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The Nobel-winning German writer whose brother saved the French chanson

In Paris this week working on a forthcoming BBC documentary about Barbara, I was interviewing Barbara’s manager Charley Marouani (who has never talked about her before) when he mentioned a name I had only ever heard before in a literary context.


Elias? I prompted, thinking of the author of Auto-da-fe.

No, Nissim, known as Jacques, his brother. ‘Without Jacques,’ said Charley, ‘there would be no French chanson’.

Jacques Canetti, who died in 1990, had a club called les Trois Baudets, where the likes of Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Serge Gainsbourg, Anne Sylvestre and many others got their first date. He went on the become head of productions at Polydor and Philips, fostering not just the singers but their entire genre, Barbara included.

Unknown outside France, he wrote a memoir On cherche jeune homme aimant la musique1978, Editions Calmann-Lévy, Paris, that I have just ordered.

Charley Marouani, who is 85, is also about to publish his memoirs, Une Vie en Coulisses (Fayard). Theirs was a respectful métier.

Une vie en coulisses

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