Image Courtesy: Google Doodle
Zubir Said (22 July 1907 – 16 November 1987) was a Singaporean composer most notable for composing the national anthem of his country, “Majulah Singapura” – “Onward Singapore”.
Life and Career
Zubir Said was born on July 22, 1907, in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, which was then part of the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). He showed a passion for music from a young age and became involved in various musical activities during his school years. Zubir’s musical talents were recognized, and he was sent to the Netherlands to study music at the Royal School for Teachers of Music in Utrecht.
In 1928 at the age of 21, Zubir went to Singapore to make a living as a musician, taking up the suggestion of a sailor friend who had described the island as a place of “glittering lights, seller [coffee with milk] and butter”. This was done in the face of objections from his village chieftain father, Mohamad Said bin Sanang, who believed music to be against religion. Zubir’s first job was as a musician with City Opera, a bangsawan or Malay opera troupe.
He collaborated with various artists and musicians, gaining popularity for his musical creations.
Creation of “Majulah Singapura”: In the early 1950s, Zubir was invited to Singapore to compose a national anthem for the newly independent nation. He created “Majulah Singapura” (which means “Onward Singapore”) in 1958, and it was officially adopted as Singapore’s national anthem when the country gained independence in 1965.
Zubir Said passed away on November 16, 1987, in Singapore, leaving behind a lasting musical legacy. His composition, “Majulah Singapura,” continues to be an integral part of Singapore’s national identity and is played on various occasions, symbolizing the nation’s progress and unity.
In addition to the national anthem, Zubir contributed significantly to the development of Indonesian and Malay music. He composed numerous songs and musical pieces that are still cherished and performed by artists across the region.
Award and Legacy
Throughout his career, Zubir Said received recognition for his musical contributions. While specific awards might not be widely documented, his status as the composer of Singapore’s national anthem is a testament to his artistic impact and the honor he received for creating such an important musical piece.
Zubir’s influence on music in Southeast Asia and his role in shaping the national identity of Singapore through “Majulah Singapura” ensure that his legacy remains a significant part of the region’s cultural heritage.
On 21 July 2014, Google celebrated Zubir Said’s 107th Birthday with a doodle.