Ismail Marzuki

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Ismail Marzuki
Ismail Marzuki.jpg
Ismail Marzuki, unknown year
Background information
Born Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Died 25 May 1958(1958-05-25) (aged 44)
Occupation(s) Composer, songwriter
Years active 1931–1958

Ismail Marzuki (also known as Bang Ma'ing; 11 May 1914 – 25 May 1958) was an Indonesian composer, songwriter and musician who wrote between 202 and 240 songs between 1931 and 1958, including numerous popular patriotic songs. Among his best-known works are "Gugur Bunga" and "Rayuan Pulau Kelapa". In 1968, he was honoured with the creation of the well-known Taman Ismail Marzuki (the Ismail Marzuki Park, often called TIM) which is a cultural centre in Menteng in central Jakarta. In 2004 he was declared one of the National Heroes of Indonesia.


Marzuki was born in Kwitang, Jakarta (formerly known as Batavia) to a wealthy Betawi family. His father Marzuki owned an automobile repair shop, and played the rebana; his mother died while giving birth to him.[1] From a young age Marzuki enjoyed music, listening to songs repeatedly on the family's gramophone and learning to play the rebana, ukulele, and guitar.[1]

Marzuki studied at an elementary school for Native Indonesians, the Hollandsch-Inlandsche School Idenburg in Menteng; he later attended the Dutch-language middle school Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs on Menjangan Street in Jakarta.[2] He became fluent in Indonesian, English, and Dutch.[3] He also studied religion at Unwanul Wustha Madrasah.[2] However, he did not study music formally, instead learning by himself.[4]

In 1931, Marzuki wrote his first song, "O Sarinah", which was about a suffering people. During his career he wrote between 202 and 204 songs. Among his most famous compositions are "Rayuan Pulau Kelapa" (1944, Solace on Coconut Island), "Gugur Bunga di Taman Bakti" (1945, The Fallen Flower in Bakti Garden), and "Selendang Sutera" (1946, A Coil of Silk).[2]

Marzuki started his music career by joining the Lief Java orchestra, under the direction of Hugo Dumas. In 1934 he became a broadcaster with Nederlandsch-Indische Radio Omroep Maatschappij, the national radio station of the Dutch East Indies, and afterwards led the Jakarta Studio Orchestra, the Bandung Studio Orchestra, and later the Hoso Kanri Kyoku orchestra during Japanese occupation of Indonesia.[2]

Marzuki's grave in Karet Bivak Cemetery

In 1957 Marzuki wrote his last song, "Inikah Bahagia" (Is This Happiness). He died at 14:00 on 25 May 1958 in his house in Tanah Abang, Jakarta. He is buried in Karet Bivak Cemetery.[5]


Marzuki's anthems are full of patriotism and love for Indonesia, with a spirit of unity and harmony. They are easy to remember,[3] with simple lyrics and melodies.[5] The scales are generally mid-range, making the songs easier to sing.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Marzuki married Eulis Zuraidah, a Sundanese keroncong singer and orchestra leader from Bandung, in 1931. His wife became the inspiration of his Sundanese song "Panon Hideung", which is the Sundanese version of Dark Eyes. He re-arranged the song in new lyrics but with the same title in Sundanese ("Panon Hideung" literally means "Black Eyes").[2][6]

Marzuki enjoyed collecting musical instruments. His collection included guitars, mandolins, flutes, clarinets, saxophones, accordions, and a piano.[6]

He was known for being fiercely nationalistic, once selling gado-gado with his wife instead of cooperating with the Dutch-allied Nederlandsch Indië Civil Administratie during the Indonesian National Revolution.[5] However, he also had a romantic side, writing songs like "Kalau Anggrek Berbunga" (c. 1942–1945, When the Orchid Blossoms), "Jauh di Mata Di Hati Jangan" (1947, Far from the Eyes (But Not the Heart) and "Siasat Asmara" (1948, Love's Tactics).[6]


Marzuki has been described as "having good instincts for music",[4] as well as a "genius"[7] and "legendary".[8]

A large number of Marzuki's songs have been rerecorded and released in different genres, including pop music and keroncong,[9] such as"Kr. Pasar Gambir dan Stambul Anak Jampang" (Kroncong of Gambir Market and Stambul of the Cowlicked Child) which was covered by Chrisye on the album Dekade with arrangement by Erwin Gutawa.[10] Several of his songs, including "Gugur Bunga", "Melati di Tapal Batas", "Selendang Sutra", "Pahlawan Muda", "Rayuan Pulau Kelapa", and "Waktu Malam", are considered compulsory and taught in schools.[11]

On 17 August 1961 Marzuki received the first Wijaya Kusuma award from President Suharto.[4] He was honoured posthumously in 1968 with the opening of Taman Ismail Marzuki, a cultural centre and park in central Jakarta.[12] He was recognized as a National Hero of Indonesia in November 2004 by declaration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.[13]

List of composed songs[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sw 2006, p. 58
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ismail Marzuki" (in Indonesian). Jakarta City Government. Retrieved 11 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c Sw 2006, p. 61
  4. ^ a b c Sw 2006, p. 62
  5. ^ a b c Sw 2006, p. 60
  6. ^ a b c Sw 2006, p. 59
  7. ^ Harry Bhaskara (30 August 2009). "Jubing shines in his third 'Delman' album". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Kornelius Purba (4 September 2002). "RI's ignored heritage". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 12 July 2011. 
  9. ^ Sw 2006, p. 63
  10. ^ ‹See Tfm›Dekade (Media notes). Chrisye. Musica Studios. 2002. 
  11. ^ G. & Yanti 2006, p. Table of contents
  12. ^ Asmara, Cobina Gillitt (1995), "Tradisi Baru: A "New Tradition" of Indonesian Theatre", Asian Theatre Journal, 12 (1) 
  13. ^ Unidjaja, Fabiola Desy (11 November 2004), "Composer, freedom fighters declared heroes", The Jakarta Post 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Esha 2005, p. 104
  15. ^ Esha 2005, p. 110
  16. ^ Esha 2005, p. 121
  17. ^ a b Esha 2005, p. 119
  18. ^ Esha 2005, p. 109
  19. ^ a b Esha 2005, p. 113
  20. ^ Esha 2005, p. 111
  21. ^ Esha 2005, p. 112
  22. ^ Esha 2005, p. 125

External links[edit]