Vietnam’s famed music scholar Tran Van Khe in critical condition

By Thien Huong - Uyen Trinh, Thanh Nien News

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Professor Tran Van Khe, an honorary member of the UNESCO’s International Music Council, in a file photo.

Professor Tran Van Khe, probably Vietnam’s most famous traditional music scholar, has been in hospital for two weeks and shows no signs of recovery, his doctor say.
Khe, an honorary member of the UNESCO’s International Music Council, was admitted to the Nhan Dan Gia Dinh Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on May 27 with severe pneumonia and heart rhythm disorder.
He was then put on a ventilator and a pacemaker.
“We are trying our best to treat him. But he shows no recovery,” Doctor Ho Van Han told Thanh Nien Thursday afternoon.
Han said while Khe is still conscious, he cannot talk.
Born in a musical family in the southern province of Vinh Long, Khe can play many Vietnamese traditional music instruments such as dan nguyet (moon-shaped two-chord lute), dan co (two-chord fiddle), and dan tranh (16-chord zither).
Khe moved to France in 1949 and received a doctoral degree in musicology from the University of Paris-Sorbonne in 1958. He was a lecturer in Asian music there between 1966 and 1988.
He have been given a number of international prizes and awards, including the UNESCO International Music Council prize in 1981, Officer in France's National Order of Arts and Letters in 1991, Japan’s Koizumi Fumio Prize for Ethnomusicology in 1994, and Vietnam’s first-class Labor Medal in 1999.
Having lived in Paris for more than 50 years, he traveled to many universities in 43 countries to lecture on and perform Vietnamese traditional music.
Since returning to Vietnam in 2006, Khe has joined many talks and events on traditional music and culture, even in a wheelchair due to health problems in recent years.
In his testament recently announced in local media, Khe wishes his house in Binh Thanh District, after his dealth, to become a museum for all the items he used for researching traditional music, including books, recordings, pictures, and musical instruments.
He also wishes all money gifts at his funeral will be used to fund a scholarship or an award to be given to people dedicated to Vietnamese traditional music research.
Khe’s son, Professor Tran Quang Hai, is also a well-known traditional music scholar.

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