10 Famous Vietnamese Musicians in the 20th Century

Many famous Vietnamese musicians come with resistance to war, fierce battles, and normal life. They composed plenty of songs to encourage the spirits of soldiers and workers, who protected and built the fatherland.

Here are the top musicians in Vietnam whose songs are famous to most people!

1. Trinh Cong Son Musican

trinh cong son musician
Trinh Cong Son Musician. Photo: Bao Hanoimoi

Trinh Cong Son (February 28, 1939 – April 1, 2001) was born in Minh Huong village, Huong Tra district, Thua Thien Hue province, Vietnam. Trinh Cong Son is one of the greatest composers of modern Vietnamese music of the 20th century.

During his musical career, he composed over 600 works, mostly love songs. Many of his songs contained anti-war messages during the Vietnam War. They were, therefore, banned and restricted by both North and South Vietnam during that time.

Many singers have performed Trinh Cong Son’s, but the most successful is Khanh Ly. In addition, he is also considered a poet and an amateur painter.

Some of Trinh Cong Son’s songs came to the Japanese public in 1970 such as Diem Xua, performed by Khanh Ly in both Japanese and Vietnamese, Ca Dao Me (Mother’s Song), and Ngu di con (Sleeping!).

Khanh Ly sings Dau Chan Dia Dang (Heaven’s Footprints) of Trinh Cong Son.

Before April 30, 1975, on Saigon radio, he sang the song Noi Vong Tay Lon (Joining Big Arms) – a song about his dream of national reunification between the North and the South that he wrote in 1968. This song is well-known for most Vietnamese people, and in almost all public activities of the youth, this song comes over.

In the years after 1975, concentrating on labor, he worked at the Ho Chi Minh City Music Association and the Song Nhac magazine. Since the 1980s, Trinh Cong Son had started composing again, and he had written several songs praising the new life, such as Thanh Pho Mua Xuan (Spring City), Em O Nong Truong – Em Ra Bien Gioi (You’re at the Farm and you’ve gone to the border), Huyen Thoai Me (The Legend of Mother).

Later, the Vietnamese government loosened the management of the arts, and he continued to contribute many valuable love songs, which still live in the music life in the country.

>>> You may want to see the famous painters in Vietnam.

2. Van Cao Musician

van cao composer
Van Cao Composer. Photo: Bao dien tu Dan Sinh

Van Cao Musician (1923-1995) is a legendary musician from Vietnam. He is the author of the song Tien Quan Ca – the national anthem of Vietnam. Besides being a musician, Van Cao is also a painter and poet with many valuable works.

Belonging to a generation of pioneering musicians, Van Cao composed romantic songs Ben Xuan (Spring Wharf), Suoi Mo (Dreamy Stream), etc., which left a mark on the history of modern music in Vietnam.

After joining the Viet Minh, Van Cao wrote Tien Quan Ca, Truong Ca Song Lo (Lo River Long Song), Tien Ve Hanoi (Going to Hanoi), etc., becoming a typical musician of the resistance music genre.

In addition, he also has several famous literary works such as One Night in Hanoi, Leaves, Forest Road, and Ai Ve Kinh Bac (Who Back The North).

Some Love Songs of Van Cao.

In 1996, Van Cao was awarded the Ho Chi Minh Prize in the first round of awards. He was also awarded by the government for many medals, including the First-class Resistance Medal, the Third-class Independence Medal, and the Ho Chi Minh First-class Medal.

With his great contributions to the country, the late musician Van Cao deserves everyone’s affection.

3. An Thuyen Musician

an thuyen musician
An Thuyen Musician. Photo: laodong.vn

Musician An Thuyen (1949-2015), full name is Nguyen An Thuyen, was born in Quynh Luu District, Nghe An Province, Vietnam. He is a famous musician, former Rector of the Military Art and Culture University; Standing Vice President of the Vietnam Musicians Association, term VII. An Thuyen is also a Major General of the Vietnam People’s Army.

