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Jacques Brel - All about the musician

Decades later, the music of this man has not lost its popularity. Brel's albums continued to sell 200,000 copies a year worldwide! And his melancholic composition "Amsterdam", which tells about the life of sailors on the shore in Amsterdam, has become a cult anthem!

A complete biography of the French-speaking bard Jacques Brel ...

Jacques Brel is a Belgian French-speaking poet, bard, actor and director. Not infrequently, he is called the "father of French chanson" ... Brel was born in Brussels, although he spent most of his life in the legendary city of love, Paris! He died of lung cancer in the suburbs of Paris, and his name is forever imprinted in history as the name of one of the best French composers...

We propose to learn the history of this unique person in today's article ...

Childhood and youth

Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel

Jacques Brel was born in 1929 in the town of Schaerbeek, Brussels, into a wealthy bourgeois family. His parents - Elisabeth and Romain Brel - loved the boy very much and from an early age tried to provide him with everything he needed ... Jacques' father was an employee in an import-export company, and later a co-director of a cardboard company.

Jacques' childhood was peaceful and carefree: he attended the prestigious École Saint-Viateur Catholic school, and was also a member of the local scout troop.

Jacques' gift for writing began to break out even in childhood... The boy read and wrote a lot, excelled in history and French... At the same time, Brel had a clear underachievement in other school subjects.

As a teenager, Jacques composed not only stories, but also complex poems and even essays ... The guy also loved music, finding a lot of inspiration and beauty in it ... At the age of 15, Jacques learned to play the guitar, and very soon he made his own theater group with his schoolmates where he began to write his first plays. As far as education is concerned, it has come to naught. Jacques successfully failed all the exams ... However, it was worth it! After all, he had a dazzling career ahead of him ...

Getting started

Jacques Brel
Jacques Brel

Brel's first foray into the world of performance came with a Catholic-humanist youth group called Franche Cordée, in which he sang and played. Soon, Jacques had a thirst for fame, so he quit his job and moved to Paris.

Already by 1952, Brel performed in various cabarets and music halls throughout the city, performing soulful compositions of his own composition! And although relatives of Jacques considered his passion frivolous, the young poet himself stubbornly continued to trample his way to fame ...

In 1955, Jacques released his debut studio album Grand Jacques. In the same period, the popularity of the performer-musician takes on clearer contours, especially if we talk about the influence of Jacques on France and French-speaking European countries...

Real success with "Quand on n'a que l'amour"

The first real success hit Jacques in 1957, after the release of his second album "Quand on n'a que l'amour"! Subsequently, in the homeland of Brel, this disc became gold, and its sales exceeded 25,000 copies ... The single of the same name from the album brought Jacques the Académie Charles Cros award, and also became a favorite object for performance among a number of famous artists: Dalida, Celine Dion, Lara Fabian, Patricia Kaas...

After the success of his fourth album, La valse à mille temps, Brel toured the country extensively. By the end of the decade, Jacques was famous for being a superstar ...

Musical style and main anthems…

By the end of the 1950s, Brel's musical style had undergone visible changes. Influenced by pianists such as Gerard Jouannest and François Rauber, Jacques' music took on a more melancholy character... Speaking of lyrics, he began to deal with more complex themes of life and death, both from a spiritual and psychological point of view. The poet often resorted to metaphors in his texts, giving social comments and often raising such sensitive issues as the obsession of the middle class with material goods, the availability of women, addiction to drugs ... It was the songs "L'ivrogne", "Jef" and "La chanson de Jacky and expose such a vicious and such a criminal social world.

One of Brel's most famous and well-received recordings, "Amsterdam" is a dark tribute to the miserable lives of sailors...

And songs like "Le Bon Dieu", "Dites Si C'Était Vrai" and "Fernand" explore more spiritual themes.

Sometimes Brel also recorded Flemish versions of songs, for example: "Le Plat Pays", "Les Bourgeois" and "Les paunés du petit matin", released on the sixth album "Les Bourgeois" (1962).

By the way: these translations were often interpreted by the Dutch poet, writer and translator Ernst Rudolf van Altena.

New successes, acting career ...

In 1965, celebrating the twelfth anniversary of his music business, Brel performed in a famous cabaret in Paris called Les Trois Baudets! At the end of the same year, after a long tour of Russia, the bard was invited to perform on the stage of the majestic Carnegie Hall ... The cherished dream of every musician!

Jacques Brel...
Jacques Brel...

In early 1967, Jacques Brel performed at the second and, unfortunately, the last time at Carnegie Hall ... During his stay in New York, Jacques managed to go to the musical L'Homme de la Mancha, inspired by the legendary novel Don Quixote ". This fascinated the bard so much that he immediately decided to recreate the musical for the European public!

In the spring of 1967, Jacques gave his last concert in the French town of Roubaix, after which he turned to acting ... True, Jacques' first role was the role of Don Quixote himself in his own version of L'Homme de la Mancha, which he himself completely translated and directed ! Jacques thoroughly prepared for the production, and therefore even specially wrote the accompanying soundtrack! The song was later released...

In the late 1960s, Jacques, along with actress Claude Jade, starred in a French comedy called My Uncle Benjamin. And in 1973, Brel became a co-writer, director and actor for the comedy tape "Wild West"! After being shown at the Cannes Film Festival, the comedy was announced as a nominee for the Palme d'Or! In the same year, the poet planned a huge trip around the world on a yacht ...

Personal life

In 1950, Jacques proposed to Thérèse Michilsen, to which she agreed. Soon the couple had children - three girls.

However, in 1972, Brel became close to actress Madeley Bami. A stormy romance began between them, which lasted until the death of the artist ...

Last years of life…

Jacques Brel...
Jacques Brel…

In 1973, Jacques finds out that he is terminally ill... Doctors diagnosed the musician with a terrible diagnosis: advanced lung cancer. Soon, Jacques decides to make the most of his remaining years...

Soon Brel began to travel, spending almost all his time sailing! Despite feeling unwell, Jacques traveled to the Marquesas and then returned to Paris to record his final album Les Marquises. The album was a huge success! It included a political satire called "Les F...", which was blacklisted by Flemish radio as a result. But Jacques didn't care anymore. He continued to fly to his favorite islands until he was taken to the hospital in July 1978.

On October 9, Jacques Brel passed away. Subsequently, the musician was buried in the Marquesas Islands, which he loved ...

But even decades later, the music of this man has not lost its popularity. Brel's albums continued to sell 200,000 copies a year worldwide! And his melancholic composition "Amsterdam", which tells about the life of sailors on the shore in Amsterdam, has become a cult anthem!

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