Monday, October 24 2016


‘Golden Bird' finds his final autumn

Update: July, 03/2015 - 09:54

King of poems: Phan Huynh Dieu possessed a shelf of hundreds of poetry books by world writers. — Photo

HA NOI (VNS) — Composer Phan Huynh Dieu, who was known as the "Golden bird of Vietnamese music," died on Monday but his influential melodies will always be remembered by Vietnamese music fans.

Born in 1924 in Da Nang, Dieu worked for 70 years as a composer. He has left behind a huge treasury of more than 100 songs, most of which have been set to music from popular poems.

In 2000, he was awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize in Literature and Arts, the highest prize of its kind in Viet Nam.

Dieu composed his first song, entitled Trau Cau (Areca Nut and Betel), at the age of 18.

He was in his early 20s in 1945, when the historic August Revolution took place. He referred to the event as "an autumn of changing leaves and blooming flowers throughout the country; a changing season for millions of people."

He used to say that if there had been no such autumn, there might not have been a composer called Phan Huynh Dieu, but a "pure secretary of some company or an ordinary engineer".

"It is certain that I might have become a composer if the Party had not led the nation's liberating revolution," he used to say.

That's the reason why many people know him as the composer of wonderful revolution songs such as Doan Giai Phong Quan (Liberation Troop), Mua Dong Binh Si (Soldiers in Winter), Ra Tien Tuyen (Marching to the Front), and Cuoc Doi Van Dep Sao (What a Beautiful Life!), as well as Hanh Khuc Ngay Va Dem (Day and Night Marching Song), which are about patriotism and sacrifice.

"The words of his songs seemed to echo for a long time in young soldiers' minds as a vow to follow the revolution leaders," 80-year-old Nguyen Van Huyet, who joined the anti-French rebels in the mid-1950s in the Dien Bien Phu battle, said.

"I remember the feelings. My blood seemed to run faster inside my veins when I hummed that song during the battles against the French in Dien Bien Phu."

Dieu, who never took a music course, earned the title of ‘composer' with the song Doan Giai Phong Quan. He received a sum of money for the song's copyright, which he spent on the first guitar that belonged to Emperor Bao Dai, the last king of Viet Nam.

Dieu was considered a "king" who could set poems to music. "Poetry and music are twins. I love poems as much as songs," he used to say.

In front of his working desk was a shelf that had hundreds of poetry books by writers such as Vladimir Vladimirovich Maya-kovsky (Russia, 1893-1930), Pablo Neruda (Spain, 1904-1973), Rabindranath Tagore (India, 1861-1941) and Vietnamese poets Ngoc Anh (1934-1965) and Xuan Quynh (1942-1988).

In 1946, he released his first song based on a poem by Te Hanh, entitled Nhung Nguoi Da Chet (Dead People). His second song, Mua (Rain), was based on a poem by Huy Can and was composed in 1949. Niether song became very popular.

In 1971, the song Bong Cay Konia (Shadow of Konia Tree), based on a poem by Ngoc Anh, was a great success. Then came the song Cuoc Doi Van Dep Sao (What a Beautiful Life!) from a poem by Duong Huong Ly, which scored high with famous composers. These two successful songs were a powerful force behind several of his later songs.

"Dieu gave wings to Tho Tinh Cuoi Mua Thu (Love Poem for End of Autumn) by noted poet Xuan Quynh with his beautiful melodies," Thu Minh, one of Dieu's fans, said. — VNS

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