Blind guitarist Van Vuong was presented the Grand Prize at the "Bui Xuan Phai – Love for Hanoi " awards on Aug. 31 for his lifelong dedication to the capital and the music he has created that describes the city's beauty.

The 70-year-old artist is one of Vietnam's most famous guitarists despite losing his sight when he was just four years old after contracting smallpox.

With extraordinary energy and a great love for life and Hanoi, his home for more than 40 years, he has composed hundreds of beautiful melodies about the city. He has taken part in 8,000 public performances and released seven CDs featuring his best works. His image along with the melodious sounds of his guitar were featured in the documentary film Hanoi Trong Mat Ai (Hanoi Through Whose Eyes?) directed by Tran Van Thuy in 1982 that won the Golden Lotus prize in the most interesting documentary film category at the Vietnam Film Festival in 1988. The name of the film is also the name of the piece composed by Vuong, who has always wished to see the beauty of the capital one day.

"I am very touched to receive the prize. I have always had a deep love for Hanoi , and I'm ready to do anything for the city," he said.

Other prizes at the awards ceremony were also presented to individuals and organisations who have made great contributions to the capital in the fields of culture, arts and society.

The Work Prize is awarded to an individual or organisation responsible for the creation of a work that beautifies the city. Author Nguyen Ngoc Tien was awarded the prize for his two books Di Ngang Hanoi (Walking Past Hanoi) and Di Doc Hanoi (Walking Along Hanoi). The books are based on research into the daily lives of Hanoi 's inhabitants.

The Idea Prize was awarded to a group of experts from the Co Loa Vestiges Preservation Centre who wanted to restore the week-long Quang Chieu coloured lantern festival that used to be held at the Thang Long Imperial Citadel. The idea is expected to "reinvigorate" the Citadel's spirit with the restoration of a spiritual and cultural ritual that was organised here nearly 1,000 years ago.

The Job Prize was presented to French historian Olivier Tessier, member of the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient (French School of Asian studies), who has spent years collecting precious documents on Hanoi's Ancient Citadel and organising exhibitions and conferences honouring the values of the old capital.

He said he fell in love with Hanoi when he first arrived in the city in 1993 as a tourist.

"My work in Hanoi has helped me to understand and appreciate more about the city. I've always been seduced by its charm," he says.

The judges included historian Phan Huy Le, poet Bang Viet, chairman of the Hanoi Literature and Arts Association; journalist Ngo Ha Thai, deputy general director of the Vietnam News Agency; painter Tran Khanh Chuong, chairman of the Vietnam Fine Arts Association, and architect Doan Duc Thanh.

The awards were established in 2008 in honour of painter Bui Xuan Phai (1920-88). They were organised by the Hanoi People's Committee and sponsored by the daily The Thao & Van Hoa (Sports & Culture) newspaper and the Bui Xuan Phai Fund.

In 2011, the Grand Prize was awarded to historian Phan Huy Le for his extensive research on Hanoi . The 76-year-old man contributed to documents on the Thang Long Citadel, Phu Dong Festival and 82 stelae at the Temple of Literature, that helped the latter become an inscription of the UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme in 2010. He also held dozens of conferences on Thang Long – Hanoi and helped to publish 36 books on the city.-VNA