Talking about successful artists of Vietnamese origin abroad, we cannot fail to mention Vietnamese-German classical guitarist Dang Ngoc Long, who has made great contributions to bringing Vietnamese folk music to a world-wide audience.

After graduating from the Hanoi Conservatory of Music in 1979, Dang Ngoc Long worked as a lecturer for the Central Highlands Literature and Art School and then for the Hanoi Conservatory of Music. He went to Germany in 1984 to follow graduate and post-graduate studies at the Academy of Music Hanns Eisler-Berlin. After graduating there, he was invited to lecture at the academy.

During his time in Germany, he successfully reworked several famous Vietnamese folk songs in modern European music styles, including “Morning-Mai”, “For Thay” and “Bamboo Ber”. In 1987, with the work “Nui rung Tay Nguyen” (Central Highlands Mountains and Forests), Long became the first Vietnamese to win a special prize at the international “Villa Lobos” guitar competition in Hungary.

Thereafter, his name became well-known in guitar circles and since then he has been invited to perform in many countries across the globe, including Hungary, Italy and Spain  Many books and recordings of Long’s guitar solos, duets and quartets are on sale throughout Europe.

According to the “Berlin Morning Post” newspaper, hearing Long’s performances of such songs as “Nui rung Tay Nguyen” and “Beo dat may troi” (Floating water-fern and wandering clouds), people feel like they are living in his homeland despite being tens of thousands of miles away.

Artist Inde Wilcrok from the Berlin Conservatory of Music said that Dang Ngoc Long’s music exudes the breath of life. He lives in Europe but his soul is purely Vietnamese, he added.

Long’s prestige has been affirmed even further, as several of his works which mix modern and folk music have been selected as compulsory pieces for some international competitions, including “Beo dat may troi” and “Morning-Mai,” which will be performed at a contest in October of this year.

Recognising his contributions to music training in Germany, the Bernau Music School held a guitar competition named after him, the “Long-Wettbewerb fuer Gitarre solo” in 1994.

In 2004, Long was the first foreigner to be elected as Headmaster of the Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Music School and Chairman of the art council and the only foreigner on the jury of the international guitar festival in Berlin. Last year, he was conferred with the title of professor and invited to teach at the International University of Kyrgyzstan.

Long has confided that the lullabies and Vietnamese folk melodies he heard in childhood have been the inspiration for his compositions.

He lives and works overseas, but whenever he returns to Vietnam, he enthusiastically engages in activities to develop the local music industry. During his 2001 return to attend the first National Guitar Festival, he presented one of his own, precious guitars worth 500 USD to the first prize winner.

This yar Long performed at the Tet programme for overseas Vietnamese entitled “Homeland Spring” hosted by the National Committee on Overseas Vietnamese Affairs in Hanoi on February 6.

He will continue to help train the Hanoi Conservatory of Music’s staff and also plans to discuss with several authorised Vietnamese agencies the organisation of an Asia-Pacific Guitar Festival in Vietnam in November./.