Bengawan Solo (song)


Bengawan Solo (song)

Bengawan Solo is a famous Indonesian song about the Bengawan Solo River, which flows through central and eastern Java, Indonesia and is that island's longest river.

The song describes the legendary river in a poetic and nostalgic way, that it is surrounded by mountains, its sources are near the city of Surakarta, that it ends in the sea, and that the merchant class always makes use of it.

Written in 1940 by Gesang Martohartono, it is in the local kroncong style, a popular folk style with influences from Portuguese. The Japanese, who occupied the country during World War II, brought the song with them to Japan after returning from the war. There, and also in the rest of Asia and later worldwide, the song became very famous.

The song's widespread popularity began soon after its composition, and locally it is strongly associated with the period of war occupation and the society of the times. In 1940 Gesang, then a young, destitute and untrained musician, composed the song on a bamboo flute and began to sing it at local functions and gatherings in his hometown of Surakarta. It soon became well-known and liked among the local Javanese community; the song then achieved national acclaim after it was broadcast to a wider audience by various radio stations.

The melodies of the song also appealed to both the occupying Japanese soldiers, and the non-Indonesian prisoners (mainly Dutch civilians) in the internment camps. The song was taken back to Japan by the returning soldiers, where it (with the lyrics translated to Japanese) gained great popularity after various singers such as Toshi Matsuda released recorded versions of it which became best-sellers. The song has become almost synonymous with the perception of Indonesian music in Japan.

In 1991, a group of appreciative Japanese war veterans arranged for a statue of Martohartono to be erected in a park in Surakarta. Gesang himself was still resident in the city, now a nationally renowned figureref|AsianEconomic. Very many artists have recorded the song, among whom are Waldjinah, Toshi Matsuda, Anneke Grönloh, Rebecca Pan and Frances Yip.

"Bengawan Solo" is a popular name given to restaurants and businesses, in reminiscence of the song.

Trivia

* Bengawan Solo is the name of a popular chain of cake/pastry shops in Singapore.
* The tune became a big hit in the Chinese society after the Malaysian singer Ms Poon Sow Keng sang it in Mandarin (Chinese) for Hongkong Pathe in 1957, then further boosted by Ms Koo Mei, who made her rendition for Philips Record shortly after (Pathe and Philips were big competitors at that time). Since then many Chinese singers made their own versions and now the song is one of the best known Chinese oldies.
* An English-language version of the song, dating from early 1960s Hong Kong, has modified lyrics that describe a romantic evening beneath twinkling stars and swaying palms "by the river of love." The period recording by Rebecca Pan can be heard on the soundtrack to the 2000 movie "In the Mood for Love" by director Wong Kar Wai. Ms. Pan also has a role in the movie, playing Mrs. Suen.

Lyric

In Indonesian language; in the bracket is the English language translation. [ [http://www.angelfire.com/me/iwanfals/bs.html Bengawan Solo lyric] ] I V
Bengawan Solo (Bengawan Solo)IV IRiwayatmu ini (Your personal history)Sedari dulu jadi (Has been subjected from days old)Perhatian insani (To keen observation)

Musim kemarau (At dry season)Tak seb'rapa airmu (Not much water is in you)Di musim hujan, air (At rain season)meluap sampai jauh (Your waters flood over to yonder)

Ref: (Chorus) I IV Mata airmu dari Solo (Your well springs in Solo) V I Terkurung Gunung Seribu (Surrounded by Mts. Thousand) Air mengalir sampai jauh (Your water flows reaching far) IV V Akhirnya ke laut (To end in the sea)

Itu perahu (That's a boat)Riwayatmu dulu (This is your past history)Kaum pedagang s'lalu (The merchant class always)Naik itu perahu (Board on that boat)

ee also

* Music of Indonesia
* Music of Java

References

* [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0WDP/is_1999_Sept_6/ai_55894899 Asian Economic News article, 1999]


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