Composer Phong Nha, whose children's songs were popular among many generations of Vietnamese children, died this morning (March 30) due to old age. He was 96.
Composer Phong Nhã plays the piano for children to sing. Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
This is a great loss to Vietnamese music, especially for children as he was considered the “king of children’s songs”.
Phong Nhã, who was born Nguyễn Văn Tường in 1924 in Duy Tiên District, Hà Nam Province, was part of a musical family, and his father and uncle both played traditional instruments.
Following in their footsteps, he learned by himself to play the đàn tranh (36-string zither), flute, and nhị (two-chord fiddle) during his childhood.
He was part of various youth movements in the 1940s before focusing on children’s music.
His first song was Nhanh Bước Nhanh Nhi Đồng (Children, March Quickly), followed by Kim Đồng (Junior Hero Kim Đồng). Both songs remain popular among children today.
When he became famous, his friend composers Văn Ký and Vũ Tự Lân taught him professional music.
During his career, Phong Nhã composed 250 songs, most of which described the revolutionary spirit of Vietnamese children through generations like Anh Còn Sống Mãi (Hero Remains Alive), Cùng Nhau Ta Đi Lên (We Move Forward Together), and Lê Văn Tám (Junior Hero Lê Văn Tám).
His most famous song is Ai Yêu Bác Hồ Chí Minh Hơn Thiếu Niên Nhi Đồng (Who Loves Uncle Hồ Chí Minh More Than Children) composed in 1945, which describes children’s adoration for President Hồ using simple and sincere lyrics.
It was the third song he composed and the first for children.
In the year 2000, four of his songs were chosen among the top 50 children's songs of the 20th century.
They include Ai Yêu Bác Hồ Chí Minh Hơn Thiếu Niên Nhi Đồng, Hành Khúc Đội (Song of Hồ Chí Minh Young Pioneer Association), Kim Đồng and Đội Ta Lớn Lên Cùng Đất Nước (Our Pioneer Association Grows with the Country).
He received the State Prize in Literature and Arts in 1996; the Hồ Chí Minh Prize in Literature and Arts in 2001 (the highest of its kind), the Second Class Resistance against the French Medal, the First Class Resistance against the American Medal, For the Sake of Music Career Medal and a 60-Year Party Member Badge.
He was the founder and the first editor-in-chief of Thiếu Niên Tiền Phong (Junior Pioneer) newspaper.
His funeral ceremony will take place from 7.15- 9am, March 31 at Thanh Nhàn Funeral House on Hai Bà Trưng District, Hà Nội. —VNS