Today’s Doodle, illustrated by Indonesia-based guest artist Ykha Amelz, celebrates Indonesian composer Ismail Marzuki, whose patriotic songs established him as a national hero during the nation’s independence movement. On this day in 1968, the Indonesian government honored his legacy with the inauguration of what is now the Jakarta Art Center - Taman Ismail Marzuki (TIM), which serves as a hub for the preservation of Indonesia’s cultural heritage and creative innovation in fine arts, music, theatre, dance, and film.
Ismail Marzuki was born in Kwitang, Central Jakarta, Indonesia on May 11, 1914, when the region was under Dutch colonial rule. Although musical professions were uncommon in this community, Marzuki grew up practicing up to five hours a day to master eight instruments: harmonica, mandolin, guitar, ukulele, violin, accordion, saxophone, and piano. At 17, he composed the first of the over hundreds of songs he would produce throughout his career.
Marzuki’s songs captured the Indonesian struggle for independence with melancholic overtones while representing the nation’s resilience through soaring melodies. He filled Indonesian hearts with pride for years by broadcasting his songs (nine of which became national anthems) on public radio. In 1955, Marzuki took over as the leader of the prestigious Jakarta Studio Orchestra and composed the General Election song, the musical theme of Indonesia’s first independent elections.
To honor his cultural contributions, the Indonesian government named Marzuki a National Hero in 2004. Today, visitors can learn more about Marzuki at TIM, which exhibits his personal collection including handwritten songs and a few of his many instruments.
Here’s to you Ismail Marzuki—thank you for writing the soundtrack for Indonesian independence!
Guest Artist Q&A with Ykha Amelz
Today’s Doodle was illustrated by Indonesia-based guest artist Ykha Amelz. Below, she shares her thoughts behind the making of this Doodle:
Q. Why was this topic meaningful to you personally?
A. Because music holds a big part in my life and my work, plus also when I was a teenager I used to go to Ismail Marzuki Park near my house to go check out its old book store, catch a movie, see the planetarium, etc. The place holds many memories.
Q. What were your first thoughts when you were approached about working on this Doodle?
A. I was excited that it is about one of my favorite heroes and it's connected to music, which plays a huge part in my life.
Q. Did you draw inspiration from anything in particular for this Doodle?
A. I drew it while imagining his love of music. The spark he felt when he experienced a new instrument. I emphasized his romantic character by choosing the violin as his instrument for this Doodle.
Q. What message do you hope people take away from your Doodle?
A. Hopefully, when people see it, it will automatically replay one of Ismail Marzuki's songs in their head and be reminded of the fighting spirit that Ismazil Marzuki's had for local music and freedom of expression.
Early drafts of the Doodle: