Canadian singer-songwriter Raymond Levesque, whose 1956 classic “Quand les hommes vivront d’amour” was an international hit, has died at the age of 92 after contracting Covid-19, Canadian media reported Monday.
Poet, novelist, playwright and actor, Levesque composed hundreds of songs that became part of the fabric of Quebec’s cultural life.
His best-known work remains the pacifist hymn “Quand les hommes vivront d’amour” (“When Men Live by Love”), which was written partly in reaction to the Algerian war that France was waging at the time, and which has been covered by a variety of Canadian and French singers including Celine Dion and Eddie Constantine.
“All my condolences to the family and loved ones of the great Quebecer Raymond Levesque, author of one of the most beautiful songs of all time,” Quebec Prime Minister Francois Legault said on Twitter.
Levesque had been committed to the idea of independence for Quebec and refused the Governor General’s Award when it was offered to him in 2005 because it represented the British monarchy in Canada.
After going deaf in the mid-1980s, he devoted himself to writing, particularly poetry and theater. He was hospitalized in Montreal after contracting Covid-19 and died Monday, according to his family, quoted by the media.
Steven Guilbeault, the federal heritage minister, praised a “giant of the Quebec artistic scene.”
“Raymond Levesque is leaving us, but his hymn to peace will continue to awaken what is most beautiful in everyone’s heart,” he said on Twitter.