Trịnh Công Sơn

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Trịnh Công Sơn
Birth name Trịnh Công Sơn
Also known as Trịnh
Born (1939-02-28)February 28, 1939
Origin Huế, Vietnam
Died April 1, 2001(2001-04-01) (aged 62)
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1939–2001
Notable instruments
Guitar

Trịnh Công Sơn (February 28, 1939 – April 1, 2001) was a Vietnamese composer, musician, songwriter, painter and poet.[1][2] He, along with Phạm Duy and Văn Cao, is widely considered one of the three salient figures of modern (non-classical) Vietnamese music.[3] Many of Trịnh's songs are love songs. Others are anti-war songs, written during and about the Vietnam War; some of them were censored by the southern Republic of Vietnam and later by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Many performing artists, most notably Khánh Ly, have interpreted Trinh Cong Son's music.

Biography[edit]

Portrait of Trinh Cong Son at the commemoration house in Binh Quoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Sơn was born in Buôn Ma Thuột, Đắk Lắk Province, Vietnam, but as a child he lived in the village of Minh Huong in Hương Trà in Thừa Thiên–Huế Province.[4] He grew up in Huế, where he attended the Lycée Français and the Providence school. When he was ten he lived with his father in Huế's Thừa Phủ Prison for a year in 1949.[5] Later he went to Saigon and studied western philosophy at the Lycee Jean-Jacques Rousseau, from which he graduated with the baccalaureate degree. In 1961, he studied psychology and pedagogy in a school for teachers in Quy Nhon. After graduation, he taught at an elementary school in Bao Loc, Lâm Đồng.

Trịnh Công Sơn wrote over 500 songs, and, during the 1960s and 1970s, Trần Văn Dĩnh dubbed him the Bob Dylan of Vietnam in Peace News of 8 November 1968 for his antiwar songs.[6] Trần Văn Dĩnh's comparison has been attributed to Joan Baez, but there is no record she even mentioned him. However many young Vietnamese considered Sơn the Bob Dylan or the Joan Baez of Vietnam.[7][8] He became one of South Vietnam's notable singer-songwriters, after his first hit, Ướt mi (Tearing Lashes) in 1958. He was frequently under pressure from the government, which was displeased with the pacifist's lyrics of such songs as Ngủ đi con (Lullaby, about a mother grieving for her soldier son).

Before April 30, 1975, he went on the radio in Saigon to sing the song "Joining Hands/Circle of Unity" ("Nối vòng tay lớn") about the dream of national reconciliation between the North and the South, which he had written in 1968. On the afternoon of April 30, following Duong Van Minh's proclamation of surrender, Trinh went on the radio to say that the national dream had been realized and that liberation had been achieved.

After the reunification in 1975, Trịnh Công Sơn was sentenced by the new communist government, to "retraining" in a labour camp after his family had fled to Canada. However, he was eventually honoured by the government and many officials sent their respects with floral tributes. His often melancholic songs about love and postwar reconciliation earned new acceptance and popularity in later years. Many of his songs have been re-licensed to Vietnamese music companies such as Thuy Nga and Lang Van and sung by other artists. There are two singers' names often associated with Trinh Cong Son. One is Khanh Ly. The other one is Hong Nhung[citation needed].

Khanh Ly helped popularize Trịnh Công Sơn music in the early years. They often performed together in South Vietnam University Campuses. Later on in his life, Hồng Nhung (born 1970), many years his junior, replaced Khanh Ly's place until his death, breathing new life into his songs[citation needed].

Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at his funeral in Ho Chi Minh city, for a spontaneous ad hoc funeral concert, making such a spectacle the largest in Vietnamese history, next to the funeral procession of Ho Chi Minh.

Songs[edit]

List of songs[edit]

