From The Temple of Dendera: Twelve Etudes for Piano Inspired by the Egyptian Zodiac
From The Temple of Dendera: Twelve Etudes for Piano is a set of character pieces each of which is a musical portrait of an Egyptian God represented in the Dendera Zodiac. The sculptured Dendera Zodiac is a widely known Egyptian bas-relief from the ceiling of the pronaos (or portico) of a chapel dedicated to Osiris in the Hathor temple at Dendera Egypt. This chapel was begun in the late Ptolemaic period; its pronaos was added by the emperor Tiberius. The date for the relief is 50 BC, since it shows the stars and planets in the positions they would have been seen at that date.
The relief, which scholar John H. Rogers characterized as "the only complete map that we have of an ancient sky", has been conjectured to represent the basis on which later astronomy systems were based. It is now on display at the Musée du Louvre, Paris.
The second inspiration for this piece is J.S. Bach’s monumental masterpiece Goldberg Variations. Motives and melodic fragments from Bach can be found throughout the work.
A number of the gods are related and are joined in groups: Thoth and Sphinx are the pillars of the work, Isis, Osiris and Hathor are a divine family, Sekhmet and Hathor are two sides of the same personality one ferocious and the other peaceful and there are two underworld Osiris and Anubis connected to mummification and the afterlife. Amon-Re was a god who came from obscurity and became the main god of the New Kingdom and Wadjet was a god of kingship and the protector of kings. Shu is an ancient god necessary for the wellbeing of earth and heaven and Phoenix is a benu bird connected with the soul of a person.