"Indonesia Raya" has been the national anthem of Indonesia since the proclamation of independence of the Republic of Indonesia on the 17 August 1945. The song was introduced by its composer, Wage Rudolf Supratman, on 28 October 1928 during the Second Indonesian Youth Congress in Batavia. The song marked the birth of the all-archipelago nationalist movement in Indonesia that supported the idea of one single "Indonesia" as successor to the Dutch East Indies, rather than split into several colonies. The first newspaper to openly publish the musical notation and lyrics of "Indonesia Raya" — an act of defiance towards the Dutch authorities — was the Chinese Indonesian weekly Sin Po.
The first stanza of "Indonesia Raya" was chosen as the national anthem when Indonesia proclaimed its independence at 17 August 1945. Jozef Cleber, a Dutch composer, created an arrangement of the tune for philharmonic orchestra in 1950. This arrangement is widely used.
"Indonesia Raya" is played in flag raising ceremonies in schools across Indonesia every monday. The flag is raised in a solemn and timed motion so that it reaches the top of the flagpole as the anthem ends. The main flag raising ceremony is held annually on 17 August to commemorate Independence day. The ceremony is led by the President of Indonesia and is usually held in Istana Negara (Jakarta).
In 1928, youths from across Indonesia held the first Indonesian Youth Congress, an official meeting to push for the independence of the nation. Upon hearing about the efforts, young reporter Wage Rudolf Supratman contacted the organizers of Congress with the intention of reporting the story, but they requested that he not publish the story from fear of Dutch colonial authorities. The organizers wanted to avoid suspicion so that the Dutch would not ban the event. Supratman promised them this, and the organizers allowed him free access to the event. Supratman, who was also a musician and also a teacher, was inspired by the meetings and intended to write a song for the conference. After receiving encouragement from the conference leader Sugondo Djojopuspito, Supratman played on the violin the song Indonesia with the hope that it would someday become a national anthem. He kept the script to himself because he felt that it was not the appropriate time to announce it.
Supratman first performed Indonesia on the violin on 28 October 1928 during the Second Indonesian Youth Congress.
Following the Second Youth Congress, the text of Indonesia was distributed by many political and student organisations. The press also played a key role in the publication of the song. On 7 November 1928, the Soeloeh Ra'jat Indonesia daily published the text to the song. This was followed by the Sin Po Chinese weekly on 10 November. In 1929, Wage Rudolf Supratman changed the title of his song to "Indonesia Raya" and appended the phrase National Anthem of Indonesia below it, but the text of the song did not change. Supratman personally printed and distributed copies of the song with its new title through pamphlets. All one thousand copies of the manuscript were sold within a short amount of time to his friends and family.
A businessman friend of his, Yo Kim Tjan, also expressed interest in recording "Indonesia Raya". With Supratman's consent, Yo created a copy of the song on a gramophone record overseas to obtain the best sound quality with the intention of bringing the copy back to Indonesia. However, before Yo was able to do so, Dutch colonial authorities had imposed a ban on the song. Yo was unable to bring the original back but was able to bring home a copy. According to Yo, Supratman had also given him the rights to sell record copies of "Indonesia Raya" through his store Toko Populair.
Initially, there had been no orchestral rendition of the anthem. Thus in 1950, President Soekarno made an appeal to Jozef Cleber to compose a symphonic rendition of "Indonesia Raya".
Cleber at the time had been among the 46 persons of the Cosmopolitan Orchestra, under direction of Yvon Baarspul, sent by the Netherlands Government to help the Indonesian Government for its own music development in Jakarta. "Jos" Cleber was an experienced arranger for not only popular songs back in his hometown, but also for Indonesian pop song arrangements such as Di Bawah Sinar Bulan Purnama and Rangkaian Melati. The final rendition of the anthem is still in common use today.
The arrangements starts with a Tutti of strings and trumpets (in Verse A) that represents a brave and an elegant sound, and in the middle of the song (in Verse B) is played smoothly by strings, and finally (in Verse C) comes another Tutti of strings and trumpets, together with the timpani and cymbals, giving it a brave sound fitting for a national anthem that was respected by the people.
The original recording was recorded by the Cosmopolitan Orchestra under Cleber's direction on Phillips tape in 1951 by the Radio of Jakarta. The record was digitally restored in 1997 in Australia based on Cleber's sheet music that was kept in Jakarta, and it was played again by the Victorian Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Addie MS.
In 1951, ownership of the copyright to "Indonesia Raya" came into question. President Sukarno ordered a search for the rightful heir to Supratman. By law, Supratman was the copyright holder of "Indonesia Raya" as its composer. After Supratman's death in 1938, ownership of the rights to his works fell upon the designated heirs, his four surviving sisters. However, because "Indonesia Raya" was officially adopted as the national anthem of Indonesia on 17 August 1945, the work became the property of the state. In addition, the name of "Wage Rudolf Supratman" must be listed as its creator.
As a national anthem, copies of "Indonesia Raya" cannot be circulated as merchandise to be sold. Consequently, the government had the obligation to obtain all the rights to distribute the song, including the original recording, from Yo Kim Tjan. In 1958, the government obtained the sole right to "Indonesia Raya" from Supratman's family. The following year, Yo handed the original record of the song to the Indonesian government. With the recommendation of the Department of Education, the government also rewarded Supratman's sisters with 250,000 Indonesian rupiah each on 31 May 1960.
"Indonesia Raya", as stated in the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia (Undang-Undang Dasar Republik Indonesia tahun 1945 <UUD 1945>) is the national anthem of Republic of Indonesia. This is stipulated in the Chapter XV, Article 36B of the constitution.
Furthermore, based on Peraturan Pemerintah Nomor 44 Tahun 1958 (PP No.44/1958 - Government Regulation Number 44 Year 1958), the first stanza of "Indonesia Raya" is used as the official lyrics of the national anthem of Indonesia.
There is no official translation of "Indonesia Raya" into other languages. On 28 October 1953, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the anthem, the Harian Umum daily published their own English, German, and Dutch translations of the song. A bulletin released by the Ministry of Information used these translations. Currently, however, the translations are no longer published. The following table includes the original lyrics of the song in Indonesian, an approximate literal translation into English and a more poetic, singable one.