  • Bài ca dành cho những xác người (Ballad to the dead), written in the aftermath of the Huế Massacre
  • Bên đời hiu quạnh
  • Biển nghìn thu ở lại
  • Biển nhớ (Pining sea)
  • Biển sáng (Bright sea) (co-writing with Phạm Trọng Cầu)
  • Biết đâu nguồn cội (Unbeknownst to me, the root)
  • Bống bồng ơi
  • Bống không là Bống
  • Bốn mùa thay lá (Four seasons of change)
  • Ca dao mẹ (A mother's lament)
  • Cánh đồng hoà bình (Fields of peace)
  • Cát bụi (Sand and dust)
  • Chiếc lá thu phai (The withering fall leaf)
  • Chiều một mình qua phố (An afternoon promenade of solitude)
  • Chìm dưới cơn mưa (Buried under the rain)
  • Cho đời chút ơn (Grace onto life)
  • Cho một người nằm xuống (Song for the fallen)
  • Chưa mất niềm tin (Still believing)
  • Chưa mòn giấc mơ (A dream that hasn't been eroded)
  • Con mắt còn lại (The remaining eye)
  • Có một dòng sông đã qua đời (A river that has passed away)
  • Có nghe đời nghiêng (Tilting life)
  • Còn ai với ai / Còn tôi với ai
  • Còn mãi tìm nhau (Forever seeking)
  • Còn có bao ngày (Not many days are left)
  • Còn thấy mặt người
  • Còn tuổi nào cho em
  • Cỏ xót xa đưa (Sway sorrow weeds)
  • Cúi xuống thật gần (Bend down, come closer)
  • Cũng sẽ chìm trôi (Eventual withering)
  • Cuối cùng cho một tình yêu (The end of a romance)
  • Dân ta vẫn sống
  • Dấu chân địa đàng / Tiếng hát dạ lan (Footprints in Eden / The singing of the Hyacinth)
  • Diễm xưa (Diễm of the Past)
  • Du mục (Nomad)
  • Dựng lại người, dựng lại nhà (People rebuilt, houses rebuilt)
  • Đại bác ru đêm (A Lullaby of Cannons for the Night)
  • Để gió cuốn đi (Gone with the wind)
  • Đêm / Đêm Hồng (Night / Pink Night)
  • Đêm bây giờ, đêm mai (This night, tomorrow night)
  • Đêm thấy ta là thác đổ (One night I saw me as a waterfall)
  • Đi mãi trên đường (Never-ending road)
  • Đóa hoa vô thường (Evanescent bloom)
  • Đoản khúc thu Hà Nội (Ditty for Hanoi's autumn)
  • Đợi có một ngày (Waiting for the day)
  • Đôi mắt nào mở ra (Open your eyes)
  • Đồng dao hoà bình (The rhymth of Peace)
  • Đừng mong ai, đừng nghi ngại
  • Em còn nhớ hay em đã quên (Do you still remember or have you forgotten?)
  • Em đã cho tôi bầu trời (The heaven you have brought to me)
  • Em đi bỏ lại con đường
  • Em đi trong chiều (In the evening you walk)
  • Em hãy ngủ đi (Love, you should sleep)
  • Em là hoa hồng nhỏ (You are a little rose)
  • Gần như niềm tuyệt vọng (A resemblance of despair)
  • Gia tài của mẹ (A mother's legacy)
  • Giọt lệ thiên thu (A tear of eternity)
  • Giọt nước mắt cho quê hương (A tear for my homeland)
  • Gọi tên bốn mùa (Conjure up the four seasons)
  • Góp lá mùa xuân
  • Hạ trắng (White summer)
  • Hai mươi mùa nắng lạ (Twenty seasons of strange sunlight)
  • Hành hương trên đồi cao / Người đi hành hương trên đỉnh cao (Pilgrimage)
  • Hát trên những xác người (Singing over the dead), not to be confused with "Bài ca dành cho những xác người"
  • Hãy cố chờ (Let's try to wait)
  • Hãy cứ vui như mọi ngày (Just be happy like any other day)
  • Hãy khóc đi em (Just cry, my dear)
  • Hãy nhìn lại (Just look back and see)
  • Hãy sống giùm tôi (Just live my life for me)
  • Hãy yêu nhau đi (Let's love)
  • Hoà bình là cơm áo (Peace means weal)
  • Hoa vàng mấy độ (The flowers that were once golden bright)
  • Hoa xuân ca (Spring flowers song)
  • Hôm nay tôi nghe (Today I heard)
  • Huế - Sài Gòn - Hà Nội (Hue - Saigon - Hanoi)
  • Huyền thoại mẹ (Legendary mother)
  • Khói trời mênh mông
  • Lại gần với nhau (Closer)
  • Lặng lẽ nơi này (So silent here)
  • Lời buồn thánh
  • Lời mẹ ru (A mother's lullaby)
  • Lời ở phố về
  • Lời ru đêm (Night's lullaby)
  • Lời thiên thu gọi (Eternity's calling)
  • Mẹ bỏ con đi / Đường xa vạn dặm
  • Môi hồng đào (Rosy Lips)
  • Mỗi ngày tôi chọn một niềm vui (Each day I choose joy)
