Eric Henry started playing piano at seven. By high school all he did was make music and read Charles Dickens.
The United States Army ordered him into the classroom to learn Vietnamese. After interviewing deserters and prisoners of war at Cu Chi, Xuan Loc and Dong Ha he graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College with a thesis on the Tale of Kieu.
He earned his doctorate in East Asian Languages and Literatures at Yale University while playing organ for a church. In New Haven he made friends with a music librarian who had been left for dead when an army of Chinese with wooden spears over-ran the United Nations.
He made friends also with Huynh Sanh Thong who had married a piano teacher then devoted himself to Kieu, talent bobbing on the sea of fate. Thong published Eric’s “On the Nature of the Kieu Story” in his Viet Nam Forum.
At the University of North Carolina for thirty years Eric developed both Chinese and Vietnamese language instruction. His own courses on Chinese historical legend and East Asian popular music grew to enrollments of over one hundred.
Crossroads later published his “Chinese and Indigenous Influences in Vietnamese Verse Romances of the 19th Century.” For our Viet Nam Literature Seminar he twice explained the plot and prosody and compared different translations of the Tale of Kieu.
Pham Duy, musician of the People’s Army then Saigon then the flight overseas, asked Eric to translate his memoirs which Eric annotated as well. The English versions are not yet in print but see Eric’s articles “Tan Nhac: Notes Toward a Social History of Vietnamese Music in the 20th Century” in Michigan Quarterly Review and “Pham Duy and Modern Vietnamese History” in Southeastern Review of Asian Studies and in Vietnamese at Talawas.
Thong made Vietnamese Studies dance from his Hamden studio as Pham Duy has scored the modern history of Viet Nam. In his library Eric arranges for English speakers to sing along.