Sumarsam (born 27 July 1944) is a Javanese musician and scholar of the gamelan.[1][2][3]

Birth nameSumarsam
BornDander, Bojonegoro, East Java, Indonesia
Occupation(s)Professor, writer and performer
Years active1951–present


Sumarsam was born in Dander, Bojonegoro, East Java, Indonesia. He first performed gamelan at the age of seven. He began his formal gamelan education in 1961 at the Konservatori Karawitan Indonesia (KOKAR, now Sekolah Menengah Karawitan Indonesia) in Surakarta. He graduated in 1964 and began to teach, and in 1965 began to study at the newly opened Akademi Seni Karawitan Indonesia (ASKI, now Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia in Surakarta). He graduated in 1968 and did some co-teaching with Martopangrawit. ASKI participated in government programs to promote Indonesian culture abroad, and in 1970 Sumarsam was invited to Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan, where he worked seven months. In 1971 he was invited to teach at the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, Australia. Afterwards he moved to the United States to become a visiting artist at Wesleyan University.

Inspired by Western academia, he pursued a master's degree in world music from Wesleyan University from 1974 to 1976. He graduated with the thesis "Inner Melody in Javanese Gamelan." He continued teaching and performing at various universities in the United States, and was made an artist-in-residence at Wesleyan in 1976.

From 1983 he began working on a Ph.D. from Cornell University in ethnomusicology and Southeast Asian Studies. His thesis was "Historical Contexts and Theories of Javanese Music." It was later revised and published as Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java.[4][5]

He was made adjunct professor at Wesleyan in 1992, University Professor in 2011, and Professor of Music in 2016,[6][7][8] where he now (2017) serves as Winslow-Kaplan Professor of Music. In September 2017, the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture is honoring him with a Cultural and Traditional Arts Maestro Award (Satyalancana Kebudayaan).[9]


  • Sumarsan (1984), "Inner Melody in Javanese Gamelan", in Becker, Judith; Feinstein, Alan (eds.), Source Readings in Javanese Gamelan and Vocal Music, 1, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, ISBN 978-0-89148-027-3
  • Sumarsan (1995) [1992]. Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-78011-5.
  • Sumarsan (2004), "Opportunity and Interaction: The Gamelan from Java to Wesleyan", in Solís, Ted (ed.), Performing Ethnomusicology, University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-23831-2


  1. "Wesleyan professors presents two evenings of Indonesian shadow". Bates College. 2003-01-22.
  2. Samarsam (2008-10-17). "Gambang" (video). Wesleyan University. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  3. Samarsam (2008-10-17). "Gender" (video). Wesleyan University. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  4. Sumarsam (1992). Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-78010-8.
  5. Mrázek, Jan (Fall/Winter 1995/1996). "Book Review: Sumarsan. Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java". Asian Music. University of Texas Press/JSTOR. XXVII (1): 153–156. JSTOR 834500. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. The New York Times. Reuters. 2011-08-19 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. "Sumarsam, Prof.: University Professor of Music". Wesleyan University. Archived from the original on 2012-11-06. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
  8. Drake, Olivia (2016-11-29). "Board of Trustees Confers Tenure on 4 Faculty". Wesleyan University. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  9. Drake, Olivia (2017-09-18). "Sumarsam Honored for Contributing, Fostering Traditional Indonesian Culture". News@Wesleyan. Wesleyan University. Retrieved 2017-11-30.
  • Sumarsam. Gamelan: Cultural Interaction and Musical Development in Central Java. The preface contains autobiographical details.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.