Charles Aznavour: On centenary of the late great French Armenian chansonnier

19:25, April 23

On the eve of the 100th birth anniversary of Charles Aznavour, STYLE has prepared a series of reports dedicated to the life and work of this great French Armenian singer. In today's report we tell interesting facts from the biography of Aznavour, as well as about his musical path.

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Shahnur Vakhinak Aznavuryan was born on May 22, 1924 in the French capital Paris into a family of Armenian emigrants. Charles' father was an operetta artist, and his mother was a journalist interviewing him. This is how the love story of Charles’ parents, Mamikon and Knar, began.

The family owned a small café in Paris, which was often frequented by Russian emigrants. So, Charles quickly began to master the Russian language.

Already at the age of 5, Charles knew how to play the violin and gave small performances in the family restaurant. Thus began the first steps towards the boy’s future musical career, which continued at the theater school, where little Charles was sent by his parents.

At the age of 12, Charles received his first invitation to the cinema. But soon the Second World War began, which changed the family’s plans. The Aznavourian were ruined, and Charles’ father went to the front. The war forced the boy to grow up too quickly, and 15-year-old Charles traveled with a troupe to the provinces to play theatrical productions, and also performed in bars and cafés with his musical compositions.

The Aznavourian family advocated anti-fascist resistance and helped Jews fleeing the Nazis, hiding them in their home.

When the war ended, Charles was able to once again devote all his time to music. One day, an entertainer mistakenly announced Charles together with pianist Pierre Roche, but both were not taken aback and performed on stage in a duet.

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Soon he met Edith Piaf, who, enchanted by Charles, organized foreign tours for him. For 8 years, Charles composed songs for Piaf and was also her impresario.

Since 1950, at the age of 26, Aznavour began his solo career, but the artist’s first performances failed miserably. Also, Charles changed his last name to Aznavour and continued his solo career.

Aznavour was distinguished by his courageous and decisive temperament, which did not let him give up after the difficulties he experienced. Already in 1954, Aznavour went on a US tour. In America, Charles was warmly greeted by the public, and he became known to the general public.

During this period, Aznavour's career began to take off.

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In 1956, Aznavour performed three times a day at the famous Olympia Hall in Paris.

In the 1960s, Aznavour came to Soviet Armenia’s capital Yerevan for a concert. Later in his autobiography, the chansonnier described how he was stunned by the hospitality and cordiality in his homeland. 

In 1973, Charles released the song “What Makes a Man,” which talks about a transvestite. Despite the provocative topic for that time, the song gained wide popularity and popularity.

Aznavour's songs were performed by such musicians as Bob Dylan, Liza Minnelli, Ray Charles, and many others. Charles himself performed in duets with many legendary musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Patricia Kaas, Celine Dion, and Luciano Pavarotti.

In 2006, Charles went to Cuba, where he wrote his new album.

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Aznavour is the author of more than a thousand musical compositions and songs. Over the course of his entire career, the singer has sold over 200 million copies of his albums and had more than a thousand concerts in 94 countries.

At home, the chansonnier’s cult songs were “La Bohème”, “Une vie d’amour”, “She”, “Hier encore,” and many others. The song “Ils sont tombés,” written for the 60th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, is of great importance for Charles’ compatriots.

Charles Aznavour loved the public very much, and often admitted that he would like to perform on stage until he is 100 years old. He could not fulfill this dream, but the singer devoted almost 85 years to the stage.

Regina Melikyan

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