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11/10/2021 - 07:29

Composer Pham Duy and Hue

During his lifetime, composer Pham Duy had many predestined relationships with Hue. Attached to this land from a young age, he was fascinated by the beauty of nature and people here and composed many musical works for Hue.

Composer Pham Duy in one of his music programs in Hue

In late 2010, on the occasion of composer Pham Duy's trip to Hue to introduce his CDs “Hen ho” and “Mo giac mong dai”, he had a meeting with former female students of Dong Khanh High School (now is Hai Ba Trung High School) and some prominent Hue intellectuals and figures. The small house of Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan on Bach Dang Street greeted him with a friendly welcome, warm handshakes, and delicious Hue dishes.

Sitting among friends, listening to the female students of Dong Khanh School in the past singing their music, composer Pham Duy was very happy. At the age of 90, love was still passionate in his soul: his love for life, for his homeland, and music.   

At that time, he shared: “Being able to return to my hometown, meeting relatives and friends, interacting with future generations, I felt like I was reliving my youth. Now I feel very contented because I am a lucky person as I am still composing at this age, and still able to capture all human emotions to compose songs about love."

During a visit to Hue in 2012, the composer said that he had been to Hue many times and had many memories of Hue. On his first visit in 1944 as a singer in Duc Huy Charlot Mieu troupe, he used to sleep on the boat and listen to tunes of Hue Singing. He felt very interesting to find Hue’s musical tonality with a slight accent.  

Later on, many of his songs were influenced by this tonality. “When I was young, I remembered everything each time I came here. I love the scenery, the people here, and the traditional music of Hue. I still consider Hue the cradle of traditional music,” said the composer.

The Researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan, Chairman of Hue Cultural Heritage Research and Development Association, said that composer Pham Duy had come to Hue many times and left behind for the Vietnamese modern music collection many precious works written in Hue and about Hue, such as: Khoi tinh Truong Chi (1946), Bao gio anh lay duoc don Tay, Ba me Gio Linh, Ve mien Trung (1948), Toi con yeu toi cu yeu (1965)…

He applied the pentatonic scale with the slight accent of Hue traditional music to many stanzas in the epic Con duong cai quan, the epic Vietnamese mother, in which the epic Nuoc non ngan dam ra di  is the most famous. Pham Duy also wrote the melody for Han Mac Tu's poem Day thon Vy Da and the melodies for 10 poems by Bich Khe into a collection called “Dị khúc” which included the song Hue da tinh.  

Towards the end of the composer’s life, his musical activities also took place on the stages in Hue. The exemplary programs include: Ngay tro ve, Toi yeu tieng nuoc toi, the prelude to The Epic of Han Mac Tu.

The composer returned to Hue not only for musical activities but also for a re-visit to sites that hold a special place in his heart. He once said: "My stomach is in Saigon, my head is always thinking of Hanoi and my heart resides in Hue".

The book is divided into two parts: “Voi nguoi tinh cua song Huong” and “Loi mai day cao ngut Truong Son” which include articles about composer Pham Duy's attachment to Hue, his unforgettable memories, his love with a Dong Khanh schoolgirl, and the affection of the Hue people for him and his music, as well as the composer’s contributions to Vietnamese music.

According to Nguyen Dac Xuan, Pham Duy was not only a composer but also a researcher of Vietnamese traditional music. He wrote like a writer; his lyrics are beautiful and profound like poetry. He was also a poetry critic. The composer had commented on 10 poems of the poet Bich Khe before setting them into the song collection "Di khuc".

In memory of composer Pham Duy, who devoted much love to Hue; and in gratitude for the musical heritage he wrote for Hue, the Hue Cultural Heritage Research & Development Association and Hue Academy of Music jointly organized the program "Composer Pham Duy and Hue" on the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Taking place on the afternoon of October 5 at Hue Academy of Music, the program would introduce composer Pham Duy's attachment to Hue as well as his music written for this land. The book "Nhac si Pham Duy biet ai tinh o dong song Huong" (Composer Pham Duy understands the love at the Huong River) by the researcher Nguyen Dac Xuan is also released on this occasion.

Story and photo: Minh Hien

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