Ancient Lyre, Synthesizer, Paintings

by Michael Levy / Wolfgang Schweizer

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released March 25, 2011



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Michael Levy / Wolfgang Schweizer Windham, Connecticut

Michael Levy and Wolfgang Schweizer create songs made from live recordings of compositions for Lyre played by Michael Levy. The recordings are modified using synthesizer methods by Wolfgang Schweizer, who makes digital paintings, often inspired by music and literature. ... more

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Track Name: Hurrian Hymn no.6
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Hurrians spoke an ergative-agglutinative language, conventionally called Hurrian, unrelated to neighboring Semitic or Indo-European languages. The Iron Age Urartian language is closely related to or a direct descendant of Hurrian. Some linguists believe Hurrian is distantly related to the Nakh language of the Caucasas[2].

The Hurrians adopted the Akkadian cuneiform script for their own language about 2000 BC. Texts in the Hurrian language have been found at Hattusa, Ugarit (Ras Shamra), as well as one of the longest of the Amarna letters, written by King Tushratta of Mitanni to Pharaoh Amenhotep III. It was the only long Hurrian text known until a multi-tablet collection of literature in Hurrian with a Hittite translation was discovered at Hattusas in 1983.
[edit] History
[edit] Middle Bronze Age

Hurrian names occur sporadically in northern Mesopotamia and the area of Kirkuk in modern Iraq by the Middle Bronze Age. Their presence was attested at Nuzi, Urkesh and other sites. They eventually infiltrated and occupied a broad arc of fertile farmland stretching from the Khabur River valley to the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. I. J. Gelb and E. A. Speiser believed Subarians had been the linguistic and ethnic substratum of northern Mesopotamia since earliest times, while Hurrians were merely late arrivals[3].
[edit] Urkesh

The Khabur River valley became the heart of the Hurrian lands for a millennium. The first known Hurrian kingdom emerged around the city of Urkesh (modern Tell Mozan) during the third millennium BC. There is evidence that they were allied with the Akkadian Empire indicating they had a firm hold on the area by the reign of Naram-Sin of Akkad. This region hosted other rich cultures (see Tell Halaf and Tell Brak). The city state of Urkesh had some powerful neighbors. At some point in the early second millennium BC, the Amorite kingdom of Mari to the south subdued Urkesh into a vassal state. In the continuous power struggles over Mesopotamia, another Amorite dynasty made themselves masters over Mari in the eighteenth century BC. The capital of this Old Assyrian kingdom called Shubat-Enlil was founded some distance from Urkesh at another Hurrian settlement in the Khabur River valley, modern Tell Leilan.
[edit] Late Bronze Age
[edit] Yamhad

The Hurrians also migrated west in this period. By 1725 BC they are found also in parts of northern Syria, such as Alalakh. The Amoritic-Hurrian kingdom of Yamhad is recorded as struggling for this area with the early Hittite king Hattusilis I around 1600 BC. Hurrians also settled in the coastal region of Adaniya in the country of Kizzuwatna. Yamhad eventually weakened to the powerful Hittites, but this also opened Anatolia for Hurrian cultural influences. The Hittites were influenced by the Hurrian culture over the course of several centuries.
[edit] Mitanni
Main article: Mitanni
Further information: Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni

The Hittites continued expanding south after the defeat of Yamhad. The army of the Hittite king Mursili I made its way down to Babylon and sacked the city. The destruction of the Babylonian kingdom, as well as the kingdom of Yamhad, helped the rise of another Hurrian dynasty. The first ruler was a legendary king called Kirta who founded the kingdom of Mitanni around 1500 BC. Mitanni gradually grew from the region around Khabur valley and became the most powerful kingdom of the Near East in c. 1450-1350 BC.

Some theonyms, proper names and other terminology of the Mitanni exhibit an Indo-Aryan superstrate, suggesting that an Indo-Aryan elite imposed itself over the Hurrian population in the course of the Indo-Aryan expansion.[4]
[edit] Arrapha

Another Hurrian kingdom also benefited from the demise of Babylonian power in sixteenth century BC. Hurrians had inhabited the region northeast of river Tigris, around the modern Kirkuk. This was the kingdom of Arrapha. Excavations at Yorgan Tepe, ancient Nuzi, proved to be one of the most important sites for our knowledge about the Hurrians. Hurrian kings such as Ithi-Teshup and Ithiya ruled over Arrapha, yet by the mid-fifteenth century BC they had become vassals of the Great King of Mitanni. Arrapha itself was destroyed by the Assyrians in the fourteenth century BC.
[edit] Bronze Age collapse