An Thuyen composed songs quite regularly, famous works must be mentioned such as Đêm Nghe Hát Đò Đưa Nhớ Bác (Night listening to singing boats to remember Uncle Ho), Hành Quân Lên Tây Bắc (Marching to the Northwest), Huế Thương (Lovely Hue), Neo Đậu Bến Quê (Anchor at the countryside), Ca Dao Em Và Tôi (Folk Song You and Me)… In addition, An Thuyen also wrote many plays for the literary troupe such as Trương Chi, and Biển Tình Đắng cay (​​Bitter Love).

Many of his songs carry the style of folk music with a soft rhythm, upgrading the traditional folk music of Vietnam to a new level. From the young to the old people in Vietnam love his songs because of their smooth and sweet lyrics. Typically, the singer Quang Linh, who is a Hue person, sings the songs of An Thuyen very well.

Quang Linh sings Ca Dao Em Va Toi ((Folk Song You and Me) of An Thuyen.

For this valuable contributions, An Thuyen musician has won some typical awards, such as the Second Prize of the Vietnam Musicians Association with Chín Bậc Tình Yêu (Nine Levels of Love) (1992), and the State Prize for Literature and Art in 2007.

4. Do Nhuan Musician

do nhuan composer
Do Nhuan Composer (on the right) with his son. Photo: suckhoedoisong.vn

Musician Do Nhuan (1922 – 1991), born in Hai Duong, is one of the pioneer composers of revolutionary music and is considered a big tree of Vietnamese music. He was the first General Secretary of the Vietnam Composers Association, courses I and II, from 1958 to 1983.

Do Nhuan was also the first Vietnamese musician to write opera with the play Cô Sao, and the author of the famous song Du Kích Sông Thao (Guerrilla on the Thao River).

Do Nhuan’s inspiration for composing started from his hometown and family, which has a tradition of Cheo singing – one of the traditional music in Vietnam. From the age of 14, he studied music and knew how to play several instruments.

Mentioning Do Nhuan is remembering a talented musician with successful musical works such as Côn Đảo (Con Island), Chiến Thắng Điện Biên (Victory of Dien Bien), Việt Nam Quê Hương Tôi (Vietnam My Homeland), or plays like Cô Sao (Ms. Star), and Người Tạc Tượng (Sculptor).

Trong Tan sings Vietnam My Homeland of Do Nhuan.

He was also awarded many awards, including the Second-class Independence Medal, Second-class Soldier Medal, and Second-class Victory Medal. Also, he was one of the first 5 people awarded the Award Ho Chi Minh.

5. Pham Tuyen Musician

pham tuyen musician
Pham Tuyen Musician. Photo: Bao Hanoimoi

Musician Pham Tuyen was born in 1930 in Hai Duong. He is famous for his great children’s songs, such as Như Có Bác Hồ Trong Ngày Vui Đại Thắn (As Uncle Ho on the Great Day of Victory), Chiếc Đèn Ông Sao (The Star Lamp), Tiến Lên Đoàn Viên (The Youth Goes), Cô và Mẹ (Teacher and Mother), etc.

He is also famous for his songs before independent country, telling the real-life of that time, such as Bài Ca Người Thợ Mỏ (The Miner’s Song), Chiếc Gậy Trường Sơn (Sticks on the Truong Son Range), Yêu Biết Mấy Những Con Đường (Loving the Roads), Cây Gậy Trường Sơn (The Truong Son Stick), and after the reunification of 1975, such as Gửi Nắng Cho Em (Sending the Sun to You), and Con Kênh Ta Đào (The Canal We Dig).

Sending the Sun to You.

Pham Tuyen also writes songs for magazines, radio, and television. He was the former Chairman of the Hanoi Music Association and Standing Member of the Executive Committee of the Vietnam Musicians Association from 1963 to 1983.

His compositions are often cheerful, heroic, and youthful, which makes plenty of audiences receive well. In 2001, Pham Tuyen musician was awarded the State Prize for literature and art, and then, in 2012, the State of Vietnam awarded him the Ho Chi Minh Prize for the fourth time for literature and art.

