Late Professor Trần Văn Khê, a legendary musicologist, writer and teacher, as well as talented performer of Vietnamese music, devoted his life to introduce Vietnamese music to the world. — Photo courtesy of the HCM City National Museum
HCM CITY — A group of cultural researchers and artists in HCM City plan to launch the Trần Văn Khê Foundation, a non-profit organisation named after late Professor Trần Văn Khê, a legendary musicologist, writer and teacher, as well as talented performer of Vietnamese music.
The foundation will work to encourage and support young musicians and theatre artists in their careers. It will also honour individuals and groups for their contributions to Vietnamese music and theatre, according to journalist Nguyễn Thế Thanh, former deputy director of the HCM City’s Department of Culture and Information.
Thanh and Khê’s friends, such as People’s Artist Kim Cương and musician Huỳnh Khải, have worked with the Văn Lang University of HCM City to open the commemorative house of Khê, located in the university, to display several hundred books, documents, photos, and traditional instruments of Vietnamese music written, collected and stored by the professor.
“Trần Văn Khê Foundation is scheduled to open next year,” said Thanh.
Professor Khê was born in 1921 to a traditional family in Mỹ Tho City in the Cửu Long (Mekong) River Delta Province of Tiền Giang.
He began his love for Vietnamese music when he was a child. He studied playing the đàn kìm (two-stringed guitar) and đàn tranh (Vietnamese zither) with his father while at school.
In 1949, he was sent to study in France. He lived in Paris for more than 50 years and worked to expand Vietnamese music through his performances and talks.
He received a doctoral degree in musicology at Sorbonne University in Paris in 1958. He later became a professor who taught traditional music at the university.
He was an honorary member of the International Music Council (IMC), founded in 1949 by UNESCO, and a member of the European Academy of the Sciences, Letters and Arts.
He was also involved in researching and writing about Vietnamese music to promote and honour his native country’s music to the world.
Khê received many top prizes and medals from international organisations for his contributions to music.
In 2005, he returned to live in HCM City. All the documents and books on traditional music that he collected were packed in 460 parcels and shipped from France to Việt Nam. They are stored at libraries and museums in HCM City. — VNS