- Charles Aznavour
Aznavour at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival
Background information Birth name Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian Born May 22, 1924 Origin Paris, France Genres Pop
Occupations Singer-songwriter, actor, public activist, diplomat Years active 1936–present Labels EMI
Associated acts Claude Lombard
Charles Aznavour, OC (born Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian Armenian: Շահնուր Վաղինակ Ազնավուրյան Shahnour Vaghinak Aznavuryan, May 22, 1924, Paris) is an Armenian-French singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat. Besides being one of France's most popular and enduring singers, he is also one of the best-known singers in the world. Charles Aznavour (pronounced in French as Sharl Aznavour) is known for his very short stature and for his unique tenor voice: clear and ringing in its upper reaches, with gravelly and profound low notes. He has appeared in more than sixty movies, composed about a thousand songs (including 150 at least in English, 100 in Italian, 70 in Spanish, and 50 in German), and sold well over 100 million records.
In 1998, Charles Aznavour was named Entertainer of the Century by CNN and users of Time Online from around the globe. He was recognized as the century's outstanding performer, with nearly 18% of the total vote, edging out Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. He has sung for presidents, popes, and royalty, as well as at humanitarian events, and is the founder of the charitable organization Aznavour for Armenia along with his long-time friend and impresario Levon Sayan.
Aznavour started his global farewell tour in late 2006, and will tour France in Fall 2011. In 2009 he was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland, as well as Armenia's permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Politics
- 3 Awards and recognition
- 4 Discography
- 5 Filmography
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Aznavour was born as Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian in Paris the son of Armenian immigrants Michael Aznavourian (an Armenian from Akhaltsikhe in nowadays Georgia) and Knar Baghdasarian (from Turkey). His father spent his youth in Tbilisi, where his family had moved for work (Charles's grandfather was a personal chef to Governor General in Tbilisi). Later, after moving to France, Michael Aznavourian sang in restaurants before establishing his own Caucasian restaurant called Le Caucase. Together with his wife, who was an actress, Michael introduced Charles to the world of theatre at an early age. Charles dropped out of school at the age of nine, already aspiring to the life of an artist. He began to perform at this time, and soon took the stage name "Aznavour". His big break came in 1946 when the singer Édith Piaf heard him sing and arranged to take him with her on tour in France and to the United States.
Often described as "France's Frank Sinatra ", Aznavour sings frequently about love. He has written musicals and about a thousand songs, and made more than one hundred records. Aznavour's voice is shaded towards the tenor range, but possesses the low range and coloration more typical of a baritone, contributing to his unique sound. Aznavour speaks and sings in many languages (French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Russian, Armenian, Portuguese, Neapolitan), which has helped him perform at Carnegie Hall and other major venues around the world. He also recorded at least one song from the 18th century poet Sayat Nova, in Armenian. Que C'est Triste Venise, sung in French, Italian (Com'è Triste Venezia), Spanish (Venecia Sin Ti), English (How Sad Venice Can Be), and German (Venedig in Grau), is one of Aznavour's most famous multilingual songs.
In 1974 Aznavour became a major success in the United Kingdom where his song "She" went to Number One in the charts. His other well-known song in the UK was "Dance in the Old Fashioned Way".
Artists who have covered his songs and collaborated with Aznavour include Fred Astaire, Andrea Bocelli, Bing Crosby, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan (he named Aznavour among the greatest live performers he's ever seen), Liza Minnelli, Josh Groban, Shirley Bassey, José Carreras, Laura Pausini, Nana Mouskouri and Julio Iglesias. Fellow French pop legend Mireille Mathieu has sung and recorded with Aznavour on numerous occasions. In 1974, Jack Jones recorded an entire album of Aznavour compositions entitled "Write Me A Love Song, Charlie", re-released on CD in 2006. Aznavour and Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti sang Gounod's aria Ave Maria together. He performed with famed Russian cellist and friend Mstislav Rostropovich to inaugurate the French presidency of the European Union in 1995. Elvis Costello recorded "She" for the film Notting Hill. One of Aznavour's greatest friends and collaborators from the music industry is legendary Spanish operatic tenor Plácido Domingo, who often performs his hits, most notably a studio recording of "Les bateaux sont partis" in 1985, as well as multiple live renditions Aznavour's "Ave Maria". In 1994, Aznavour performed with Domingo and Norwegian soprano Sissel Kyrkjebø at Domingo's third annual Christmas in Vienna concert. The three singers performed a variety of carols, medleys, and duets, and the concert was televised throughout the world, as well as released on a CD internationally.
