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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » P » Piaf, Edith

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Edith Piaf (12/19/1915 - 11/10/1963)

To most ears Edith Piaf is a synonym for French cabaret, although to the more versed she surely had her influences, her audible antecedents (Cora Madou, perhaps—even, to some extent, albeit subconsciously, Lucienne Boyer) insofar as they were “around” during her adolescence. But she remains, nonetheless, an outstandingly individual communicator in her own right, not only because of the directness of her delivery but also because the underlying subjects of so many of her songs—drugs, sex, love, infidelity and death—still speak strongly to modern society, her later efforts especially characterised by that melancholic despondency which prompted Yves Montand to label her ‘marchande de cafard’ (= gloom-and-doom merchant). Yet even in this mode she creates a spontaneity in which the compressed emotion of, say, ‘La vie en rose’ or the gritty resolve of ‘Non, je ne regrette rien’ combine with fragilité, that brittle, often aggressive, essentially French femininity to place her as a great chanteuse-tragédienne in the tradition of her heroine and youthful role-model Maryse Damià (1890-1978).



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