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Vietnam’s legendary musicologist Tran Van Khe dies at 94

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 09:20 GMT+7
Vietnam’s legendary musicologist Tran Van Khe dies at 94
Professor Tran Van Khe smiles as he poses for a photo during an event held by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper in Ho Chi Minh City.

Professor Tran Van Khe, known as the master of traditional Vietnamese music, died at the age of 94 on Wednesday, after nearly a month of fighting for his life at a Ho Chi Minh City hospital.

>> An audio version of the story is available here

Prof. Khe, a seasoned musicologist, academic, writer, teacher and performer of traditional music, drew his last breath at 2:55 am at Gia Dinh People’s Hospital, where he was admitted on May 27 with numerous elderly health issues.

He suffered illnesses in the lungs, heart and kidney, according to doctors.

The professor was taken care of by his children and Nguyen Thi Na, a caretaker who has been with him for a decade.

His relatives said the legendary musicologist had been well-prepared for his death, and left a will describing in detail how he would like his funeral to be organized.

Prof. Khe said in the will he wanted to be laid to rest following Buddhist funeral rites. He also demanded that a band, consisting of his fellows and students, perform traditional Vietnamese music at the funeral, according to the testament.

His coffin will be kept at his home in Binh Thanh District for a week to ten days.

As per Vietnamese customs, mourners usually donate money at the funeral, and Prof. Khe wanted to form a fund with this money to reward authorities on traditional Vietnamese music.

The professor also requested that his home be used as a commemorative house, where people can come to read all of the books and documents he had collected. His caretaker will be the manager of the commemorative house.

Prof. Khe was born in 1921 in My Tho City in southern Vietnam. He lived in Paris for decades and nurtured his love for Vietnam’s traditional music from a young age.

The expert fulfilled his childhood passion for the music of his home country by working his way through college in France in the early 1950s.

He performed only traditional Vietnamese music on traditional instruments at a restaurant owned by a Vietnamese expat. His music melted the hearts of many, including his French audience.

Since then, he had dedicated himself to researching, promoting, and honoring his country’s music around the globe.

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