In Memoriam: Charles Aznavour (1924-2018)

It is rare, indeed, to be able to state that an individual’s life had a genuine, beneficial impact on the entire world.

But in the case of Charles Aznavour—who passed away this week after a long lifetime of compassionate outreach—it was an assertion that could be made with supreme confidence.

Every Armenian knew Aznavour as one of the great creative figures of the 20th century: an icon of music as a performer, composer, and lyricist. We knew him as the disciple of Edith Piaf, who became himself the apostle of French chanson, recognized and loved around the globe.

We knew him as the brilliant actor who could portray the essence of humanity to a universal audience. We knew him as an artist of great range and deep sensitivity, utterly original and distinctive, revered by people from all walks of life, in every nation on earth.

Simply on the strength of his artistic achievement, Charles Aznavour deserved all the world’s accolades.

But after mounting to the very summit of artistic achievement, Aznavour showed us yet another aspect of his creative soul, which would ensure his eternal reputation as a great humanitarian.

In response to a great calamity in the land of his heritage—the 1988 earthquake in Armenia—Charles Aznavour launched an international effort to bring relief and comfort to his beleaguered countrymen. As Armenia emerged from the disaster into a new dawn of freedom and independence, Charles came to symbolize the spirit of new hope which Armenians around the world felt towards their homeland.

For the remainder of his life, through his Aznavour Pour L’Armenie Foundation, Aznavour proved himself a leader in the mission to help build our young republic. Out of his deep humanity, he reached out to Armenia’s most vulnerable people, offering them the seeds for a better life.

The Eastern Diocese’s Fund for Armenian Relief was privileged to collaborate with Charles Aznavour on several projects, and was blessed to share his lofty vision for the future.

In recent years, the worldwide Armenian community found many opportunities to thank Mr. Aznavour for the inspiration he gave us, in his indispensable roles as artist, diplomat, and humanitarian. But this week, as news of his passing made its way into the public arena, it has been especially touching to witness the reaction of men and women around the world, from every station of life, who have expressed their regret at his death, and their feelings of love and esteem for his life.

May our Lord remember his servant, Charles Aznavour; and grant all of us who admired Charles many occasions to remember his sweet voice and lofty spirit.


Photo by Getty images.

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