At the start of autumn in 2006, Aznavour initiated his farewell tour, performing in the US and Canada, and earning very positive reviews. Aznavour started 2007 with concerts all over Japan and Asia. The second half of 2007 saw Aznavour return to Paris for over 20 shows at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, followed by more touring in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the rest of France. He has repeatedly stated that this farewell tour, health permitting, will likely last beyond 2010. At 87, Aznavour is in excellent health, although admittedly 60 years on stage have made him "a little hard of hearing". He still sings in multiple languages and without persistent use of teleprompters, but typically sticks to just two or three (French and English being the primary two, with Spanish or Italian being the third) during most concerts. On 30 September 2006, Aznavour performed a major concert in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia to start off the cultural season "Arménie mon amie" in France. Former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan and French president Jacques Chirac, at the time on an official visit to Armenia, were in front-row attendance.
In 2006, 82-year-old Aznavour traveled to Cuba, where he, together with Chucho Valdes, recorded his new album Colore Ma Vie, presented at Aznavour's Moscow concert in April 2007. Later, in July 2007, Aznavour was invited to perform at the Vieilles Charrues Festival.
"Forever Cool" (2007), an album from Capitol/EMI, features Aznavour singing a new duet of "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" with the voice of the late Dean Martin.
Aznavour finished a tour of Portugal in February 2008. On 18 January 2008 he participated as guest vocalist with the contestants of the French reality show Star Academy and sang his famous Emmenez-Moi with contestant Jérémy Chapron. Throughout the spring of 2008, Aznavour toured South America, holding a multitude of concerts in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay. Summer saw him in Quebec, and a return to Latin America followed in autumn.
In 2008 an album of duets, Duos, was released. It is a collaborative effort featuring Aznavour and his greatest friends and partners from his long career in the music industry, including Celine Dion, Laura Pausini, Josh Groban, Plácido Domingo, and many others. It was released on various dates in December 2008 across the world. His next album, Charles Aznavour and The Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (previously known as Jazznavour 2), is a continuation in the same vein as his hit album Jazznavour released in 1998, involving new arrangements on his classic songs with a jazz orchestra and other guest jazz artists. It was released on November 30, 2009.
In 2009 Aznavour also toured across America. The tour, named Aznavour en liberté, started in late April 2009 with a wave of concerts across the United States and Canada, took him across Latin America in the autumn, as well as the USA once again. In August 2011 Aznavour released a new album, Aznavour Toujours, featuring 11 new songs, and Elle, a French re-working of his greatest international hit, She. Following the release of Aznavour Toujours, 87-years old Aznavour began a tour across France, named Charles Aznavour en Toute Intimité, which started with 21 concerts in the "Olympia" theatre in Paris.
FilmSee also: Charles Aznavour#Filmography
Aznavour has had a long and varied parallel career as an actor, appearing in over 60 films. In 1960 Aznavour starred in François Truffaut's Tirez sur le pianiste, playing a character called Édouard Saroyan. He also put in a critically acclaimed performance in the 1974 movie And Then There Were None. Aznavour had an important supporting role in 1979's The Tin Drum, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1980. Aznavour starred in the 2002 movie Ararat playing Edward Saroyan, a movie director.
Armenia and abroad
Since the 1988 earthquake in Armenia, Aznavour has been helping the country through his charity, Aznavour for Armenia. Together with his brother in-law and co-author Georges Garvarentz he writes the song "Pour toi Arménie", which was performed by a group of famous French artists and topped the charts for 18 weeks. There is a square named after him in central Yerevan on Abovian Street, and a statue erected in Gyumri, which saw the most lives lost in the earthquake. In 1995 Charles Aznavour was appointed an Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Armenia to UNESCO. Aznavour is a member of the Armenia Fund International Board of Trustees. The organization has rendered more than $150 million in humanitarian aid and infrastructure development assistance to Armenia since 1992. Charles Aznavour was appointed as "Officier" (Officer) of the Légion d'honneur in 1997.
In 2004 Aznavour received the title of "National Hero of Armenia" for his humanitarian work, Armenia's highest award. On December 26, 2008, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan signed a presidential decree for granting citizenship for the Republic of Armenia to Charles Aznavour whom he called a "prominent singer and public figure" and "a hero of the Armenian people".
An admirer of Quebec, where he played in Montreal cabarets before becoming famous, he has helped the career of Québécoise singer-songwriter Lynda Lemay in France, and has a house in Montreal. On 5 July 2008, he was invested as an honorary officer of the Order of Canada and performed the following day on the Plains of Abraham as a feature of the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City.
