"Tiến Quân Ca" ("Marching Song"), also known as the "Army March" and the "Song of Advancing Soldiers", is the national anthem of Vietnam, both written and composed by Văn Cao in 1944. The "Marching Song" was adopted as the national anthem of North Vietnam in 1945, and was adopted as the national anthem of the new Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976, following the reunification of both North Vietnam and South Vietnam at the end of the Vietnam War. Though the anthem has two verses, the first one is mainly sung.
|Tiến Quân Ca|
|English: Marching Song|
National anthem of Vietnam
Former national anthem of North Vietnam
|Lyrics||Văn Cao, 1944|
|Music||Văn Cao, 1944|
|Adopted||1946 (North Vietnam)
|Relinquished||1976 (North Vietnam)|
"Tiến Quân Ca" (instrumental)
The anthem's lyrics and title were based on Văn Cao's previous works, "Thăng Long". Part of the lyrics were also different during its early stages, as it went through numerous changes starting in the early 1940s.
"Tiến Quân Ca" went through many changes shortly after it was composed. For instance, the first sentence "Đoàn quân Việt Nam đi" was originally "Đoàn quân Việt Minh đi." The sixth part of the lyrics was also originally "Thề phanh thây uống máu quân thù", expressing the brutality of French colonial and pre-famine actions. After many suggestions, Văn Cao changed it to "Đường vinh quang xây xác quân thù". The last sentence "Tiến lên! Cùng tiến lên! Chí trai là nơi đây ước nguyền!" it was changed to "(...)Núi sông Việt Nam ta vững bền", but when it was published it was changed to "(...)Nước non Việt Nam ta vững bền!", which Văn Cao commented, "With a song that requires solemn, 'nước non' seemed too weak while being sung with 'núi sông' would be more reasonable."
After completion of work, Văn Cao met and let Vũ Quý try the song. Vũ Quý was very happy at his work, and "Tiến Quân Ca" was published in papers on November 1944 with lithographs by Văn Cao.
On August 17, 1945, the song was sung for the first time at a rally of civil servants in Hanoi by a Ph.D under the flag of the Việt Minh, and "robbed the loudspeakers". Văn Cao quoted, "That quiet man was an attraction to thousands of people listening that day".
The poet and musician Nguyễn Đình Thi was touched after hearing Văn Cao sing the song and asked each person to write another song for "The Viet Minh Frontline". He posted his own "Diệt Phát Xít", meaning "Killing Fascists". Văn Cao wrote "Chiến Sĩ Việt Nam", meaning "Vietnam Soldiers". Both songs are still popular and sung to the public today.
On September 2, 1945, marching was officially performed on the day of the Declaration of Independence at Ba Đình Square by the Liberation Army band commanded by Đinh Ngọc Liên. At the day before the performance, musicians Dinh Ngoc Lien, Nguyen Huu Hieu, and Văn Cao discussed for changing the two words in "Tiến Quân Ca" in order to shorten the song by shortening the length of the first E pitches in the word "đoàn" and the F in the middle of the word "xác" to make the song more "snappy".
In 1946, the 1st National Assembly officially recognized "Tiến Quân Ca" as the national anthem. In the first Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Article 3, it states directly about the national anthem. In 1955, the 5th session of the first National Assembly decided to invite authors to participate in another editing of the song. Văn Cao had regrets after this because the "heroic spirit" of the song had been lost after being edited.
After 1975, the government of South Vietnam fell, and on July 2, 1976, the two parties agreed to reunification (which lead to the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam)."Tiến Quân Ca" was chosen as the national anthem. In 1981, a contest was opened for a new national anthem but after more a year, it was and has never been mentioned again nor are there any official statement about the results. Thus, "Tiến Quân Ca" remains today as the national anthem of Vietnam.
On July 8, 2016, Painter Văn Thao, the eldest son of Văn Cao confirmed that he and his family were going to donate the song to their country and people as his father's last wish. A letter, signed by all the legal inheritors in the family, stated that the family would donate the song for free use.
Shortly after the "donation", the Vietnam Center for Protection of Music Copyright stated that the anthem would be under copyright protection regardless of the offer to "gift it" by Văn Cao's family. It states that only certain situations like ceremonies and school could be anthem will "from now on be subject to royalty". Veteran composers objected to the idea, saying that "people should be allowed to sing this song without worrying about royalty". However, Văn Cao said that his family "never reached consensus on 'gifting' the song, so they authorized the center to collect royalties on his father's songs".