6. Luu Huu Phuoc Musician

luu huu phuoc musician
Luu Huu Phuoc Musician. Photo: Tinh Kim Vinh/laodong.vn

Luu Huu Phuoc (1921-1989) was a musician from Hau Giang Province in the Mekong Delta. He also has other pen names, such as Huynh Minh Sieng, Long Hung, Anh Luu, and Hong Chi.

Luu Huu Phuoc is considered one of the pioneer musicians in modern Vietnamese musicians, representing Southern music at the beginning of the new music scene.

His forte is epic, liberating songs; his works are often associated with important historical events of the nation, such as Non Sông Gấm Vóc (The National Landscape), Bạch Đằng Giang (Bach Dang River), and Ải Chi Lăng.

In addition, he also composed telling songs (Tuy Luy, Con Tho Ngoc (Jade Rabbit), Diet Soi Lang (Killing Wolf), Dien Hong Conference), opera (Lotus Flower, Destroying the Scarecrow), dance plays Hai Hoa Dang Bac (Picking flowers for Uncle Ho).

Tien Ve Saigon (Going to Saigon)

Huu Phuoc is also a Professor, Academician, Music Theoretician; former Minister of Information and Culture of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam; Former Member of the National Assembly, Chairman of the Culture and Education Committee of the National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

With his contribution, a high school in Can Tho was named Luu Huu Phuoc High School, and a street in Hanoi after his name.

7. Nguyen Van Ty Musician

nguyen van ty musician
Nguyen Van Ty Musician. Photo: Bao Hanoimoi

Nguyen Van Ty composed many songs, and his compositions are loved by the public such as Dư Âm (Resonance), Mẹ Yêu Con (Mother Loves Children), Dáng Đứng Bến Tre (Standing in Ben Tre), Bài Ca Năm Tấn (Song of Five Tons), Bài Ca Phụ Nữ Việt Nam (Songs of Vietnamese Women), and Cô Nuôi Dạy Trẻ (She Cares Children).

Dư Âm can be his only pre-war song. Although this song was not popular in the North during the war years, it was performed a lot in the South before 1975. Later, the song was widely circulated, becoming one of the famous love songs. Later, he wrote another song: “Dư Âm 2,” called A Starlight (1988).

Nguyen Van Ty is one of the successful red musicians with the style of folk music. His compositions have been carefully studied through field trips for a long time.

Many of his songs have skillfully used folk mode from various regions in Vietnam, such as Một Khúc Tâm Tình Người Hà Tĩnh (A Song of the Hearts of Ha Tinh people), Giáng Đứng Bến Tre (Standing Posture of Ben Tre), and Mẹ Yêu Con (Mother Loves Children).

Giáng Đứng Bến Tre (Standing posture of Ben Tre)

His music is rich in lyricism expressed through elaborate lyrics, along with smooth melodies and national identity. Nguyen Van Ty often finds inspiration to write about Vietnam women, such as Bai Ca Phu Nu Viet Nam (Songs of Vietnamese Women), Mother Loves Children, Tam Ao Chien Si Me Va Nam Xua (Mother Sews Soldier’s Clothes), etc.

Nguyen Van Ty also composed about the changes in developing and building the country, such as Co Di Nuoi Day Tre (Teacher Cares Babies), and Bai Ca Nam Tan (Song of Five Tons).

8. Le Thuong Composer

le phuong composer
Le Phuong Composer and his famous song. Photo: Internet

Le Thuong (1914-1996) is one of the pioneering Vietnamese composers writing new music with the well-known song Ban Dan Xuan (Spring Recital). During the period in the North, Le Thuong also composed other works such as The Sound of Instrument at Night, A Green Day, On the Yangtze River, and Autumn on Kinh Chau Island.

Le Thuong is also a beginner in many musical genres. During the resistance war, he composed a famous song: “Vietnamese Mother’s Heart” or “Ba Tu Selling Goods,” about a city mother whose children joined the resistance. Also, that song was one of the reasons Le Thuong was imprisoned by the French in Catinat with Pham Duy and Tran Van Trach in 1951.

