Affirming contributions of musician Van Cao

The 100th birthday anniversary of musician Van Cao (November 15, 1923-2023) is a chance to pay tribute to the enthusiasm and dedication of the author of the “National Anthem” and outstanding artists, as well as look at the love, ideals, creative spirit and contributions to the country and people of artists today. Assoc. Prof, Dr. Do Hong Quan, Chairman of Vietnam Union of Literature and Arts Associations, talked with Thoi Nay (Present Time) publication of Nhan Dan Newspaper on this issue.
Musician Van Cao in 1947. (Photo: Tran Van Luu)
Musician Van Cao in 1947. (Photo: Tran Van Luu)

Q: Perhaps the 100th birthday anniversary of musician Van Cao, with several events that have kicked off and are taking place until November, wants to show more things than just honouring a great artist. Could you share something about the wishes of the Vietnam Union of Literature and Arts Associations through these activities?

A: Van Cao's contributions to literature, arts and the country were affirmed from his youth until he was old. Looking back on this process, many activities have been specifically planned, required coordination and organised successfully.

Over the past years, the Union has coordinated with the Vietnam Musicians Association, the musician's family, and some businesses with special affection for musician Van Cao, to organise a concert vividly depicting the portrait of musician Van Cao. On August 20, the musical programme entitled “Dan chim Viet” (Flock of Vietnamese Birds) took place at the Hanoi Opera House.

Previously, his family had released documents and articles about the deep memories of writers and artists with Van Cao. In the near future, under the direction and sponsorship of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Communications and Education, the Union will work with the Central Council for the Theory and Criticism of Literature and the Arts, to hold a seminar on the career and life of musician Van Cao, who was honoured with the Ho Chi Minh Award for Literature and Arts.

At the events, immortal works, the opinions and evaluations of writers, artists and researchers are also the stories and issues that we are interested in today's life. That is the sense of responsibility, love and contributions of the artist to the country.

Musician Do Hong Quan ảnh 1

Musician Do Hong Quan

Q: Perhaps, the series of events honouring musician Van Cao have also been the necessary recognition of promoting the heritage values of the musician and other artists of his generation, who enthusiastically accompanied the revolution and people?

A: The Union has been developing plans to honour writers and artists who have contributed to the revolution and the country. For example, in 2022, a concert, seminars and an inauguration ceremony of the memorial house in his hometown in Hai Duong Province, in addition to the issuance of commemorative stamps. Various activities will be held next year in celebration of the 100th birthday anniversary of poet Nguyen Dinh Thi. From now until the end of the year, there will be other commemorative activities in celebration of the 100th birthday anniversary of musicians Xuan Oanh and Trong Loan.

Looking back at the 75 years of development of the Vietnam Union of Literature and Arts Associations, we see the presence of famous faces such as Van Cao, To Huu, Nguyen Dinh Thi and Nguyen Tuan. Up to now, the forces in the Union have developed strongly with more than 42,000 writers and artists of five generations, who have been making many contributions to the cause of national construction and defence.

However, we still face many questions about the responsibility of creating great works, the affection and attachment to the people and country, the concerns when somewhere we see a distraction from the great issues of the nation and the selfishness, and the lack of activeness in the critical struggle of artists against the issues in the society.

Appreciating the achievements of Van Cao and many other outstanding writers and artists, we can recognise and believe more firmly in the lessons of history for the present. Before 1948, or even before the August revolution took power in 1945, since 1943, under the Outline on Vietnamese culture, many writers and artists have followed the revolution with great love for the country. Thereby, they have been optimistic, confident and raised their voices to fight and voices predicting the success of the revolution and resistance. We want to emphasise the individual talents of a generation of people who have been absorbed in patriotism were harmonised in the flow of resistance. While complying with the Party's regulations and disciplines, they have been promoting the spirit of freedom and creativity in the resistance art environment. Those are the things that make us think today.

Q: A very special thing, which has made many later generations of writers and artists and the general public still admire Van Cao, as well as many other typical artists and writers, is that they have made outstanding contributions since they were very young. What does this mean for young artists and writers?

A: Indeed, since Van Cao’s career before 1945, we admire the beautiful works that instil patriotism in the hearts of Vietnamese people. Until 1946, he wrote landmark works such as “Truong ca song Lo” (Lo River's Epic) and predictive works such as “Tien ve Ha Noi” (Marching to Hanoi) in 1949 and many others during the resistance war against French imperialism. Later, he composed songs about President Ho Chi Minh, workers, police, navy and air forces, and especially the profound work “Mua xuan dau tien” (The First Spring) in 1976 after the country was reunified.

We think that looking at that and even the difficulties and disadvantages that Van Cao also suffered from, we, especially young writers and artists, realise the profound lessons of patriotism and creativity so that we always instil love in works and convey that to the masses. That is a key to success.

Q: What do you think about conditions for artists to create and the appreciation of the value of literature and art in today's life?

A: Over the past years, the cultural spirit and the sense of appreciating artistic values have risen into movements, creating a new atmosphere in cultural and social life. Following the Party's policy, with the important orientations of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the National Cultural Conference in November 2021, and recently at the 75th Anniversary of the Union of Vietnamese Literature and Arts Associations, culture and arts should be raised, equivalent to economics and politics. In addition, this sector’s abundant potential in the cause of socio-economic development, towards creating favourable conditions for artists to create and contribute to the country’s glorious tradition of many decades.

However, it must be said that in many places, the roles and values of artists in the construction of society have not been fully realised. We believe that great attention to raising public awareness of contributions made by artists will encourage artists to create and spread their artworks to the public.

Thank you very much!