By the thirteenth century BC all of the Hurrian states had been vanquished by other peoples. The heart of the Hurrian lands, the Khabur river valley, became an Assyrian province. It is not clear what happened to the Hurrian people at the end of the Bronze Age. Some scholars have suggested Hurrians lived on in the country of Subartu north of Assyria during the early Iron Age. The Hurrian population of Syria in the following centuries seems to have given up their language in favor of the Assyrian dialect of Akkadian or, more likely, Aramaic. This was around the same time that an aristocracy speaking Urartian, similar to old Hurrian, seems to have first imposed itself on the population around Lake Van, and formed the Kingdom of Urartu.
[edit] Culture and society

Knowledge of Hurrian culture relies on archaeological excavations at sites such as Nuzi and Alalakh as well as on cuneiform tablets, primarily from Hattusas (Boghazköy), the capital of the Hittites, whose civilization was greatly influenced by the Hurrians. Tablets from Nuzi, Alalakh, and other cities with Hurrian populations (as shown by personal names) reveal Hurrian cultural features even though they were written in Akkadian. Hurrian cylinder seals were carefully carved and often portrayed mythological motifs. They are a key to the understanding of Hurrian culture and history.
[edit] Ceramic ware

The Hurrians were masterful ceramists. Their pottery is commonly found in Mesopotamia and in the lands west of the Euphrates; it was highly valued in distant Egypt, by the time of the New Kingdom. Archaeologists use the terms Khabur ware and Nuzi ware for two types of wheel-made pottery used by the Hurrians. Khabur ware is characterized by reddish painted lines with a geometric triangular pattern and dots, while Nuzi ware has very distinctive forms, and are painted in brown or black.
[edit] Metallurgy

The Hurrians had a reputation in metallurgy. The Sumerians borrowed their copper terminology from the Hurrian vocabulary. Copper was traded south to Mesopotamia from the highlands of Anatolia. The Khabur Valley had a central position in the metal trade, and copper, silver and even tin were accessible from the Hurrian-dominated countries Kizzuwatna and Ishuwa situated in the Anatolian highland. Gold was in short supply, and the Amarna letters inform us that it was acquired from Egypt. Not many examples of Hurrian metal work have survived, except from the later Urartu. Some small fine bronze lion figurines were discovered at Urkesh.
[edit] The horse

The Mitanni were closely associated with horses. The name of the country of Ishuwa, which might have had a substantial Hurrian population, meant “horse-land”.[citation needed] A famous text discovered at Hattusa deals with the training of horses. The man who was responsible for the horse-training was a Hurrian called Kikkuli. The terminology used in connection with horses contains many Indo-Aryan loan-words (Mayrhofer, 1974).
[edit] Music
Main article: Hurrian song

Among the Hurrian texts from Ugarit are the oldest known instances of written music, dating from c. 1400 BC.[5] Amongst these fragments are found the names of four Hurrian composers, Tapšiẖuni, Puẖiya(na), Urẖiya, and Ammiya.[6]
[edit] Religion

The Hurrian culture made a great impact on the religion of the Hittites. From the Hurrian cult centre at Kummanni in Kizzuwatna Hurrian religion spread to the Hittite people. Syncretism merged the Old Hittite and Hurrian religions. Hurrian religion spread to Syria, where Baal became the counterpart of Teshub. The later kingdom of Urartu also venerated gods of Hurrian origin. The Hurrian religion, in different forms, influenced the entire ancient Near East, except ancient Egypt and southern Mesopotamia.

The main gods in the Hurrian pantheon were:

Teshub, Teshup; the mighty weathergod.
Hebat, Hepa; his wife, the mother goddess, regarded as the Sun goddess among the Hittites.
Sharruma, or Sarruma, Šarruma; their son.
Kumarbi; the ancient father of Teshub; his home as described in mythology is the city of Urkesh.
Shaushka, or Shawushka, Šauska; was the Hurrian counterpart of Assyrian Ishtar, and a goddess of healing.
Shimegi, Šimegi; the sun god.
Kushuh, Kušuh; the moon god. Symbols of the sun and the crescent moon appear joined together in the Hurrian iconography.
Nergal; a Babylonian deity of the netherworld, whose Hurrian name is unknown.
Ea; was also Babylonian in origin, and may have influenced Canaanite El, and also Yam, God of the Sea and River.

Names of Indo-Aryan gods Mitra and Varuna especially, from the Vedic religion have survived in texts and personal names, but it is not known if any religious centers actually existed.