  • Một buổi sáng mùa xuân (A spring morning)
  • Một cõi đi về (A place for leaving and returning)
  • Một lần thoáng có
  • Một ngày như mọi ngày (A day just like any other day)
  • Một ngày vinh quang (A day of glory)
  • Mùa áo quan (The season of coffins)
  • Mùa hè đến (The summer's arrived)
  • Mưa hồng (Pink rain)
  • Mùa phục hồi / Xin chờ những sớm mai (The season of recuperation / Waiting for tomorrow mornings)
  • Nắng thuỷ tinh (Crystal sunlight)
  • Này em cớ nhớ (Do you remember?)
  • Ngẫu nhiên (Perchance)
  • Ngày dài trên quê hương (A long day in the Motherland)
  • Ngày mai đây bình yên (Peaceful future)
  • Ngày về (Returning home)
  • Ngày xưa khi còn bé (Childhood days)
  • Nghe những tàn phai (The sound of evanescing)
  • Nghe tiếng muôn trùng
  • Ngủ đi con (Go to sleep, my child)
  • Ngụ ngôn mùa đông (A winter fable)
  • Người con gái Việt Nam da vàng (A yellow-skinned Vietnamese girl)
  • Người già em bé (An old person, a baby)
  • Người về bỗng nhớ
  • Nguyệt ca (The lunar song)
  • Nhìn những mùa thu đi (Watch the autumns go by)
  • Nhớ mùa thu Hà Nội (Missing Hanoi's autumn)
  • Như cánh vạc bay (Like a flying crane)
  • Như chim ưu phiền (Anguishing bird)
  • Như một lời chia tay (Words of good-bye)
  • Như một vết thương (A wound)
  • Như tiếng thở dài (As a deep sigh)
  • Những con mắt trần gian (The earthly eyes)
  • Những giọt máu trổ bông (The blooming of the blood drops)
  • Níu tay nghìn trùng (Grabbing hands over a thousand miles)
  • Nối vòng tay lớn (Circle of unity)
  • Ở trọ / Cõi tạm (Temporary stay)
  • Phôi pha (Withering)
  • Phúc âm buồn (Dolorous Gospel)
  • Quê hương đau nặng (Motherland in pain)
  • Quỳnh hương (Scent of the ephemeral bloom)
  • Ra đồng giữa ngọ
  • Rồi như đá ngây ngô (Not gone at all)
  • Rơi lệ ru người
  • Ru đời đã mất (Lullaby for a lost life)
  • Ru đời đi nhé (Lullaby to life)
  • Ru em (Lullaby for you)
  • Ru em từng ngón xuân nồng / Ru mãi ngàn năm (Eternal lullaby)
  • Ru ta ngậm ngùi / Môi nào hãy còn thơm (Lullaby for a sorrowful me)
  • Ru tình (Lullaby for love)
  • Rừng xưa đã khép (Your old woods are closed)
  • Sao mắt mẹ chưa vui?
  • Sẽ còn ai (Who will remain?)
  • Sóng về đâu (To where the waves depart)
  • Ta đi dựng cờ
  • Tạ ơn
  • Ta phải thấy mặt trời (We must be able to see the Sun)
  • Ta quyết phải sống (We have to survive & live)
  • Ta thấy gì đêm nay (What have we seen tonight?)
  • Thuở Bống là người (The time when Bong was in human form)
  • Thiên sứ bâng khuâng (thơ Trịnh Cung)
  • Thương một người (Loving someone)
  • Tiến thoái lưỡng nan (All ways closed off)
  • Tình ca của người mất trí ("Ballad of an insane person" or "Love song of a deranged woman")
  • Tình khúc Ơ-bai
  • Tình nhớ
  • Tình sầu (Sorrowful love)
  • Tình xa (Distant love)
  • Tình xót xa vừa
  • Tình yêu tìm thấy
  • Tôi đã mất (I have lost)
  • Tôi đang lắng nghe / Im lặng thở dài (I am listening / Quiet sigh)
  • Tôi ơi đừng tuyệt vọng (Despair not, dear me)
  • Tôi ru em ngủ (My lullaby for you)
  • Tôi sẽ đi thăm (I shall visit)
  • Tôi sẽ nhớ (I shall remember)
  • Tôi tìm tôi / Tôi là ai? (I search for myself / Who am I?)
  • Trong nỗi đau tình cờ
  • Tự tình khúc
  • Từng ngày qua
  • Tuổi đá buồn (Stone's age of despair)
  • Tuổi đời mênh mông
  • Tuổi trẻ Việt Nam (Vietnamese Youths)
  • Tưởng rằng đã quên (Thought that I have forgotten)
  • Ướt mi ("Misty eyes" or "Tearing lashes")
  • Vẫn có em bên đời (I still have you in my life)
  • Vẫn nhớ cuộc đời
  • Vàng phai trước ngõ
  • Về trong suối nguồn (Back to the fountainhead)
  • Về thăm mái trường xưa (Revisiting the old school)
  • Vết lăn trầm
  • Vì tôi cần thấy em yêu đời
  • Vườn xưa (Garden of the past)
  • Xa dấu mặt trời
  • Xanh lòng phai tàn
  • Xin cho tôi
  • Xin mặt trời ngủ yên
  • Xin trả nợ người
  • Yêu dấu tan theo (Fading love)

