I remember, Caesarion, that when I was a little girl, my father, Ptolemy XIII, whom they called the flute player, was strict. He always said that, according to Egyptian tradition, the Pharaoh and his family should follow the rule that it was not proper for the members of the royal family to play the harp. This rule was in place because the harp was an instrument played by peasants to salute and welcome the first family of Egypt.

My mother did not believe in this silly rule but she could not tell him. She did not want my life to be like hers so she composed a song to tell me this indirectly. She had composed it while playing the harp that she hid from my father. She told me this in confidence and I promised that, one day, I would take up the harp and play it like her.

After my mother died, I forgot her wish because she was no longer around to sing to me. As my father kept an eye on me, he would have been harsh with me if I had not followed tradition.

A long time afterwards, I married my brother Ptolemy XIV, whose nickname was Dionysus. So, once again, I did not really have any power. I resented Ptolemy and his laws a great deal so I revolted.
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I remember, Caesarion, that when I was a little girl, my father, Ptolemy XIII, whom they called the flute player, was strict. He always said that, according to Egyptian tradition, the Pharaoh and his family should follow the rule that it was not proper for the members of the royal family to play the harp. This rule was in place because the harp was an instrument played by peasants to salute and welcome the first family of Egypt.

My mother did not believe in this silly rule but she could not tell him. She did not want my life to be like hers so she composed a song to tell me this indirectly. She had composed it while playing the harp that she hid from my father. She told me this in confidence and I promised that, one day, I would take up the harp and play it like her.

After my mother died, I forgot her wish because she was no longer around to sing to me. As my father kept an eye on me, he would have been harsh with me if I had not followed tradition.

A long time afterwards, I married my brother Ptolemy XIV, whose nickname was Dionysus. So, once again, I did not really have any power. I resented Ptolemy and his laws a great deal so I revolted.

After three years of unhappiness, I left Alexandria for the Egyptian provinces. It was then that I remembered my mother’s words. I assembled an army to fight against the injustice of laws and tradition. It was then that I fell in love with a warrior, your father Julius Caesar. Together we expelled Ptolemy from Alexandria and conquered Egypt. Your father left for Rome, for political reasons, and I followed him, shortly after. I carried with me my mother’s wish, her moving song and magnificent harp that captivates everyone who hears it with its harmonious melody.

And now I sing it to you so that you will remember your grandmother who was my collaborator and inspiration in my crusade for peace in my country. Here is the song:
Always keep your strength and courage Fight for justice When you lose your will Think of good things To divert and amuse you Play the harp It will inspire you Your body will welcome its vibrations They will banish worry You will be able to make good, fair and loyal decisions.


© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Harp

Harp

Sebastien Erard Workshop, London, England
St. Boniface Museum
c. 1803
wood and raised design in gilded and painted plaster, brass pedals, steel and gut strings
H: 171 cm, Wi: 83 cm (console), 40 cm (base)
© St. Boniface Museum


The Erard harp is in the shape of a triangle standing on end. It has 42 strings that run vertically between the neck at the top and the sound box that is on a slant. It is played by plucking the strings with the ends of the fingers. This is a single movement harp: at the bottom, seven pedals activate the mechanism that changes the pitch of each string by a semi-tone. The harp has a range of six octaves, the widest of any instrument in the symphony orchestra. It has had a place in the orchestra since the middle of the IXXth century.

This harp was manufactured in London in the workshops of the famous instrument maker Sebastien Erard, possibly before the end of the IXXth century. (Erard developed the double-movement pedal around 1810.) The harp was donated to the St. Boniface Museum by the musician, composer and conductor of the St. Boniface Orchestra, Marius Benoist, who also had a lively interest in history.

Marius Benoist played a leading role on the musical scene in St. Boniface and he influenced more than one generation of Francophone Manitobans.

Marius Benoist was born in 1896 at Sainte-Anne-des-Chênes in Manitoba and studied the piano, Read More
The Erard harp is in the shape of a triangle standing on end. It has 42 strings that run vertically between the neck at the top and the sound box that is on a slant. It is played by plucking the strings with the ends of the fingers. This is a single movement harp: at the bottom, seven pedals activate the mechanism that changes the pitch of each string by a semi-tone. The harp has a range of six octaves, the widest of any instrument in the symphony orchestra. It has had a place in the orchestra since the middle of the IXXth century.

This harp was manufactured in London in the workshops of the famous instrument maker Sebastien Erard, possibly before the end of the IXXth century. (Erard developed the double-movement pedal around 1810.) The harp was donated to the St. Boniface Museum by the musician, composer and conductor of the St. Boniface Orchestra, Marius Benoist, who also had a lively interest in history.

Marius Benoist played a leading role on the musical scene in St. Boniface and he influenced more than one generation of Francophone Manitobans.

Marius Benoist was born in 1896 at Sainte-Anne-des-Chênes in Manitoba and studied the piano, organ and singing in St. Boniface and Montreal. In addition to being choirmaster of St. Boniface Cathedral for 40 years, he was the founder and director of a number of musical ensembles: the Sinfonietta symphony orchestra, the choir of the Gounod Lyric Society as well as the Calixa-Lavallée Society, a youth orchestra made up of his music students. The harp appears in the Sinfonietta program.

Among his many musical compositions, the "Légende du vent" earned Benoist the 1977 Etrog Award (today the Genie Award) of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. He took up the baton for the last time in 1978 as the Sinfonietta celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Harp: Audio

Harp: Audio

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Canadian Heritage Information Network, Centre des recherches et études andalouses, Centre des musiques arabes et méditerranéennes Ennejma Ezzahra, Musée de la musique, Laboratoire de recherche des musiques du monde, Musée acadien de l'Université de Moncton, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Musée d'art et d'archéologie de l'Université d'Antananarivo, Musée ethnographique Alexandre Sènou Adande, Musée national du Mali, St. Boniface Museum, Lycée de langues étrangères Alexandre Dumas, Museum of the Romanian Peasant

© 1999, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Understand that music is an expression in all cultures
  • Understand that the relationship between personal feelings and music transcends borders and cultures
  • Develop respect for music from a variety of cultural contexts
  • Examine traditional music practices in selected Francophone countries
  • Demonstrate geographical awareness by identifying Francophone countries
  • Be aware of the musical contributions of various cultural groups in their own community
  • Understand that all world music can be organized within a standard classification system

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