International Guitar Research Centre (IGRC) Conference
18th to 23rd March 2016
John Duarte’s contribution to the classical guitar repertoire in Malaysia:
Variations on a Malaysian song op. 125, ‘Getaran Jiwa’ and
Variations on an Indonesian song op. 124, ‘Gubahanku’
These two variations are the only two original pieces written for the classical guitar in Malaysia based on a Malaysian and an Indonesian song. There are no other original compositions written for the classical guitar based on either a Malaysian or an Indonesian song in Malaysia from my knowledge. Furthermore, as an event of note, the world premiere was performed in his presence in Malaysia by a Malaysian for Malaysians.
The presentation of this paper will be based on:
- Performance of these two pieces in a lecture-recital format by Simon Cheong.
- An explanation on how these two pieces came into being and the world premiere of both variations.
- The publication of these two pieces by the Classical Guitar Society (WP/Sel) Malaysia.
- The premiere recording.
Variations on a Malaysian Song, op. 125, ‘ Getaran Jiwa’ (1996) by John W. Duarte (1919-2004)
Var. 1, Cheerfully
Var. 2, Doloroso
Var. 3, Animato
Var. 4, Adagio Sereno
Finale, Tempo di Valse
Variations on an Indonesian Song, op. 124, ‘Gubahanku’ (1996) by John W. Duarte (1919-2004)
Theme, Moderato amabile
Var. 1, Giocoso
Var. 2, Valse Sentimentale
Var. 3, Alla Marcia
Var. 4, Lento e Calmo
Finale, Moderato con moto
Keywords – Malaysian classical guitar music, John W. Duarte, Variations on a Malaysian Song, Getaran Jiwa, op. 125, Variations on an Indonesian Song, op. 124, ‘Gubahanku’, Simon Cheong, world premiere performance, world premiere recording, publications, lecture-recital and International Guitar Research Centre (IGRC) Conference 2016
The Importance of these pieces
Both of these pieces by John Duarte, Variations on a Malaysian Song, op. 125, ‘ Getaran Jiwa’ and Variations on an Indonesian Song, op. 124, ‘Gubahanku’ create a milestone for the classical guitar in Malaysia by just being the first two international concert pieces written for Malaysians. This significance is more keenly felt when one realises that the classical guitar repertoire in Malaysia was next to nothing in existence until the arrival of these two pieces! Even more so, as in a historical context, John Duarte was an international figure.
The importance of these two pieces is further enhanced as they were composed as a variation based on a Malaysian and an Indonesian song, giving international exposure to both the songs and its composers (the Malaysian singer, songwriter and actor, P. Ramlee and the Indonesian singer songwriter Broery Marantika).
The commissioning of a work
In 1996, the Classical Guitar Society (WP/Sel) Malaysia had the good providence to receive a sponsorship from Toyota Malaysia. With this sponsorship, germinated a world premiere and the commissioning of a piece from none other than my own teacher!
As ideas ran through my head about getting Jack to compose a piece for a world premiere, I was thinking about something that he could write based on a Malaysian tune. I then sent to Jack a few pieces to choose from, which were Tanah Pusaka, Rasa Sayang and Gubahanku. Gubahanku was chosen but later I discovered that it was an Indonesian piece and Rasa Sayang’s origins is disputed. I then sent to Jack Getaran Jiwa, Putera Putri and Legenda. Jack chose Getaran Jiwa. When he arrived in Kuala Lumpur, he handed to me both freshly bound photocopies of his handwritten works and said to me, ‘You can have both for the price of one’!
The World Premiere
A world premiere of Variations on a Malaysian Song op 125, ‘Getaran Jiwa’ was held at the Grand Ballroom, Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on 4 December 1996 at 8.00 p.m. with the composer in attendance. This was performed by Simon Cheong’s student. It was to be quite a few years later that the world premiere of Variations on an Indonesian Song op124, ‘Gubahanku’ was presented. This was at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Auditorium, Malaysia Tourism Centre, Kuala Lumpur on 9 December 2008 at 8.30 p.m. by Simon Cheong.
