Van Dung graduated as a journalism major and initially worked in VOV’s Industry Department. Dung came to music by chance when he was asked to work as a music editor by composer Cam Phong: “I never thought I would become a composer. At that time, the Voice of Vietnam had the important task of informing and encouraging people involved in production and soldiers on the battlefields. I decided to write music to further that mission”.
Van Dung travelled to different parts of Vietnam seeking inspiration for his music. During a fact-finding tour to Vinh Linh in 1965, he wrote a marching song called “Liberation soldiers”. After a visit to the Khe Sanh battlefield in 1968, Dung told a musical story about the brave female youth volunteers who helped clear roads to transport food, and weapons from the north to the southern battlefield. Musician Pham Tuyen, former Head of VOV’s Music Department, said: “Van Dung has been to many places in Vietnam, which brought different emotions and feelings to each song he wrote. His songs depicts many different people and many aspects of life, which has made them popular with listeners”.
During the war, Van Dung’s songs boosted people’s morale and inspired hope for victory of Vietnam’s revolution. His music also evokes a great love for the homeland. Musician Lan Cuong, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi Music Association, said: “Van Dung is a journalist, so his lyrics are beautiful and imaginative. For example, in the song “Flowers in Uncle Ho’s Garden”, Dung does not directly mention Ho Chi Minh’s contribution. Instead, he lets the colorful flowers in his garden represent Uncle Ho”.
During the resistance war, Dung’s music reflected the hardships, struggle, and sacrifice of the Vietnamese people. In peace time, his music now reflects the beauty of life. Many of Dung’s more recent songs are about spring and his love for his family and friends: “There were many beautiful songs written during the war, such as “The song of hope” by Van Ky and “The Eastern and Western Sides of the Truong Son Range” by Hoang Hiep from a poem of Pham Tien Duat. I was also impressed by “I sing on Truong Son peak” by Huy Du, and the romantic song “I travel along the country” by Vu Trong Hoi. The core value of those songs is humanity, in contrast to the brutal war”.
Van Dung’s contribution to music was acknowledged by the State with a second class Labor Medal and a State Award for Literature and Arts in 2001.
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