Hurrian cylinder seals often depict mythological creatures such as winged humans or animals, dragons and other monsters. The interpretation of these depictions of gods and demons is uncertain. They may have been both protective and evil spirits. Some is reminiscent of the Assyrian shedu.

The Hurrian gods do not appear to have had particular "home temples", like in the Mesopotamian religion or Ancient Egyptian religion. Some important cult centres were Kummanni in Kizzuwatna, and Hittite Yazilikaya. Harran was at least later a religious centre for the moon god, and Shauskha had an important temple in Nineve, when the city was under Hurrian rule. A temple of Nergal was built in Urkesh in the late third millennium BC. The town of Kahat was a religious centre in the kingdom of Mitanni.

The Hurrian myth “The Songs of Ullikummi”, preserved among the Hittites, is a parallel to Hesiod's Theogony; the castration of Uranus by Cronus may be derived from the castration of Anu by Kumarbi, while Zeus's overthrow of Cronus and Cronus's regurgitation of the swallowed gods is like the Hurrian myth of Teshub and Kumarbi.[7] It has been argued that the worship of Attis drew on Hurrian myth.[8] The Phrygian goddess Cybele would then be the counterpart of the Hurrian goddess Hebat.
[edit] Urbanism

The Hurrian urban culture was not represented by a large number of cities. Urkesh was the only Hurrian city in the third millennium BC. In the second millennium BC we know a number of Hurrian cities, such as Arrapha, Harran, Kahat, Nuzi, Taidu and Washukanni – the capital of Mitanni. Although the site of Washukanni, alleged to be at Tell Fakhariya, is not known for certain, no tell (city mound) in the Khabur Valley much exceeds the size of 1 square kilometer (250 acres), and the majority of sites are much smaller. The Hurrian urban culture appears to have been quite different from the centralized state administrations of Assyria and ancient Egypt. An explanation could be that the feudal organization of the Hurrian kingdoms did not allow large palace or temple estates to develop.
[edit] Archaeology

Hurrian settlements are distributed over three modern countries, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The heart of the Hurrian world is dissected by the modern border between Syria and Turkey. Several sites are situated within the border zone, making access for excavations problematic. A threat to the ancient sites are the dam many projects in the Euphrates, Tigris and Khabur valleys. Several rescue operations have already been undertaken when the construction of dams put entire river valleys under water.

