham in 1998, Bas Tukker, who had been a follower of the festival since his childhood in the second half of the 1980s, was looking for a way to turn his chagrin about developments in the contest into something positive.

In 2006, following an idea of another Dutch Eurovision connoisseur, Ferry van der Zant, Tukker - who had meanwhile earned a Ph.D. in Latin literature - started doing interviews with musicians who had taken part in the contest as a conductor for a Eurovision magazine, EA-Nieuws - later renamed Eurovision Artists. Armed with an obsolete tape recorder and using his - let's put it mildly - rather lapidary interviewing skills, he fired his first questions at guileless, yet very friendly Austrian musicians Richard Oesterreicher and Mischa Krausz in Vienna, August 2006.

Given that the Eurovision Artists magazine appeared only two or three times a year, Tukker found it increasingly hard to curb his enthusiasm - two or three interviews per year simply was not enough to satisfy his curiosity and his enthusiasm to preserve stories and anecdotes from the earlier years of the contest.

Edwin van Gorp, who ran the Eurovision Artists website, offered Tukker the opportunity to turn the interviewing project into a fully-fledged website. In the summer of 2010, Tukker wrote short, two-paragraph biographies of all 346 conductors who ever took part in the competition, which were uploaded by Van Gorp onto a test website designed by him. 

Finally, in 2011, 'And The Conductor Is...' was launched officially. In the following years, Bas Tukker made holiday trips to Israel, Iceland, Finland, and many other countries to meet and interview musicians as part of the website project. Other maestros were interviewed in lengthy, and very costly, telephone conversations.

In his native Netherlands, Tukker got in touch with one of the daughters of the legendary founder of the Metropole Orchestra, Dolf van der Linden, who provided him with tons of source material about her father. The article which resulted from this had far-reaching consequences; a couple of years later, in 2014, Tukker was commissioned by the Metropole Orchestra to write a book about the life and works of Dolf van der Linden, presented with a mini-concert by the orchestra, conducted by Jan Stulen in Hilversum on the maestro's 100th birthday in June 2015. On that occasion, the first copy of the book was presented by Tukker to Dolf van der Linden's younger brother - himself an accomplished pianist, composer, and arranger - Rob.

Perhaps the most gratifying result of this biography was an increased interest in the Netherlands in the life and music of Dolf van der Linden, resulting in a TV special dedicated to the Metropole Orchestra's history and, in 2023, a podcast wholly dedicated to Van der Linden's life, put together by Tukker and Carine Lacor, presenter of Radio 4 Klassiek. 

Following this, Tukker also completed a book about the Metropole Orchestra's third conductor, Dick Bakker - another musician with a firm involvement in Eurovision history, given that he composed the winning entry in 1975, 'Ding Ding-A-Dong' and conducted the Netherlands' three last entries with live orchestral accompaniment in the late 1990s.

These book projects meant work on the website came to a standstill for considerable amounts of time. Meanwhile, the focus of the articles published onto the site had somewhat changed. Whereas, initially, the focus was firmly on the musicians' Eurovision involvement, over time Tukker became more interested in their careers as a whole. Many of the interviewees had their heyday in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, an era when the music industry evolved around large studio orchestras - a situation which has changed profoundly since. As such, the website also became a source of historical information about developments in the music business in general.

Over the years, Bas Tukker collected interesting information about other music festivals which he could not directly use on the 'And The Conductor Is...' website. Therefore, he created a blog with sections about the San Remo Festival and the Nordring Festival, as well as Dutch translations of website articles dedicated to musicians from the Netherlands and Belgium. Slowly acquainting himself with the opportunities offered by such a blog website, he came to the conclusion that it would perhaps be easier to take matters completely into his own hands by transferring all website content to the blog, enriching it with other documentation collected over the years, as well as complete databanks of the history of 'San Remo' and 'Nordring'. 

This new-look website, which retained the orange colour of 'And The Conductor Is...', was launched in the fall of 2023.

Thank You!

First and foremost, my thanks go out to Edwin van Gorp for his years of selfless dedication to the 'And The Conductor Is...' website. Ferry van der Zant deserves credit for coming up with the idea of interviewing conductors in the first place, while he has remained involved in the project until this day by putting at my disposal hundreds of pictures from his huge collection of Eurovision photos. 

Tin Španja, a Norwegian Eurovision follower and creator of the Facebook page Eurovision Live Music, has contributed by uploading dozens of Eurovision videos - importantly always including the presentation of the conductor! - which take an important place on this website.

As for the San Remo section of this website, I owe a big thank you to Nicolò Sperandei, who shares my passion for the San Remo orchestra and put at my disposal all information he had collected about the subject without asking anything in return.

The difficult task of proofreading my write-ups is accomplished by British Eurovision follower Mark Coupar, who puts in hours of time and energy in correcting the English of sometimes very, very lengthy manuscripts. His contribution to this website can hardly be overestimated.

Others who proofread my write-ups in the past include Lily Beatrice Cooper, Bill Holland, Joe Newman Getzler, Daniel Beach, and Joe Beaver. Thanks are due also to them. Thanks to Richard Franckx for translating the 30 pages of the biography of his father-in-law Jack Say (Jacques Ysaye) into French.

Ulft, Netherlands, September 2023
Dr. Bas Tukker

1 comment:

  1. Hello Bas,

    First of all: congratulations on your new website. It looks very nice and the content, which of course I already know for the most part, is of a high level.

    I have enjoyed working on the And The Conductor Is-website for the past 13 years a lot. It was always great fun to convert the biographies you created, which were full of (for me) new information about the musicians and/or the Eurovision Song Contest, into an online version. It was fun to read the articles and I have also learned a lot from this technically over the years. It always took some time, but that was never a problem for me.

    I completely understand your choice to continue the site independently, you know that by now. I wish you every success and if you ever need help, you know where to find me.

    Edwin van Gorp