Aznavour and famed Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, with the collaboration of over 40 of France's most celebrated singers and musicians, recorded a music video band aid[disambiguation needed ] in the aftermath of the catastrophic 2010 Haiti earthquake, titled "1 geste pour Haïti chérie".
Personal life and cultural impact
Aznavour married his third wife, Swede Ulla Thorsell, in 1968. He has 5 children - Seda, Katia, Misha, Nicolas and Patrick. He currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland.
His musicality and fame abroad is present in many other areas of pop culture. Aznavour's name was used as the basis for the name of the character Char Aznable by Yoshiyuki Tomino in his anime mecha series, Mobile Suit Gundam. His song "Parce Que Tu Crois" was sampled by Hip Hop producer Dr. Dre for the song "What's the Difference", from his album 2001. He is mentioned in The Psychedelic Furs song "Sister Europe" ("The radio upon the floor/ is stupid, it plays Aznavour").
He has often joked about his physicality, the most infamous feature of which is his limited height; he stands only 160 cm (5 ft 3 in) tall, and Aznavour has made this a source of self-deprecating humour over the years.
Charles Aznavour has been increasingly involved in French, Armenian, and international politics as his career has progressed. During the 2002 French presidential elections, when radical right-wing nationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen of the National Front made it into the runoff election, facing incumbent Jacques Chirac, Aznavour signed the "Vive la France" petition, and called on all French to "sing the Marseillaise" in protest. Chirac, a personal friend of Aznavour's, ended up winning in a landslide, carrying over 82% of the vote.
He has written a song about the Armenian Genocide, titled Ils sont tombés (known in English as "They fell").
He has also campaigned fervently for international copyright law reform. In November 2005 he met with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso on the issue of the review of term of protection for performers and producers in the EU, advocating an extension of the EU's term of protection from the current 50 years to the United States' law allowing 95 years, saying "[o]n term of protection, artists and record companies are of the same mind. Extension of term of protection would be good for European culture, positive for the European economy and would put an end the current discrimination with the U.S." He has also notably butted heads with French politician Christine Boutin over her defense of a "global license" flat-fee authorization for sharing of copyrighted files over the Internet, claiming that the license would eliminate creativity. In May 2009 the French Senate approved one of the strictest internet anti-piracy bills ever with a landslide 189-14 vote. Aznavour was a vocal proponent of the measure and considered it a rousing victory:
"If the youth can't make a living through creative work, they will do something else and the artistic world will be dealt a blow... There will be no more songs, no more books, nothing at all. So we had to fight", said Aznavour.
Along with holding the mostly ceremonial title of French ambassador-at-large to Armenia, Aznavour agreed to hold the position of Ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland on February 12, 2009:
"First I hesitated, as it is not an easy task. Then I thought that what is important for Armenia is important for us. I have accepted the proposal with love, happiness and feeling of deep dignity", said Aznavour.
Awards and recognition
- 1963, 1971 and 1980 - Edison Awards (three-time awardwinner)
- 1971 - Golden Lion Honorary Award at the Venice Film Festival for the Italian version of the song Mourir d'aimer
- 1995 - Large Medal of French Academy
- 1995 - Ambassador of Goodwill and Permanent Delegate of Armenia to UNESCO
- 1996 - Induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
- 1997 - French Victoire award for Male artist of the year
- 1997 - Honorary César Award
- 1997 - Officier (Officer) of the Legion d'honneur
- 2004 - National Hero of Armenia
- 2006 - Honorary prize at 30th Cairo Film Festival
- 2008 - Honorary Officer of the Order of Canada
- 2008 - Citizenship of the Republic of Armenia
- 2009 - MIDEM Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2009 - Grigor Lusavorich award of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
- 2009 - Officer of the National Order of Quebec
DiscographyMain article: Charles Aznavour discography
- La Guerre des gosses (1936) – Extra