The first major excavations of Hurrian sites in Iraq and Syria began in the 1920s and 1930s. They were led by the American archaeologist Edward Chiera at Yorghan Tepe (Nuzi), and the British archaeologist Max Mallowan at Chagar Bazar and Tell Brak. Recent excavations and surveys in progress are conducted by American, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, French, German and Italian teams of archaeologists, with international participants, in cooperation with the Syrian Department of Antiquities. The tells, or city mounds, often reveal a long occupation beginning in the Neolithic and ending in the Roman period or later. The characteristic Hurrian pottery, the Khabur ware, is helpful in determining the different strata of occupation within the mounds. The Hurrian settlements are usually identified from the Middle Bronze Age to the end of the Late Bronze Age, with Tell Mozan (Urkesh) being the main exception.
Track Name: Joseph in Egypt
The story of Joseph
Judaism, Christianity and Islam all teach that Joseph is one of the 12 sons of Jacob. He is Jacob’s favorite son, which creates jealousy and resentment amongst Joseph’s brothers. Jacob’s attitude toward Joseph is symbolized by his present to Joseph of a beautiful multicolored coat. One day, Joseph’s brothers conspire to throw Joseph in a pit and then sell him to Midianite traders who bring him to Egypt and sell him to the chief steward of the Pharaoh. Joseph’s brothers tell Jacob that a savage beast devoured Joseph. To make their story convincing they soak Joseph’s coat of many colors in sheep’s blood and show it to Jacob.
Once in Egypt, Joseph is well treated and put in charge of the household of Potiphar, the chief steward of the Pharaoh. The Torah, Bible, and Qu’ran all emphasize that the Lord is always with Joseph and everything he does turns out successful. All goes well until Potiphar’s wife, angry of Joseph’s rejection of her attentions, accuses Joseph of trying to seduce her. Joseph is then put in prison. While in prison, Joseph gains a reputation for successfully interpreting dreams. He is eventually released when the Pharaoh is told of Joseph’s skills and wants Joseph to interpret his dreams. Once again, Joseph is successful. He interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams explaining that Egypt will have 7 years of plenty and then 7 years of famine. The Pharaoh is greatly pleased with Joseph and puts him in charge of the pharaoh’s court and all of Egypt. When the famine years hit, Joseph is put in charge of rations.
The famine extended to Canaan so, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to procure rations. Joseph recognizes his brothers, but they do not recognize him. In the Torah and Bible, Joseph tests his brothers’ honesty and integrity and demands that Simeon, one of the brother, remain in Egypt as hostage while the others go back to get Benjamin, Jacob’s other favored son. The brothers go back to Canaan and eventually return to Egypt with Benjamin. Joseph greets them warmly and after a lavish dinner, he sends his brothers off once again. This time he plants his favorite silver goblet in Benjamin’s bag and accuses him of stealing it and demands Benjamin remain in Egypt. The brothers insist on their innocence and beg Joseph to allow one of the brothers to stay instead of Benjamin, as losing Benjamin would be more than their father could bear. Joseph finally breaks down in tears and reveals his identity. He sends his brothers to bring Jacob back to Egypt where he promises they will dwell with his protection.
Differences worth Noting
In the Torah and The Bible, Joseph is portrayed as an arrogant and spoiled youth, inspiring his brothers’ hatred of him. In the Qu’ran Joseph is regarded as being of the highest moral character even as a youth. His brothers’ hatred toward him is seen as a result of Jacob’s favored treatment toward Joseph. In the Qu’ran, Potiphar’s wife tries to justify her behavior toward Joseph. She throws a party inviting all of her friends. She places knives in front of them and serves them fruit. When Joseph enters the room, all the women are so captivated by Joseph’s looks, they lose their focus and cut themselves. The Qu’ran also teaches that Joseph refuses to leave prison until Potiphar’s wife admits her guilt and proves Joseph innocent of his crime. In the Qu’ran, Simeon is not held as hostage. The .brothers are told to go back home and return with Ben-Yamin. (Benjamin) which they do a year later. Joseph confides his identity to Ben-Yamin and convinces him to stay. The brothers tell Joseph that their father has gone blind from crying over the loss of Benjamin. Joseph sends them back to their father with one of his shirts. Jacob then returns to Egypt with his sons, where they remain.
Judaism and Christianity teach that Joseph grows from a spoiled child to a man of humility. Islam teaches that Joseph was a man of the highest moral character, even in his youth. After being sold to the Egyptians, he continues to mature. He shows his loyalty to his values when he resists Potiphar’s wife. Judaism teaches that it is at this point that Joseph can be called a tzakik, a righteous person. Judaism and Christianity teach this marks a turning point in his character and in his life. The Torah and Bible tell us over and over again that the “lord favored Joseph, but it is clear that Joseph had to earn his role as God’s chosen servant and guardian of the people of Israel. Islam teaches that Joseph is not only favored by Allah, but is also one of his Prophets. There are differing interpretations as to why Joseph keeps his identity hidden while testing his brothers. Some believe he was acting vengeful. Another possibility is he that he thought keeping Benjamin was the only way to get Jacob to come to Egypt. Many believe he wanted to find out if his brothers had grown and changed, just as he had grown and matured from his early days of youthful arrogance. Once he’s convinced of their remorse for selling him, their devotion to Benjamin and their love for their father, he breaks down and reveals himself.

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Track Name: Otherworlds
Celtic Otherworld
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Otherworld (orbis alius, so named after Lucan's account of the druidical doctrine of metempsychosis, Pharsalia, 1, 457) is a concept in Celtic mythology, referring to a realm of the dead, the home of the deities or spirits.

Tales and folklore describe it as Fortunate Isles in the western sea, or at other times underground (such as in the Sídhe mounds) or right alongside the world of the living, but invisible to most humans.
Beliefs of the ancient Gauls

Many Graeco-Roman geographers tell about the Celtic belief in islands consecrated to gods and heroes. Among them were Anglesey (Môn), located on the Northern Welsh Coast, which was the sacred island of the druids of Britain; the Scilly islands, where archaeological remains of proto-historical temples have been found; and some of the Hebrides Islands, which were, in the Gaelic tradition, home of ghosts and demons: on one of them, Skye, the Irish hero Cúchulainn was educated by the war goddess Scathach.

Byzantine scholar Procopius of Caesarea described the Otherworld beliefs of the ancient Gauls. He said it was thought that the Land of Dead lay some place west of Great Britain. The Continental Celtic myths told that once the souls of the dead had left their bodies, they traveled to the Northwestern coast of Gaul and took a boat in direction to Britannia. When they had to cross the Channel, the souls went to the homes of the fishermen, and knocked desperately at their doors. The fishermen went then out of their houses and led the dead to their goal in ghostly ships.

