André Charles Jean Popp (19 February 1924 – 10 May 2014) was a French composer, arranger and screenwriter.
Popp was born into a family of German-Dutch background, in Fontenay-le-Comte, Vendée (Catinchi 2014). 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. Popp studied music at the Saint Joseph Institute. In the 1960s, he co-wrote (with Pierre Cour) at least three songs for the Eurovision Song Contest—"Tom Pillibi", which won the competition for France when it was sung by 18-year-old newcomer Jacqueline Boyer in 1960 (Catinchi 2014), "Le chant de Mallory", the 1964 French entry, performed by another newcomer, Rachel (Anon. 1964), and "L'amour est bleu" (Love is Blue) which came fourth for Luxembourg in 1967, but which later became a number-one hit instrumental in the US for Paul Mauriat. During this time he was the arranger for many top French singers such as Juliette Greco. He worked for many years for French radio.
Popp is the composer of Piccolo, Saxo et Compagnie, to a text by Jean Broussolle, a musical tale for children intended as a guide to the instruments of the orchestra and the rudiments of harmony (Catinchi 2014).
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.
André Popp has been an inspiration for newer French composers such as Fred Pallem.
Popp is the author of the pop song "Manchester et Liverpool" sung by Marie Laforêt. Its melody gained fame in the former Soviet Union as the background music to the Vremya television news programme's weather forecast since the early 1970s.
Popp made one-of-a-kind space-age instrumental recordings during the 1950s and by the early 1960s had built quite a good reputation in the music recording industry and was in demand as an arranger. He made orchestrations for Rive Gauche legend Juliette Gréco that were jazzy, urbane, vibrant, quirky, even cartoonish at times. The arrival of rock and roll in France and, consequentially, yé-yé music, dramatically changed the expectations of French audiences and record buyers, especially the younger ones, who were more interested in singers like Johnny Hallyday than Jacques Brel, although chansonniers such as Brel ultimately remained just as popular as they had been in the 1950s.
Popp had to adapt to these new trends. He worked almost exclusively with female singers during this period, preferably the Lolita types, such as Chantal Goya, but also with Françoise Hardy. "Love is Blue", a song Vicky Leandros performed at the Eurovision Song Contest 1967 on behalf of Luxembourg, also recorded by Claudine Longet, became internationally popular. In these recordings, Popp does not sacrifice the sophistication of his 1950s orchestrations, but rather than animate the songs, he seems to set the tone, the mood, painting a colorful picture. Sometimes there are silky, smooth strings; often there is harpsichord and oboe and flute; elsewhere adventurous brassy fanfares; occasionally an ethereal soprano chorus; always some magical musical final touch, like the faint, quavering harmonica in "Manchester et Liverpool". Marie Laforêt's voice fit perfectly in André Popp's 1960s soundscapes and he created more of them for her than for her contemporaries.
Popp died at his apartment in the Paris suburb of Puteaux on 10 May 2014, the very day that his last interview, with Benoît Duteurtre, was broadcast on France Musique (Anon. 2014; Catinchi 2014).