Indonesian people should be grateful to the Netherlands. Thanks to cultural diplomacy conducted in the colonial period hundreds year ago when thye bring Gamelan to Europe. Not many people know that during the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, on March 31, 1889, Sari Oneng, Sundanese gamelan was exhibited at the French for the first time.
Gamelan is a set of traditional musical ensemble from Indonesia, especially Java and Bali Island. It consist of variety instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, kendang (drums) and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. The word Gamelan derived from javaness word “gamel” that means hit to produce sound.
Starting from a tea plantation administrator Parakan Salak Sukabumi, Adriaan Walrafen Holle a citizen of Netherland . He was fell in love and crazy about the Sundanese art and culture. He was the one who ordered gamelan from Sumedang.
And then Gustaf Mundt, the nest administrators who replaced Holle. Bring a collection of gamelan to several countries to enliven the exhibition of tea, coffee, and cocoa. These products are the main commodity, which give so many contribution to State. Two sets of gamelan brought into the exhibition in the Netherlands in 1883. Since then, one of them was never returned to Sukabumi. It was kept in the museum of Leiden, The Netherlands.
In 1889 two sets of Gamelan Sari Oneng with dozens of players or "nayaga" and the dancers transported ship to Paris, France. Trade, arts and culture mission of the Dutch East Indies enliven the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower. The museum is owned gamelan music in France. One set of gamelan returned back to Sukabumi and it is now stored in the Museum Prabu Geusan Ulun, Sumedang. During Gamelan performances in Paris, it has affected several songs of well-known French composers, namely Claude de Bussy. Wow, it will be better, if he combine these two different type of music.
Actually not only France, and Netherland that has a collection of old gamelan. In 1983, a set of gamelan has also appeared in Chicago USA, in the same event, Dutch tea exhibition. And the gamelan has not been returned to Indoneisa again. It become an antique collection of the museum in Chicago.
Gamelan has been hundreds years in Paris and Chichago, of course, many Americans and the French are now good in playing gamelan music. Is it right?!