- Adieu chérie (1946) (as Aznavour) – Le duettiste
- Entrez dans la danse (1948)
- Une gosse sensass' (1957) – Le chanteur
- Paris Music Hall (1957) – Charles
- La Tête contre les murs (1959) – Heurtevent
- Les Dragueurs (1959) – Joseph Bouvier
- Pourquoi viens-tu si tard? (1959) – Un danseur
- Oh! Qué mambo (1959) (uncredited) – Un spectateur au cabaret
- Le Testament d'Orphée (1960) (uncredited) – The Curious Man
- Un taxi pour Tobrouk (1960) – Samuel Goldmann
- Tomorrow Is My Turn (Le Passage du Rhin) (1960) – Roger
- Tirez sur le pianiste (1960) – Charlie Kohler/Édouard Saroyan
- Gosse de Paris (1961)
- Les Lions sont lâchés (1961) – Charles, un convive de Marie-Laure
- Esame di guida - tempo di Roma (1962) – Marcello
- Horace 62 (1962) – Horace Fabiani
- Le Diable et les dix commandements (1962) – Denis Mayeux (episode "Homicide point ne seras")
- Les Quatre vérités (1962) – Charles
- Les Vierges (1963) – Berthet
- Cherchez l'Idole (1963) – Aznavour
- Le Rat d'Amérique (1963) – Charles
- Thomas l'imposteur (1964)
- Alta infedeltà (1964) – Giulio (segment "Peccato nel Pomeriggio")
- La Métamorphose des cloportes (1965) – Edmond
- Le Facteur s'en va-t-en guerre (1966) – Thibon
- Paris au mois d'août (1966) – Henri Plantin
- Caroline chérie (1968) – Postillon
- Candy (1968) – Hunchback juggler
- Le Temps des loups (1969) – Inspector
- The Adventurers (1970) – Marcel Campion
- L'Amour (1970) – Le présentateur
- The Games (1970) – Pavel Vendek
- The Selfish Giant (1971) – Narrator (French version)
- Un beau monstre (1971) – Inspector Leroy
- Part des lions (1971) – Éric Chambon
- Les Intrus (1972) – Charles Bernard
- The Blockhouse (1973) – Visconti
- Dix Petits Negres (1974) Dir Peter Colinson, Produit par Gerard Thum
- Ein Unbekannter rechnet ab (1974) – Michel Raven
- Sky Riders (1976) – Insp. Nikolidis
- Folies bourgeoises (1976) – Dr. Lartigue
- Die Blechtrommel (1979) – Sigismund Markus
- Ciao, les mecs (1979) – L'amnésique
- Der Zauberberg (1982) – Naphta
- Qu'est-ce qui fait courir David? (1982) – Léon, le père de David
- Les Fantômes du chapelier (1982) – Kachoudas
- Une jeunesse (1983) – Bellun
- Viva la vie! (1984) – Édouard Takvorian
- Yiddish Connection (1986) – Aaron Rapoport
- Mangeclous (1988) – Jérémie
- Il Maestro (1989) – Romualdi
- Le chinois (1989) – Charles Cotrel
- Charles Aznavour Armenia 1989 (1989)
- Les Années campagne (1992) – Le grand-père/Grandfather
- Pondichéry, dernier comptoir des Indes (1997) – Léo Bauman
- Le Comédien (1997) – Monsieur Maillard
- Laguna (2001)
- Truth About Charlie (2002) – Himself
- Ararat (2002) – Edward Saroyan
- Le Père Goriot (2004) – Jean-Joachim Goriot
- Ennemis publics (2005)
- The Colonel (2006) – Père Rossi
- Up (2009) – Carl Fredricksen (French Voice)
- 1977 Großer Unterhaltungsabend – Charles Aznavour (Essen, Germany 1977). VHS Nikkatsu Video Films Co., Ltd./Japan
- 1982 An Evening with Charles Aznavour (Duke of York's Theatre, London 1982). VIP Videocasette Diffusion, VHS SECAM MU 550
- 1982 An Evening with Charles Aznavour (Duke of York's Theatre, London 1982) [content differs from the video version]
- 1999 Aznavour Live - Palais des Congrès 97/98 (EMI)
- 2001 Aznavour Live - Olympia 68/72/78/80 (EMI)
- 2001 Charles Aznavour au Carnegie Hall (New York, June 1996) (EMI)
- 2001 AZNAVOUR – Pour toi Arménie (At Erevan Opera, September 1996)
- 2002 Patrick Bruel – Entre-Deux (C. Aznavour sings Parlez-moi d'amour [with Patrick Bruel])
- 2003 AZNAVOUR LIVE – Palais des Congrès 1994 (EMI)
- 2004 Aznavour – Minelli au Palais des Congrès de Paris (EMI)
- 2004 Toronto 1980 (as a Bonus to the Aznavour/Indispensables CD Boxset) (EMI)
- 2004 80, Bon Anniversaire Charles – Palais des congrès 2004 (EMI)
- 2004 Bon anniversaire Charles! (TV broadcast concert for Charles Aznavour 80th anniversary, May 22, 2004) (EMI)
- 2005 Charles Aznavour 2000 – Concert intégral (EMI)
- 2006 The Royal Opera – Die Fledermaus (Covent Garden, London 31-12-1983) (C. Aznavour sings She)
- 2007 Charles Aznavour : En concert à Erevan (EMI)
- 2007 Aznavour - Palais des Congrès de Paris (1987) [not the same concert as the CD version] (EMI)
- 2008 Charles Aznavour et ses amis au Palais Garnier (EMI)
- 2009 Anthologie 1955-1972 - 3 DVD Box Set (PAL Only) (INA / EMI)
- 2010 Anthologie volume 2 1973 - 1999 - 3 DVD Box Set (PAL Only) (INA / EMI)
- Charles Aznavour - Armenia 1989, (Armenfilm) 1989 color 10min. 35mm. Director Levon Mkrtchyan. The film is about the humanitarian aid that Charles Aznavour, a famous French singer of Armenian origin, brought to Armenia after the Spitak earthquake in 1988.
