Jean-Claude Petit

Born: November 14th, 1943, Vaires-sur-Marne (France)
Nationality: French

Jean-Claude Petit studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur in Paris, graduating with first prizes in harmony, fugue, and counterpoint. In the 1970s, he became the single most successful arranger in French pop music, being responsible for the orchestration to a great number of hits, including ‘Si on chantait’ for Julien Clerc (1972), ‘Je suis malade’ for Serge Lama (1973), ‘Le Lac Majeur’ for Mort Shuman (1973), and ‘Le telephone pleure’ for Claude François (1974). Other artists for whom he worked include Mink DeVille and Michel Sardou. He also released a couple of instrumental LP’s under his own name. From the late 1970s onwards, Petit started focusing on composing and arranging film scores, amongst the most famous ones being ‘Jean de Florette’ (1986), ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ (1990), and ‘The horseman on the roof’ (1995). He arranged the music to rock opera ‘La revolution Française’ (2010).

Between 1971 and 1987, Jean-Claude Petit was involved in the Eurovision Song Contest several times as a composer, arranger, and conductor. In ’71, he wrote the orchestration to ‘Un banc, un arbre, une rue’, with which Sévérine won the contest for Monaco; Petit also made his debut in the festival as a conductor that year. Also in 1971, he was responsible for the arrangement of the French entry, ‘Un jardin sur la terre’, which was sung by Serge Lama and conducted by Franck Pourcel. In 1974, Petit arranged ‘La vie à vingt-cinq ans’ for Dani, who represented France; however, the country withdrew from the contest that year due to the death of President Pompidou, which meant that Petit did not get the opportunity to conduct the orchestra for Dani in Brighton. In 1981, he co-composed ‘C’est peut-être pas l’Amérique’ for Jean-Claude Pascal, who, exactly twenty years after his Eurovision victory with ‘Nous, les amoureux’, again represented Luxembourg, but without much success; Petit did not write the orchestration to this song and conducting the orchestra was left to Joel Rocher. In 1986 and 1987, Jean-Claude Petit was musical director of the French Eurovision preselections and accompanied the respective winners (Cocktail Chic with ‘Européennes’ and Christine Minier with ‘Les mots d’amour n’ont pas de dimanche’) as a conductor to the international finals in Bergen and Brussels.

In due course, a more extensive biography of Jean-Claude Petit will be published on this website


Songs conducted
1971: Un banc, un arbre, une rue
1986: Européennes
1987: Les mots d'amour n'ont pas de dimanche