Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and French President Emmanuel Macron have led a memorial service for Charles Aznavour in the famed Armenian-French singer-songwriter’s native Paris.
click for video
Aznavour, who died on October 1 at the age of 94, was commemorated in the courtyard of Les Invalides, a complex of buildings and monuments related to French military history.
Charles Aznavour looks on at a press conference for his upcoming concert in Moscow in October 2014.
The ceremony at Les Invalides began with Aznavour’s coffin, draped in the French tricolor flag, being carried into the cobbled courtyard while a mournful Armenian tune was played on a traditional dudek flute.
Macron said the singer had shown “loyalty to his roots” by throwing himself into helping Armenia recover from a devastating earthquake in 1988 and becoming an ambassador for the country to the United Nations.
Aznavour “carried the scar of the genocide of his people” in his heart and for that reason knew suffering, Macron said, adding that “for millions his songs were a balm, a comfort and a cure.”
Macron earlier this week described Aznavour as “profoundly French, attached viscerally to his Armenian roots, and celebrated around the world.”
Pashinian, who had called the singer a “national hero,” said “every Armenian thinks of him as a kind of parent who has carried our name to the world and given Armenians a new pride.”
“A free and happy Armenia will be our response to the work you did for the Armenian people,” said Pashinian, who came to power after leading protests against the long-entrenched leadership of the former Soviet republic.
“I bow before you — a great Frenchman, a great Armenian, a great artist, and a great humanist,” he said. “Rest in peace, dear master.”
After a moment of silence, Aznavour’s coffin was carried out of the Invalides to the strain of one of his most famous songs, Emmenez-moi (Carry Me Away).
The French son of Armenian immigrants, Aznavour composed some 1,300 songs during his seven-decade career and sold more than 100 million records in 80 countries.
He was sometimes called the French Frank Sinatra.
He first started singing at the age of 9 in his parents’ Armenian restaurant in Paris.
Aznavour will be buried in a private ceremony on October 6 in accordance with his family’s wishes, French newspaper Le Monde reported.