- Christmas in Vienna III, A Christmas gala concert live from Vienna on 22 December 1994 with Aznavour, Plácido Domingo and Sissel Kyrkjebø, featuring the Vienna Symphony conducted by famed Croatian conductor Vjekoslav Šutej.
- Making of "Colore ma vie", A making-of featurette released in 2007 coinciding with the release of Aznavour's latest studio album, Colore ma vie. Filmed in Havana and Paris, it shows his collaboration with Chucho Valdez and the thoughts, opinions, and artistry the two put into the album.
- Appeared on The Muppet Show Episode 9. Taping Dates: June 29 - July 1, 1976. Original Airdates: January 17, 1977 (New York) and January 22, 1977 (LA)
- List of best-selling music artists
- Franco-Armenian relations
- Ils Sont Tombés
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- ^ Tableau des équivalences[dead link]
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- ^ Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Switzerland, Portrait de S.E. Charles Aznavour
- ^ Charles Aznavour. Biography
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- ^  The Villager
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- ^ "Bob Dylan interview: Rolling Stone Nov/Dec 1987". Expectingrain.com. 10 December 1995. http://expectingrain.com/dok/int/RS1987.html#ca. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
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- ^ "Write Me A Love Song, Charlie", by Jack Jones, also at Amazon.com
- ^ "Sissel Kyrkjebø (Soprano)". Bach-cantatas.com. http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Bio/Sissel.htm. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
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- ^ Riding, Alan (18 September 2006). "At 82, Charles Aznavour Is Singing a Farewell That Could Last for Years". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/18/arts/music/18azna.html?ex=1167368400&en=5b722c96ea2a5172&ei=5070. "There are some people who grow old and others who just add years. I have added years, but I am not yet old..."
- ^ Charles Aznavour Biography, RFI Musique, February 2007
- ^ Prochain album[dead link]
- ^ "Charles Aznavour pays himself "it all" in his new album". Voir.ca. http://www.voir.ca/blogs/manuel_champagne/archive/2008/10/22/charles-aznavour-se-paie-la-171-totale-187-dans-son-nouvel-album.aspx. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
- ^ Tournée / Sortie CD[dead link]
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- ^ Compiled by Dave Itzkoff (26 December 2008). "Aznavour Granted Armenian Citizenship". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/27/arts/27arts-AZNAVOURGRAN_BRF.html?ref=arts. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
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- Official site
- Charles Aznavour on imusic.am
- "Portrait de S.E. Charles Aznavour" (in French). Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Switzerland. http://www.armenian.ch/index.php?id=ambassador. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
- Charles Aznavour at the Internet Movie Database
- Charles Aznavour at the Songwriters Hall of Fame
- Biography by Radio France International
- Charles Aznavour - Armenian-Russian Pages
- Charles Aznavour - "Ave Maria" performance
- Charles Aznavour - "Hier encore" performance
- Charles Aznavour - "Paris au mois d'août" performance
Awards Preceded by
Maxime Le Forestier
Male artist of the year
at the Victoires de la Musique
Diplomatic posts Preceded by
Permanent Representative of Armenia to the United Nations in Geneva
since 26 June 2009
Incumbent Ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland
since 30 June 2009Categories:
- 1924 births
- Living people
- Ambassadors of Armenia
- Ambassadors to Switzerland
- Charles Aznavour
- English-language singers
- French Armenians
- French film actors
- French-language singers
- French male singers
- French songwriters
- Italian-language singers
- Officers of the Order of Canada
- Officers of the National Order of Quebec
- Officiers of the Légion d'honneur
- Actors from Paris
- Permanent Representatives of Armenia to the United Nations
- Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees
- Spanish-language singers
- National Hero of Armenia
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