Overseas guitarist lifts Vietnamese spirits with beautiful melodies

Despite being busy, classical guitarist Dang Ngoc Long, Rector of the Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Music School, often thinks about his homeland.

A purely Vietnamese soul

Although Prof. Long has been living and working in Germany for nearly 30 years, he has never grown completely accustomed to living far away from Vietnam and still feels very happy whenever he returns home.

Prof. Long says he will never forget the moment when he performed in the national guitar festival in 2002. Such moments have motivated him to devote himself to his career.

“My performance of a piece entitled “Nui rung Tay Nguyen” drew so much applause from the audience that I burst into tears after the show”, he said.

Many of his compositions like “Nui rung Tay Nguyen”, “Beo dat may troi”, “Di cay duoi trang” and “Ly cay bong”, were inspired by lullabies and Vietnamese folk melodies and they have conveyed the Vietnamese soul to people living overseas, many of whom hold back their tears every time they hear his music.

Prof. Long has been lauded by the German press for his talent. The “Liberation” newspaper said Long’s guitar skills in both classical music and traditional Vietnamese music have proved a hit overseas.

A Vietnamese talent overseas

Born in 1957 in a poor village in Nghe An province, Long passed the entrance examination to the Hanoi Conservatory of Music in 1975. He went on to study at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin, Germany in 1984.

In 1987, he won the special prize at the international “Villa Lobos” guitar competition in Hungary and became the first Vietnamese to win an international guitar competition.

In 1990, Prof. Long was invited to be a jury member at the international guitar competition in Berlin and he has also been invited to be the Art Council Chairman of the International Guitar Festival which is held every two years.

Many of his compositions have been selected as compulsory pieces for international competitions. In recognition of his contributions to music training in Germany, the Bernau Music School held a guitar competition named after him, the “Long-Wettbewerb fuer Gitarre solo” competition in 1994.

In 2004 he became the first foreigner to be elected rector of the Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Music School. Last year, he was conferred the title of professor and invited to teach at the Kyrgyzstan International University.

A heart directed toward the homeland

Although he is living and working in Germany, Prof. Long always thinks about how to develop the music industry in Vietnam.

Whenever he is invited to perform in places like Hungary, Italy or Spain, he performs his compositions which present an image of the Vietnamese people to the world.

One of Long’s dreams is to establish a music school in his homeland to encourage young music prodigies.

The project will be launched immediately after it is licensed, he said, adding that it will help young talents with the careers guidance they need.

At the Berlin-Gesundbrunnen Music School, Prof. Long has included some Vietnamese folk songs into the curriculum. Some of his textbooks and recordings on guitar playing are available in Germany and other European countries.

He also plans to establish a faculty for Vietnamese folk music at his school. He says the idea will soon become a reality as more German people want to get to learn about Vietnamese music.

He was recently invited to perform in the “Spring in the homeland” programme which took place on February 6 with the participation of thousands of overseas people from over the world.

He has also been invited to serve as the chairman of the Asia-Pacific Guitar Festival held in Vietnam in October for which his works “ Beo dat may troi” and “Morning-Mai” have been chosen as the compulsory pieces.