Cao Văn Lầu

Cao Văn Lầu (1892–1976), also known as Sáu Lầu (Lầu the Sixth in Vietnamese), was a Vietnamese musician. He was the original composer of the song vọng cổ which started a new genre of cải lương music in the 1920s.[1][2]

Vietnamese musician Cao Văn Lầu playing a Đàn nguyệt.
Tomb of Cao Văn Lầu and his wife in the Memorial area for the art of Đờn ca tài tử and musician Cao Văn Lầu in Bạc Liêu city, Bạc Liêu province, Vietnam.

He was born on 22 December 1892 in Long An province, French Cochinchina. At the age of 4, he moved to Bạc Liêu and spent all his life there. In Bạc Liêu, he studied Hán tự with a monk and then attended a French primary school. In 1907, Lầu stopped schooling because of his poverty. In 1908, he began learning music from local musician Lê Tài Khí and began his music career four year later. In 1913, he married a woman named Trần Thị Tấn.

Because Tấn was not pregnant after three year of marriage, Lầu was forced to send his wife back to her family due to local custom. This separation was inspired Cao Văn Lầu in comprising his best known love-song Dạ cổ hoài lang (Night Drum Beats Cause Longing for Absent Husband),[3] a song that have a great influence in cải lương music.[4] He died on August 13, 1976 in Bạc Liêu.[3]


  1. ^ Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia - Page 19 Craig A. Lockard - 1998 "The song that originated vong co was first composed by Cao Van Lau between 1917 and 1920, during the formative ...
  2. ^ Songs of the Caged, Songs of the Free: Music and the Vietnamese ... - Page 187 Adelaida Reyes - 1999 Vgng co ("longing for the past" or "nostalgia for the past") was originally an individual composition by Cao Van Lau (Sau Lau). It became part of cai ...
  3. ^ a b Nguyễn Tý. ""Nam bộ đất và người" – hay câu chuyện về Cao Văn Lầu" (in Vietnamese). Viet Nam Net. Archived from the original on 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-04-01.
  4. ^ Barker, Clive. New Theatre Quarterly 52. Vol. 13 part 4. Cambridge University Press. p. 379. ISBN 0-521-59729-3.

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