French composer André Popp dies, age 90

French composer, arranger and orchestra leader André Popp died on May 10. He was 90. Popp was born in Fontenay-le-Comte, Vendée, France. He started his career as a church organist, filling the place of his father who had been called up to serve in World War II in 1939.

André Popp - Elsa Popping

Popp studied music at the Saint Joseph Institute. In the 1960s, he co-wrote two songs for the Eurovision Song Contest: “Tom Pillibi”, which won the competition for France in 1960, and “L’amour est bleu” (“Love is Blue”) which later became a number one hit in the US for Paul Mauriat. During this time he was also the arranger for many top French singers, such as Juliette Greco.

Popp is the composer of “Piccolo and Saxo”, a musical tale for children intended as a guide to the instruments of the orchestra and the rudiments of harmony. In 1957, Popp released “Delirium in Hi-Fi” (originally titled “Elsa Popping et sa Musique Sidérante”), a collaboration with Pierre Fatosme, an experiment in the recording techniques of the time.

“Popped!” also released as “Presenting Popp!,” is less experimental, but still features marvelously comic and ingenious arrangements. Popp’s ability to bring surprising new mixes of instrumentation to conventional melodies has led some to compare him to Esquivel.

Later albums are less adventurous, although even in later years Popp always combined his skills as an arranger with a knack for quirky melodies. André Popp’s music has always been a major inspiration for this website. We will miss you, monsieur Popp.