Charles Aznavour’s songs are part of our collective identity

Charles Aznavour joined SUISA in 1976 and was one of our best-known members. The countless tributes on TV, radio and in the press around the world since his death are a reminder, if one was necessary, of the scale of his legend. They can also teach us a few important lessons. Obituary by Xavier Dayer, President of SUISA

Charles Aznavour’s songs are part of our collective identity

Charles Aznavour, pictured at the Teatro Regio di Parma on 30 October 2009, wrote lyrics and music for innumerable chansons over the course of his career. (Photo: Fabio Diena / Shutterstock)

As a singer and performer, Charles Aznavour was a genius, yet he was also an extraordinary composer and lyricist and he highlighted this essential aspect of his activities time and time again.

In the public archives of French authors’ rights society SACEM, we can find the entrance examination he took to join the society as an author in 1947. Yes, it’s true: at that time all new members had to pass an entrance exam! It is particularly moving to read the lyrics to a song called “Si je voulais”, corrected by SACEM in red ink.

It’s a powerful reminder of the steps taken by Charles Aznavour, son of Armenian immigrants, on his path from obscurity to global fame. One cannot help but see this journey as a hymn to the openness of our modern societies to the constant acceptance and awareness that cultures are enriched by these ties. At this very moment, a “Charles Aznavour” of tomorrow might be on a boat crossing the Mediterranean.

Today, Aznavour’s gravelly voice and his songs, with their distinctive words and melodies, are a part of who we are, our collective identity. His work is part of our “today” and his career is a message of hope to all creators.

Words are always pale in comparison with the power of musical expression. They cannot convey how deeply grateful we are at SUISA to have handled rights management for Charles Aznavour. This is truly an immense honour and we would like to offer our sincere condolences to his loved ones.

www.aznavourfoundation.org

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