Michael Asmara

(b. 17 June 1956, Jakarta).

Indonesian composer, now resident in both Indonesia and Japan, of stage, orchestral, chamber, choral, vocal, piano, and multimedia works that have been performed in Asia and elsewhere.

Mr. Asmara studied composition at the Indonesian Institute of the Arts in Yogyakarta from 1980–83.

Among his honours is First Prize in the competition of the Humorous Dance Festival in Jakarta (1986, for Clapping Dance). His music has been performed in Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, including twice at the Asian Music Festival (2003, Tōkyō; 2005, Thailand). He has received commissions from Ensemble Omega in Germany, Izumi Hall in Ōsaka, pianists Nadya Janitra and Kees Wieringa, Shin Nakagawa/Gamelan Marga Sari in Ōsaka, and double-bassist Allan Von Schenkel, among other ensembles, organisations and soloists.

He is also active in other positions. He founded the Yogyakarta Contemporary Music Festival in 2003 and has served as its director since 2003.

He gave guest lectures at Ōsaka University in 2003 and at a workshop for composers in New Zealand in 2003.


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Floods (text by Gentong Haryo Seno Ali, choreography by Synthia M. T. Sumukti), theatre cast (+ kentongan [alarm drums made of bamboo from Indonesia]), dance troupe (+ kentongan, lesung [rice mortars from Indonesia]), performance art (by Bambang Prashidi, Achmad Sururi), mixed chorus (+ angklung [set of bamboo tubes from Indonesia]), flute, oboe, bassoon, guitar, string orchestra, 1984

Clapping Dance, human body, 1986

Love (text by Khalil Gibran [Bahasa Indonesia translation], choreography by Synthia M. T. Sumukti), 2 male speakers, dance troupe, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, piano, 1987

Piece for playing (Gending Dolanan) (choreography by the composer), dancer, piano, any number of gamelan instruments (in mixed tunings), audience, 1994

Interaction, motorcycle, volunteer from the audience (+ any number of gamelan instruments [in mixed tunings]), any number of gamelan instruments (in mixed tunings), participating audience, 1999

Niji – Rainbow (text by Shin Nakagawa [also translated by the composer]; all players also dance), pesindhèn (female voice from Indonesia), gamelan (in mixed tunings) (+ any number of small bells), 2003

Cooking Music (11 pieces involving the preparation of food; player also speaks about food), player (with kitchen utensils, foods, water, tea, metronome, handbell), lit candle, participating audience, 2004


Symphony No. 1, bonang barung (in mixed tunings) (rack of small tuned gongs from Indonesia), slenthem (in mixed tunings) (metallophone from Indonesia), saron panerus (in mixed tunings) (metallophone from Indonesia), large orchestra (87 players), 1992

Étude for Orchestra, small orchestra, 2012


String Quartet No. 7, 1996

String Quartet No. 2, Op. 24, 1998

Fantasia, string quartet, 1999

Night Music for Marzenka (Trio for Gendèr) (metallophones from Indonesia), 3 gendèr, 2002

A Piece for 15 Rebab (2-string instruments from Indonesia), 15 rebab, 2002

Music for String Quartet, Rebab and Wind Trio, flute, clarinet, French horn, rebab, string quartet, 2002

For an Orphan in the Battle No. 2, clarinet, bass clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, French horn, 2 trumpets, trombone, tuba, 2 violins, viola, cello, piano, 2004

The Evening Sleeps So Peacefully, trombone, stones (4 players), participating audience, 2004

Solo III, cello, 2005

A piece for Bonang, bonang barung, 2006

A Short Piece for Bass, double bass, 2006

Duo, violin, piano, 2006

Three pieces for solo violin, violin, 2008

Plumeria Acuminata, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, violin, double bass, percussion, 2011

Quartet, flute, violin, cello, piano, 2012, revised 2015

Dongeng sebelum tidur – A Tale before Sleep, violin, live electronics, 2012

Jessamine, piano, string quartet, 2013

Merapi, flute (+ alto flute), oboe (+ English horn), clarinet (+ bass clarinet), violin, viola, cello, piano, percussion, 2013

A Short Letter, cello, 2015

Quintet No. 3, clarinet, violin, cello, piano, 2016

The Feet of the Rainbow, bassoon, bonang barung, 2016

Lament II, flute, piano, marimba, 2017

Trio, violin, cello, piano, 2017


Illusion No. 2 (text by Kanjeng Gusti Pangeran Adipati Mangkunegara IV), mixed chorus, guitar, violin, organ, Op. 1, 1983

Mantra for the Opening (text from an anonymous source from Java), mixed chorus, gendèr (in mixed tunings), saron demung (in mixed tunings) (metallophone from Indonesia), 3 vibraphones, 3 xylophones, 2 marimbas, 1990

Asobu – Playing (vocalise), children's chorus, gamelan (in mixed tunings), 2003


Thinking of You (texts from the Ilir-ilir [song from Java by Sunan Kalijaga], the Asmaradana [collection of sung poetry from Java] [translated by the composer]; pianist must be young), pesindhèn (+ gendèr [in mixed tunings], crotales, gong ageng [gong with freely-vibrating sounds from Indonesia]), boy soprano, 13 children's voices, flute (+ suling [in mixed tunings] [bamboo flute from Southeast Asia], crotales, gong ageng), piano (+ crotales, gong ageng, gendèr [tuned in pelog]) (any player + kethuk [gong from Indonesia]), 1996

Homecoming (text by Wisława Szymborska [English translation]; all players also speak), any 13 instruments with different pitches, 1997

Statue (text by Gerrit Achterberg [English translation]), mezzo-soprano, flute, harp, viola, 2004

When the Clouds Move to Cover the Stars (text from an anonymous source from Java), pesindhèn, 2 bonang barung (in mixed tunings), 2 saron panerus (in mixed tunings), 2 saron barung (in mixed tunings) (metallophones from Indonesia), 2 saron demung (in mixed tunings), 2 slenthem (in mixed tunings), gong ageng (with 2 candles), participating audience, 2004

Trio (text by Dan Albertson), soprano, clarinet (+ bass clarinet), cello, 2010


The Drunken Waltzer, 1984

For an Orphan in the Battle, 1986

The River, 1986

Moving, 1996

After the Dreams, 1997

Lamentation for Maya Devi, 1997

A Little Piece for Pianoforte, 2000

A Little Piece for Pianoforte No. 2, 2001

A Piece for Piano No. X, 2003

Two short pieces for pianoforte No. V, 2005

Volcano, 2011–17


The Resistance of Substance (text by Asmara Hadi), pesindhèn, tenor, 2–5 actors, crying–singing noises (2/3 children), crying noises (3/4 children), fighting noises (6 women, 6 men), gendèr, 3 kentongan, motorcycle (4–7 riders), radio (3 operators), siren (2 operators), signal light, 1988

Quintet (text by Raden Ngabei Yosodipuro I), pesindhèn, wiraswara (male voice), piano, any unpitched instrument, any number of gamelan instruments (in mixed tunings), participating audience, 1989

Prelude (texts from the Dhandanggula turulare [collection of sung poetry from Java]), wiraswara, piano, xylophone, marimba, tubular bells, any number of gamelan instruments (in mixed tunings), 1991


Niji. Shin Nakagawa/Gamelan Marga Sari (Gamelan Marga Sari, 2003)

A Piece for Piano No. X; A Little Piece for Pianoforte. Steffen Schleiermacher, piano (Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm: MDG 613 1322-2, 2005)