Before Jack left Malaysia after the world premiere and the Society’s Guitar Camp on 1996, I asked him for permission to publish the commissioned piece (both pieces) and he obligingly said yes, plus he gave me a free hand with no strings attached to publishing the pieces. He did mention to me that these pieces most probably would not have any commercial value worldwide but would be of local interest only. Sadly, I never published the pieces until after his death. (These pieces may not have commercial value but nevertheless are not only of local interest but now as evidenced, of historical value. Not just locally but internationally as JD is an international figure and has his place in history).
The permission to publish the pieces was made in my home on a couch as I asked Jack for his autograph on the cover of the bound handwritten photocopies of which he wrote – “I look forward to the day when most members of this admirable society can play this piece which is in fact their property.” (John Duarte, 10/12/1996) on the cover of Getaran Jiwa and “It does not really matter that this tune is not Malaysian – music is music and national differences don’t count. Your Society and its organisers not least Simon Cheong deserve every support we can all give to them.” (John Duarte, 10/12/1996) on the cover of Gubahanku.
Variations on a Malaysian Song op 125, ‘Getaran Jiwa’ was published in October 2008 (ISBN 978-983-43715-2-4) and Variations on an Indonesian Song op124, ‘Gubahanku’ was published in November 2008 (ISBN 978-983-43715-3-1). Both pieces are published by Classical Guitar Society (WP/Sel) Malaysia under Edition Simon Cheong.
The Premiere Recording
The world premiere on recording for Variations on an Indonesian Song op124, ‘Gubahanku’ was recorded at Kulturhaus NIHZ, Nordhorn, Germany on 19 April 2014 in Simon Cheong’s CD entitled ‘Gubahanku’. Produced by Bobby Rootveld (Samsong Productions).
The world premiere on recording for Variations on a Malaysian Song op 125, ‘Getaran Jiwa’ was recorded at Holy Trinity Church, Weston, Hertfordshire, England 14-16 March 2016 and is produced and engineered by John Taylor (UK) in Simon Cheong’s CD entitled ‘Getaran Jiwa’. This CD will be released when production is completed.
The performance of these pieces after the premieres
Variations on a Malaysian Song op 125, ‘Getaran Jiwa’ had its first performance outside of Malaysia in Thailand by Ernest Thomas at the Bangkok International Guitar Festival on 18 July 2009, Phranakhon Grand View, situated in the historical setting of Thailand’s first Teacher’s Training Institute, Rajabhat Phranakhon, founded by King Rama V in 1892.
Another performance of it was by Nathan Fischer at Szeged International Guitar Festival, Szeged, Hungary on 11 April 2014 and from 24-30 July 2015, Hong Tee played it in England and was supposed to have performed this work there.
This piece was also presented by Simon at the Bangalore International Guitar Festival, India 2015 (13-17 December) as part of the Indian Guitar Federation’s festivals.
In presenting his lecture-recital here at the ‘International Guitar Research Centre Convention 2016’,
Simon Cheong played both the variations. Variations on an Indonesian Song op124, ‘Gubahanku’ was heard for the first time in England, the home where it was composed.
Simon first presented Variations on an Indonesian Song op 124. ‘Gubahanku’ at the Bangkok International Guitar Festival on 18 July 2009, and then, it was presented at Gitarrenfestival Nordhorn 25-27 April 2014 and in the 1st Saigon International Guitar Festival 2014 (12-16 Nov)
A paper on Variations on a Malaysian Song op 125, ‘Getaran Jiwa’
There was a paper published in Malaysia Music Journal, Fakulti Muzik dan Seni Persembahan
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjong Malim, Perak 35900, Malaysia (Nathan Fischer – Getaran Jiwa P3-2-MMJ) – Pride, Pedagogy, and Performance: Getaran Jiwa, Variations on a Malaysian Song, Op. 125 by John Duarte. This paper was presented by Nathan William Fischer, Faculty of Music, Universiti Teknologi MARA.
In answer to this paper, I had written – Critique, Commentary and Rectification on Nathan William Fischer’s Pride, Pedagogy and Performance: Getaran Jiwa, Variations on a Malaysian Song op. 125, John Duarte’
This paper Critique, Commentary and Rectification has been submitted to Malaysia Music Journal on 22 September 2015 (the deadline for submission for Volume 4 Number 2 was 30 August 2015). I then wrote in to the then Chief Editor Dr. Jean Penny expressing my hope that my paper would be published in the December 2015 volume. But it was not published and I found out that my submission was too late. I then wrote to the new Chief Editor Dr. Clare Chan and re-sent to her a copy of my paper and hope for it to be published in the June 2016 volume.
