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Veteran composer Nguyen Van Ty dies at 94

Veteran musician and literary and arts legend Nguyen Van Ty, a member of Vietnam Musicians’ Association, passed away on December 27 afternoon in HCM City after a long illness at the age of 94.

He was born into a musical family in the central province of Nghe An. His father was a leader of phuong bat am (eight-instrument band) and was known for his mastery of many genres of folk music such as ca tru (ceremonial singing) and cheo (popular opera).

He received his education at the National School of Vinh, where he distinguished himself through his singing and acting skills.

He became a musician thanks to his father, his French teacher, a Spanish priest and a Chinese guitarist.

“My father was my teacher and shared with me musical knowledge and professional experiences in my early career,” said musician Nguyen Van Hien.

“He was erudite, open-hearted and enthusiastic and ready to help young students.”
Veteran singer Anh Tuyet was stunned to hear of the death of the musician, who she had been close to since 1978. She recalls singing the musician’s song Me Yeu Con (I Love You) at a concert to mark the 35th anniversary of her career.

The song Me Yeu Con was composed in 1956. It is a popular song that has become a symbol of maternal love.

The composer used the northern area’s lullabies and emotional lyrics to compose a song that is held dear by many Vietnamese mothers.

“When I sang half of the song the musician came up on stage and said ‘it is to lull a child’. That was how he always encouraged and supported young artists.”

His death is a great loss to Vietnamese music, according to musician Nguyen Quang Vinh, Permanent Vice Chairman of HCM Musicians’ Association.

“He spent his life to music development, with many works,” Vinh said. “He has so many works that younger generations have to learn from and follow.”

He made great contributions to Vietnamese music development. His works were a combination of his experiences from field trips and folk music material featuring romantic lyrics and smooth melodies.

Over the decades, many of his songs are still popular, including Me Yeu Con; Du Am (Echoes of Memories) and Dang Dung Ben Tre (The Image of Ben Tre’s Girl).

The song Du Am was composed when he was inspired by a young girl. In 1949, he visited his friend's home in Quynh Luu district and met the 16-year old girl. The musician was mesmerised and deeply smitten.

The timeless song is a central part of Vietnamese modern music. He also wrote songs for children, including Mau Ao Chu Bo Doi (Colour of Soldier's Uniform).

At the end of 1957, he and others including Nguyen Xuan Khoat, Do Nhuan and Van Cao were asked to set up the Vietnam Musicians' Association. He received the Ho Chí Minh Prize for literature and arts in 2000.

The funeral ceremony will be held at HCM City Funeral House on Le Quy Don street, District 3, on December 29.