Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Popular poet and composer Nguyễn Trọng Tạo passed away on January 7 after dealing with a lengthy and serious illness. He was 71.
Born in 1947 in Diễn Châu, the central province of Nghệ An, he joined the army in 1969. In 1976, he was sent to Hà Nội to join a writing camp hosted by the army and study at Nguyễn Du Writing School.
From 2000 to 2005, he worked as a member of the Poetry Council at the Việt Nam Writers’ Association. Between 2003 and 2004, he worked as the head of the Poetry Editorial Board of Văn Nghệ Việt Nam (Việt Nam Literature and Arts) newspaper.
Tạo proved to be a talented artist. He showed his ability in literature with dozens of poetry collections, epics, prose collections and essays. He also composed various historical songs, which have been performed widely, and created many paintings.
He is the author of over 400 poems, which have been printed in collections like Gửi Người Không Quen (To the Stranger) and Sóng Thủy Tinh (Crystal Waves). Many of his poems have been made into popular songs like Một Dại Khờ Một Tôi (A Fool as I’m) by noted composer Phú Quang and Cỏ và Mưa (Grass and Rain) by Giáng Son.
He also composed nearly 100 songs. Music fans of various ages in Việt Nam will never forget his melodies and meaningful songs like Làng Quan Họ Quê Tôi (My Homeland – Village of Love Duet Singing) based on a poem by Nguyễn Phan Hách; Khúc Hát Sông Quê (Song of Homeland River) based on a poem by Lê Huy Mậu and Đôi Mắt Đò Ngang (A Floating Boat), for which he also wrote the lyrics.
He received various prestigious national literature and arts prizes including the Poetry Prize by Văn Nghệ newspaper and the Literature and Arts Prize from Huế.
In 2012, Tạo was awarded the State Prize in Literature for his poetry works Đồng Dao Cho Người Lớn (Folk Songs for Adults) and Con Đường Của Những Vì Sao (Stars’ Way).
At the end of 2017, Tạo was sent to the hospital following a stroke. After 21 days in treatment, he recovered. Few months later, he organised a live show titled Khúc Hát Sông Quê, gathering thousands of audience.
His health worsened ever since. Last April, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“Tạo has a miracle feeling for music,” noted writer Đỗ Phấn, one of Tạo’s friends. “He composed songs based on folk melodies. His most popular song Làng Quan Họ Quê Tôi is based on Bắc Ninh’s love duet folk songs.
“The Bắc Ninh folk songs have nothing to do with the folk melodies of Nghệ Tĩnh (his homeland),” Phấn said. “But his song has been very successful, loved by many Vietnamese people.” — VNS