Ismail Marzuki

Ismail Marzuki was the composer of national song “Indonesia Pusaka”. His birth-name was Ismail, while Marzuki was his father’s name. For some reasons, the two names gradually became fused. In Betawi cultures, people are usually named with only one word. However, it seems that people feel the need to modernize Ismail’s name. They attached his father’s name to Ismail’s name and he became Ismail Marzuki.

Ismail was a Betawi son born in the Kwitang area, Central Jakarta. He died in Kampung Bali, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta. His tomb is in Karet Public Cemetery, Central Jakarta. Ismail’s skills and abilities in his prime were juxtaposed with those of Bing Crosby, a musician, singer, songwriter, and actor from the same generation. Their appearances were also said to be similar.

However, Ismail’s life was not long. He died at the age of 44 in 1958 because of an illness. Even so, his legacy remains deep rooted in the present, especially through his songs. Ismail created no fewer than 200 songs. Indonesia Pusaka is one of the most famous. He was also good at composing songs with romantic nuances, in addition to songs of encouragement and love for the country. The romantic one is Aryati, which was somewhat a compulsory song on its time for guys falling in love with girls. There is also O Sarinah (his first composition) and Kopral Djono, Rayuan Pulau Kelapa, Juwita Malam, Gugur Bunga and others.

Arguably a remarkable achievement, Ismail’s songs came in diverse genres, from keroncong to swing. His compositions have long been enjoyed by listeners not only in Jakarta or Indonesia, but also in neighboring countries and even in Europe. Sometimes, the song lyrics are translated into local languages.

Memories of the songs live through ages. Former Jakarta governor Ali Sadikin in 1968 named an arts center in Jakarta after Ismail’s name, which until now stands gracefully in Cikini area. It is famously known as Taman Ismail Marzuki.