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Au revoir, Charles Aznavour

Blog | By Simon Courtauld | Oct 01, 2018


Alors, adieu, Charles Aznavour, aged 94. You were cruelly, but wittily, given the name Charles Aznovoice by Private Eye. But your voice was hauntingly beautiful in its melancholy and your songs almost agonisingly memorable. Jean Cocteau once said that in your singing you made despair popular.

You were the last of that group of singers – Edith Piaf, Gilbert Bécaud, Jacques Brel, Juliette Greco, Charles Trenet – who made the French chanson famous in the 1950s and 1960s. I only wish I had heard your concert at the Albert Hall three years ago. But you have left us two of your best songs in English – She and Yesterday When I Was Young – for which a fellow nonagenarian, Herbert Kretzmer, wrote the lyrics, which led to him being commissioned to do the lyrics for Les Misérables.

Until yesterday you still seemed to be young.