Born on November 2, 1956, and raised in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Suhirdjan was a quiet, reserved child whose hobby was taking apart and (successfully) putting back together again radios and cassette players. His maternal grandfather, Ki Mandrawa (Raden Lurah Karyapradangga), was a gamelan tuner and musician in the Yogyakarta palace during the reign of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwana VIII, however he passed away before Suhirdjan was born. Although he never met his grandfather, Suhirdjan showed an interest in music in his early childhood, and his father brought home for him a string cello upon which he played the drum parts for keroncong songs. Upon seeing his enthusiasm and musical talent, his parents purchased a simple iron gamelan. This set him on a path as a budding gamelan musician and instrument builder.
After two months of medical tests and consultations regarding a rare form of lymphoma that had spread to his bone marrow, Suhirdjan made his transition in peace on November 19, 2012.