Vietnam matriarch, now 92, spread piano culture
In Vietnam, Son is more like a rock star. Young people born a generation after the war know his face and his music. They approach him on the street and shake his hand or pose with him while friends snap photos on mobile phones.
Madame Lien remains in the background and laughs at the notion that she still teaches her youngest son.
“Oh no, now he’s my master!” she says, giggling, as Son interrupts: “We play for each other!”
She spends about half the year in Montreal, Canada, where she lives with Son and can speak her native French. The rest of the time she’s in Hanoi with her daughter, Tran Thu Ha, who graduated with a doctorate from Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and later took over as head of Vietnam’s National Academy of Music.
Her other son, Tran Thanh Binh, the cellist who also lives in the capital, went on to become one of the country’s most sought-after architects. He designed the new 800-seat concert hall in his mother’s honor. It’s expected to open sometime this fall.
The matriarch performed her last solo concert just five years ago _ when she was 87 _ inside Hanoi’s elegant French colonial opera house. And her legacy lives on, with about 1,800 students now enrolled at the music school where some 200 lecturers teach.
Even today, as her tiny wrinkled fingers dance gracefully over the keys of the grand piano, the room is filled with the beautiful sound she’s creating _ her version of a Chopin etude, born from a long life touched by war and great peace.
And she’s not finished yet. Her 6-year-old granddaughter is her newest student.