Nguyen Trong Tao on the Vietnam Poetry Day 2018


Hanoi (VNA) –
Nguyen Trong Tao, an artist with a free and content soul, has passed away, but his image as a multi-talented person with a mischievous smile will live forever in the mind of his friends and fans.

“Nguyen Trong Tao’s death left a gap in the world of letters and arts. Not only talented and enthusiastic at work, he was also devoted to his families and close relatives, and always the centre of friends’ gatherings,” poet and musician Nguyen Thuy Kha said.

Tao came to the end of his life in the evening of January 7 after a period of illness, leaving his family, friends and fans of his works with sorrow.

A multi-talented artist

“So Tao, a free and content soul has gone to heaven. But I believe that he will live forever in the heart of his family members, colleagues and audiences with his mischievous smile and simple but humorous way of talking. Art lovers will remember him for his talent, enthusiasm, hardworking and kindness,” writer and literary critic Ngo Thao said.

Poets Nguyen Trong Tao and Pham Duy in Tao’s home village

Many colleagues and researchers shared the view that Tao is a multi-talented artist. He has established his own place not only in literature and music but also in painting.

“Nguyen Trong Tao belonged to the later generation, following in the steps of such great names as Van Cao and Nguyen Dinh Thi. In Vietnam’s world of letters and arts, after those big names there were few persons like Tao who could work and reap impressive achievements across several fields from poem, music to painting,” according to researcher Nguyen Thuy Kha.

Kha, a close friend of Tao, said despite his talents and fame, Tao had never thought he was a “star”. “He was always outspoken and warm. He once even built a house on the bank of Hong River to host gatherings with friends and colleagues. The house used to be a gathering place for the circle of letters and arts in Hanoi for a long time,” Kha said.

The image of Tao enthusiastically reciting his poems will always remain in the memory of his colleagues and audiences.

In his friends’ memory, Tao was also a filial son, a lenient father and a devoted brother to his family. He never complained or blamed others for any unfortunate events in life. Instead, Tao stayed calm and sought different ways to handle them.

Musician Kha remembered that when Tao’s elderly mother fell ill, the poet carried her on his back and climbed five, six floors in hospital for check-up and treatment, as he was afraid that his mother would be tired waiting for the elevator.

“I also know that Tao spent many years to take his younger sister to many places from the north to the south to seek treatment when she got a serious disease. Whenever learning about a good doctor or a new treatment method, Tao immediately took his sister there. His efforts did not went useless, his sister finally recovered from the illness,” Kha said.

Tao and Kha when young. (Photo courtesy of Kha)

Kha went on to say that it might sound simple, but he believed that few could do that in the same situation. Many would be ready to give financial support, but not everyone would spend time and efforts to accompany and care for the ill person throughout the journey seeking treatment.

Reviving and multitasking

At the end of 2017, Tao suffered from a stroke. “After recovering from the illness, he returned to work at even higher pace. He did all sorts of things, from composing poems, writing articles for newspaper, designing book cover, attending talks on literature and arts. I think it was Tao’s comeback. He was interested in many things and stayed enthusiastic until the last minutes of his life,” Kha shared.

Nguyen Trong Tao worked as a member of the judge panel in a singing contest in 2017.

The two concerts of Tao’s work on the theme “The song of the home river” staged at the end of 2017 in Hanoi and in mid-2018 in Nghe An were all great success. However, he refused to organise more concerts.

“Tao wanted to organise the concerts only to preserve memories and share with his colleagues and audiences his past journey of arts. He never paid much attention to financial matters when working with music and literature. He used to emphasise that he does not do business in music and poetry,” Kha recalled.

Tao sang his song “The song of the home river” at a charity concert to raise funds for poor children in mountainous areas.
  

Late poet-musician Nguyen Trong Tao devoted his entire life to the arts. At the end of his adventure in the world of letters, sounds and shapes, Tao left a rich legacy with dozens of book titles in various genres.

He was the author of more than 400 poems, which were published in several collections such as “Gui nguoi khong quen” (To the stranger), “Song thuy tinh” (Glass waves), “Dong dao cho nguoi lon” (Children’s songs for Adults), “The gioi khong con trang” (World with no moon), “Tinh ca nguoi linh” (Love songs of soldiers), and “Con duong cua nhung vi sao” (Road of stars).

He also wrote nearly 100 songs, with some very popular among the public.

Wherever he went, whatever he wrote or tried his hands at, his creative works are infused with the simplicity, gentleness and closeness of folk arts. It is the folk origin that nurtures his soul, giving his artistic world those unique characteristics which are difficult to imitate,” said critic Ngo Thao.

When alive, Tao used to say “You can call me a poet, a writer, a musician, a painter, but I like it best to be call a countryside man.”

Poet-musician Nguyen Trong Tao was born in 1947 in Dien Chau (Nghe An province). He died at 19:50 on June 7, 2019 due to illness.

He attended the first course of the Nguyen Du writing school.

In 2012, Tao was presented the State Award for Literature and Arts for his works “Dong dao cho nguoi lon” (Children’s songs for Adults) and “Con duong cua nhung vi sao” (Road of stars).-VNA