I do hope that Malaysia Music Journal will publish my paper as I believe that those interested in John Duarte’s Variations on a Malaysian Song op. 125, ‘Getaran Jiwa’ would come across Nathan’s paper while searching on the net and be mislead by Nathan’s faulty presentation and would then have my paper for assessment.
Duarte, J. (2008). Getaran Jiwa: Variations on a Malaysian Song Op 125 (1996) for Solo Guitar. [Music Score]. S. Cheong, (Ed.). Kuala Lumpur: Classical Guitar Society Malaysia (WP/Sel) Malaysia, edition Simon Cheong (CGS).
Duarte, J. (2008). Getaran Jiwa: Variations on a Malaysian Song Op 125 (1996) for Solo Guitar. [Unpublished Music Manuscript]. This bound photocopy of the manuscript in John Duarte’s original hand and with his autograph written in ink on the cover is in the private possession of Simon Cheong, Kuala Lumpur: Classical Guitar Society Malaysia (WP/Sel) Malaysia.
Duarte, J. (2008). Gubahanku: Variations on an Indonesian Song Op 124 (1996) for Solo Guitar. [Music Score]. S. Cheong, (Ed.). Kuala Lumpur: Classical Guitar Society Malaysia (WP/Sel) Malaysia, edition Simon Cheong (CGS).
Duarte, J. (2008). Gubahanku: Variations on an Indonesian Song Op 124 (1996) for Solo Guitar. [Unpublished Music Manuscript]. This bound photocopy of the manuscript in John Duarte’s original hand and with his autograph written in ink on the cover is in the private possession of Simon Cheong, Kuala Lumpur: Classical Guitar Society Malaysia (WP/Sel) Malaysia.
Simon Cheong, A Malaysian Guitarist Gubahanku CD Produced by Bobby Rootveld (Samsong Productions). Recorded at Kulturhaus NIHZ, Nordhorn, Germany on 19 April 2014
Ramlee, P. (n.d.). Getaran Jiwa. [Music Score]. Arranged by Gus Steyn. Editor unknown. Lagu-Lagu Rakyat (pp. 40-44). Location unknown.
Broery Marantika Gubahanku – The classical guitar arrangement I have did not have the arranger’s name nor was it from a book but was handwritten. It was a simple arrangement that was transformed and its essence captured by John Duarte!
Classical Guitar Society (WP/Sel) Malaysia Guitar Camp 1996 – The annual event which the Society organises was held at Fraser’s Hill, Pahang on 6-8 December.
 This comment is my personal opinion backed by my 40 over years of active involvement in the classical guitar in Malaysia and to my knowledge. If there were any of real importance, it has not come to my attention.
 John Duarte was also fondly known as Jack.
 I had a very simple classical guitar arrangement that was handwritten and the arranger unknown that I had sent to Jack.
 Lagu lagu Rakyat Malaysia 2 (number 11 in the contents page) published by Kementerian Kebudayaan, Belia dan Sukan Malaysia (Translated to Series – Malaysian Songs volume 2 published by Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Malaysia).
 As the music was composed and sent to me, I taught my student (Chua May Ling) to play the piece as well as prepared the student for performance and made the programme from the student’s repertoire.
 During the publication process, I was in contact with Christopher Duarte (John Duarte’s son, also a musician) by email, and he checked through the manuscript before print.
 These performances are the ones I know of but the books are available for sale since publication and some are to be found in quite a few countries as I have gifted it to some well-known performers.
 Ernest Thomas was Simon’s student and was also part of the Kuala Lumpur Guitar Ensemble II’s performance at this festival.
 An American guitarist who has been contracted to lecture the guitar at University Technology MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
 Hong Tee is a Malaysian guitarist who had studied with John Mills in London. She mentioned to me that she will be playing the piece in England after she bought the book at the Calcutta International Guitar Festival 2014 where as a featured artist, I had my books and CD for sale.
 When and if Malaysia Music Journal publishes Critique, Commentary and Rectification on Nathan William Fischer’s Pride, Pedagogy and Performance: Getaran Jiwa, Variations on a Malaysian Song op. 125, John Duarte’ by Simon Cheong, I will place links in my website www.simoncheong.com and into the Classical Guitar Society Malaysia’s website www.cgs.net.my.