Andjar Any

Selamat Jalan Andjar Any
Anjar Any, one of Indonesia’s most prolific writers, died in Solo on November 13th 2008. Whilst well regarded for his short stories and poetry, he was most widely known for his lyrics for keroncong songs. In his final days, family and close friends serenaded the 74 year old with some of his favorite keroncong songs and among those at his side was Waljinah, the Queen of Keroncong, who sang the very popular ‘Jangkrik Genggong’. Within three months of Andjar Any’s death Niek Piyatni, his beloved wife and companion of 50 years, had also died.

Born in Ponorogo, Andjar Any displayed a strong interest in writing at a young age and began his working life as a journalist. He produced over 2,450 pieces including 1000 songs, most of which were in the keroncong style. 

During the 1960s Andjar Any collaborated with local vocalist Waldjinah, a partnesrhip that produced thousands of songs, including the still popular ‘Yen Ing Tawang Ono Lintang’ and ‘Jangkrik Genggong’ . Usually sung coquettishly by Waljinah, Jangkrik Genggong was in fact a satirical parody of the situation in the early days of the New Order regime when a number of politicians were wavering between their loyalty to Sukarno and to Suharto. It tells of a very large but cowardly cricket that chirps noisily during the quiet of night but becomes silent when another creature, especially a human, approaches.

Through one of those quirks of coincidence that frequently occur in Indonesia, I met Andjar Any. It was November 2006 and I was in Solo to gather information on the local keroncong scene. I’d taken time out to buy batik at the bustling and chaotic Pasar Klewer and, after a random choice of stall-holder, selected the material and negotiated a price. While wrapping the goods in newspaper and string, the stall-holder asked the reason for my visit. ‘You must meet my uncle, Andjar Any’ she said, grasping my hand and threading a path through the crowds and countless batik stalls. We emerged into daylight only to plunge into the darkness of a small office on the side of the market where I was introduced to Andjar Any’s daughter. Within minutes, she had phoned her father, called in her becak driver (always at the ready on the street in front of the office) and I was on my way to Andjar Any’s house.

The diminutive Niek Piyatni ushered me in and introduced her son, a doctor, who explained that a number of ailments had virtually put an end to his father’s career. Shortly afterwards Anjar Any appeared, walking with great difficulty and in obvious ill-health. His voice was almost inaudible, the result of a chronic breathing problem.

However, over a cup of tea Andjar Any garnered his energy and was soon quite animatedly telling his story, showing photos and some of the many awards he had received, including those from Presidents Suharto and Megawati Sukarnoputri. He provided a wonderful snapshot into his life, especially of his passion for writing. When inspired he used to stop everything to ‘go with the moment’ and could finish off a song in several hours. He still received the occasional commission to compose for special events. Andjar Any assured me that although keroncong appeared to have waned in popularity, the scene in Solo was alive and well, with many younger musicians taking up the music and being supported by older players. The role of HAMKRI (The Association of Keroncong Artists in Indonesia), which he helped establish and chaired for its first 12 years is, he added, instrumental to the survival of keroncong.
After taking a number of photos I departed, honoured to have met an Indonesian musical legend.
© keronconginsolo 2014

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