Songs about the War[edit]

In the song "Mother's Legacy" (Gia tài của mẹ), Trinh sings about the Vietnamese experience of the Vietnam War:[9] He laments that the 1,000 years of Vietnam's subjugation to Chinese imperial rule, the 100 years of subjugation to French colonial rule, and the ongoing civil war, together have left a sad legacy of graveyards, parched fields and burning houses. He urges the children of Vietnam to remain true to their Vietnamese identity and overcome the dividing hatred, put an end to internecine fighting and the destruction of the country.

In the song "Song about the Corpses of People" ("Hát trên những xác người"), written in the aftermath of the Huế Massacre, Trinh sings about the corpses strewn around the city, in the river, on the roads, on the rooftops, even on the porches of the pagodas. The corpses, each one of which he regards as the body of a sibling, will nourish the farmland.

Love Songs[edit]

Love is the single biggest recurring theme in Trinh's work. His love songs constitute the majority of the songs. Most of them are sad, conveying a sense of despondence and solitude as in "Sương đêm", "Ướt mi". Songs are either about loss as in "Diểm xưa", "Biển nhớ", or nostalgia: "Tình xa", "Tình sầu", "Tình nhớ", "Em còn nhớ hay em đã quên", "Hoa vàng mấy độ". Other songs, additionally carry philosophical messages from a man to his lover: "Cỏ xót xa đưa", "Gọi tên bốn mùa", "Mưa hồng". The style is sly, simple, suitable to be rendered in Slow, Blues or Boston. The lyrics are overwhelmingly poetic, candid and yet deeply poignant, oftentimes hinting elements of symbolism and surrealism.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dale Alan Olsen Popular Music of Vietnam: The Politics of Remembering 2008 "Trịnh Công Sơn" biography p134-135, ideology p129-130 influence on musicians p139-140
  2. ^ Shepherd Continuum encyclopedia of popular music of the world 2005 p.228 "Trịnh Công Sơn"
  3. ^ "Trinh Cong Son’s love songs hit Hue palace". Tuoi Tre. 2011-03-30. 
  4. ^ Schafer, John C., "The Trịnh Công Sơn Phenomenon", The Journal of Asian Studies, Volume 66, Issue 3, 2007, ISSN 0067-7159
  5. ^ Death, Buddhism, and Existentialism in the Songs of Trịnh Công Sơn JC Schafer - 2007 "... His father, active in the resistance, was imprisoned in Buôn Ma Thuột, and Trịnh Công Sơn lived with him in Thừa Phủ Prison for a year in 1949 when he was ten years old."
  6. ^ Tạ Tỵ 10 Khuôn Măt Văn Nghê Hôm Nay 1971 "Trần Văn Dĩnh da nói dieu trèn a bân tin, nhan de : "Bob Dylan cûa Viêt Nam" ("The Bob Dylan of Vietnam") trong Peace News ngày 8-11-1968. Va y Bob Dylan là ai? Bob Dylan là nhac sï My trê, thuoc thành phân phân chien. Bob Dylan không không phài tên thât, chï là biet hiêu."
  7. ^ Vo, Nghia M. Saigon: A History p137 "In "It Is We Who Must Speak", Sơn told people to rise and demand the unification of the country—under whom, he did not say—as well as to refuse to participate in a fratricidal war and to stack up their weapons. Many young Vietnamese considered Sơn the Bob Dylan or the Joan Baez of Vietnam. Sơn, in turn, was influenced by the shrill demands of American anti-war protesters, which had been brought to Vietnam by none other than young American soldiers."
  8. ^ Nghia M. Vo Saigon: A History 2011- Page 137 "Trịnh Công Sơn in "Who's Left Who Is Vietnamese" advised combatants to open their eyes, for there were only Vietnamese fighters around and by that time one million of them had died during the war. Turn over the human corpses, the lyrics said, and one could only see Vietnamese faces. "
  9. ^ The original Vietnamese text and various English translations are available on numerous internet websites including the following: [1], [2], [3], [4].

External links[edit]