Le Thuong was one of the first people to write music stories and left the best songs such as Nàng Hà Tiên (Ha Tien Girl), Human History, Hoa Thủy Tiên (Daffodils). Most especially, the trio of Hòn Vọng Phu (Stone Waiting for Husband) is a well-known work of Vietnamese new music. Van Cao also acknowledged the influence of Le Thuong with a musical style derived from Vietnamese traditional music.

Hòn Vọng Phu (Stone Waiting for Husband)

For a long time, Le Thuong and musician Le Cao Phan were in charge of the band Mang Non for children, broadcasting fairy tales, folk songs, and children’s songs.

Also, along with Nguyen Xuan Khoat and Le Thuong, he is considered the opening musician of children with the songs Tuổi Thơ (Childhood), Con Mèo Mà Trèo Cây Cau (The Cat Climbs the Areca Tree), and Thằng Bé Tí Hon (The Little Boy). The most famous is Thằng Cuội (Mr. Cuoi), often sung by children during the Mid-Autumn Festival in Vietnam.

9. Doan Chuan Composer

doan chuan composer
Doan Chuan Composer. Photo: baokhanhhoa.vn

Doan Chuan Composer (1924-2001) was born in Cat Hai, Hai Phong City, but grew up in Hanoi, the son of the owner of the famous Van Van fish sauce company at that time. Falling in love with the Hawaiian guitar, he learned by himself and wrote songs that went into the hearts of many listeners.

Doan Chuan is one of the typical musicians of the pre-war lyrical genre of Vietnamese music. Although he left behind only a few works, his works have gone deep into the hearts of many generations. All his songs are credited with the author’s name: “Doan Chuan – Tu Linh”. Tu Linh (? – 1992) was not directly involved in composing, but Doan Chuan wrote the two together to honor his best friend and the friendship that contributed to creating artistic inspiration.

A total of twenty-one songs by musician Doan Chuan have been identified so far, in which his compositions often refer to autumn. However, he considers himself an amateur in composing music and in love.

Many singers are performing the compositions of Doan Chuan, such as Le Thanh, Le Thu, Khanh Ly, Anh Tuyet, Bang Kieu, and Tung Duong. Singer Le Dung has blown into Doan Chuan’s compositions the best colors of classical works.

Lovely Autumn composed by Doan Chuan and sung by Le Dung

In early 2000, he suffered a cerebrovascular accident and fell into a coma. After that, he regained consciousness but lost his voice and could only write on paper until his death in November 2001.

10. Pham Duy Musician

pham duy musician
Pham Duy Musician wears a red jacket. Photo: baothuathienhue.vn

Pham Duy (October 5, 1921 – January 27, 2013), his real name Pham Duy Can, is a Vietnamese musician, singer, and music researcher.

He owns the greatest musicians of the Vietnamese New Music scene with a huge amount of compositions as well as a variety of genres, including many songs that have become a masterpiece and familiar to Vietnamese people. His music often combines elements of Vietnamese traditional music with new trends and styles, creating many outstanding and influential works for musicians of many generations.

Since the spring of 1988, with the cooperation of his son Duy Cuong, Pham Duy has shifted from monotonous music to polyphonic music. Typically, Pham Duy completed the group of songs Bầy Chim Viễn Sứ (Oversea Birds) in 2000, composed in 1975, and had to wait 15 years to finish it.

His epics such as Đường Cái Quan (The Highway) and Mẹ Việt Nam (the Mother of Vietnam) were also adapted to become symphonic music. In 1992, Pham Duy started to write spiritual music with the songs Dạo Khúc Thiền Ca (Contemplate Song) and Trường Ca Hàn Mặc Tử (Han Mac Tu Long Song).

Vo Chong Que (Husband and Wife in the Countryside), composed by Pham Duy

Pham Duy Musician returned to Vietnam in 2005 and died in Saigon on January 27, 2013, in the infinite mourning of those who loved Pham Duy’s music.

To have lasting works today, the dedication of Vietnamese musicians is worthy of our respect. Find and enjoy their marvelous creations to learn more about spiritual culture and music in Vietnam!

Besides music, you may like to see the other forms of art in Vietnam, which can help you love this country more.

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