Born on October 5, 1921 in Hanoi, Pham Duy was the youngest out of five children. His father was the acclaimed progressive journalist, Pham Duy Ton, who had passed away while Pham Duy was just two years old. Pham Duy was raised primarily by his older brother, acclaimed Francophone writer, professor and once Vietnam's ambassador to France, Pham Duy Khiem. He graduated from Thang Long High School and furthered his studies at the College of the Arts in Hanoi and the Institut de Musicologie in Paris, France.
It was when Pham Duy left North Vietnam to resettle in Saigon that he reached his peak in his career as a songwriter. Among his most popular musical compositions included Ao Anh Sut Chi Duong Ta, Tinh Hoai Huong, Ky Vat Cho Em, Giot Mua Tren La, Con Chut Gi De Nho, Con Duong Tinh Ta Di, Hoa Rung Ven Song, Tha Nhu Giot Mua, Chuyen Tinh Buon, Tra Lai Em Yeu, Vet Thu Tren Lung Ngua Hoang and Mua Thu Chet, a song first made popular with the original recording by his daughter-in-law, singer Julie Quang. Prior to 1975, Pham Duy had also been the host of a popular television musical variety program based in Saigon which showcased guest appearances of many top performers of South Vietnam.
Pham Duy had also been the driving force behind the formation of a popular music group in Saigon known as The Dreamers. The group's original members consisted of two of his sons, Duy Quang and Duy Cuong, along with Julie Quang and her younger sister, Veny. Later members of the group would include his daughters, Thai Hien and Thai Thao. Married to singer Thai Hang, the older sister of legendary chanteuse Thai Thanh, from 1949 until her death in 1999, Pham Duy had fathered eight children.
After leaving Vietnam in 1975, Pham Duy and his family resettled in Orange County, California for 30 years. His music had been banned in Vietnam during the entire time he had lived abroad. In 2005, Pham Duy had announced his repatriation to Vietnam along with his eldest son, Duy Quang. It was then that the Vietnamese government finally began to lift the ban on his songs in Vietnam. Pham Duy passed away on January 21, 2013 at the age of 91 in Ho Chi Minh City after a long battle with heart disease and liver failure. His eldest son, Duy Quang, had preceded his death just seven weeks prior.
Pham Duy's Official Website