There are still remains of those beliefs in the Breton and Galician traditions. In Brittany the name Bag an Noz is used to denote those ships who carry the dead to their goal: Anatole Le Braz describes in his book La légende de la mort chez les Bretons armoricains, the existence of souls' processions which make their way toward coastal places like Laoual, in order to start their last travel from there.

On the northern coast of Galicia is the village of San Andrés de Teixido, where there is a little hermitage consecrated to Saint Andrew, which keeps, according to the legend, his bones. Because his shrine was less popular than Saint James's, the saint was very sad. Jesus comforted him and said: "Do not worry, Andrés, for those who do not visit you in life will surely visit you in death"[1]. And it is still said in Galicia "Anyone who does not visit San Andrés de Teixido when he is alive must visit after he is dead"[2]. It is thought that the people who did not visit the sanctuary in life will have to do it after life, taking the form of serpents and lizards: because of this, the pilgrims who travel to the hermit take care of not to step on those animals. San Andrés de Teixido is located near Cape Ortegal, which according Tacitus[citation needed] was the place where "heavens, seas and earth end": it was the End of the World[3].

Some Spanish authors, like Constantino Cabal, have supposed that the Pagan inhabitants of Northwestern Spain believed that this was the starting place of the souls of the dead on their trip to the Other World. In this manner, traditions of Astorga tell us of a Rock of the Souls (identified with San Andrés de Teixido) situated on the Sea of the Dead, that is, the Ocean which surrounds the Northern Coast of Galicia. These traditions still testify the ancient Celtic beliefs in an "Other World" located beyond the Sea.
[edit] Irish mythology
It has been suggested that Tír na nÓg be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

The Otherworld has been described in Irish poetry and tales as being a land of paradise, happiness, and summer. It is often described as a series of islands where the various deities and ancestors live. Many mythological heroes, such as Cúchulainn and Bran in The Voyage of Bran, journeyed to Otherworld realms.

The Irish believed in an Otherworld, which they described sometimes as underground, such as in the Sídhe mounds, and sometimes located on islands in the Western Sea. The Otherworld was variously called Tír na mBeo ("the Land of the Living"), Mag Mell ("Delightful Plain"), and Tír na nÓg ("Land of the Young"), among other names. It was believed to be a country where there was no sickness, old age, or death, where happiness lasted forever, and a hundred years was as one day. It was probably similar to the Elysium of the Greek mythology and both may have a shared origin in ancient Proto-Indo-European religion. In Irish Immrama ("voyage") tales, a beautiful young woman often approaches the hero and sings to him of this happy land. Sometimes she offers him an apple, or the promise of her love in exchange for his assistance in battle. He follows her, and they journey over the sea together and are seen no more. Their journey may take place in a boat of glass, in a chariot or on horseback (usually upon a white horse, as in the case of the goddess Niamh of the Golden Hair). Sometimes the hero returns after what he believes is a short time, only to find that all his companions are dead and he has actually been away for hundreds of years. Sometimes the hero sets out on a quest, and a magic mist descends upon him. He may find himself before an unusual palace and enter to find a warrior or a beautiful woman who makes him welcome. The woman may be the goddess Fand, the warrior may be Manannán mac Lir or Lugh, and after strange adventures the hero may return successfully. However, even in cases where the mortal manages to return to his own time and place, he is forever changed by his contact with the Otherworld.[4]
[edit] Sídhe: The dwellings of fairies

The Irish tradition tells that the fairies are descendants of the Tuatha Dé Danann, an ancient folk that were driven to the Underworld by a wave of invaders, the Gaels, who came from Galicia led by chieftain Míl Espáine.

The Tuatha had no other choice than to take refuge under the sídhe, a Celtic word which denotes the hills where the long barrows lay. The fairies who live in the mounds are known as the aos sí or the daoine sídhe. All through Ireland legends can be heard about Knocks (from the Irish cnoc), hollow hills which are inhabited by extended fairy communities ruled by a King or a Queen. The best known sídhe sites in Ireland are: Knockma, where the throne of Finvarra (King of the fairies of Connaught) is located, Knockany, ruled by Ainé, Queen of Munster, and Newgrange in county Meath, a megalithic passage tomb which is associated with the deities Boann, Angus Óg and The Dagda.

The sídhe can be found by humans in certain times in the year, especially at Midsummer, when the daoine sídhe might be seen dancing under the moonlight. In Brittany and in Asturias similar myths are kept. In the Asturian mythology there are many stories who describe human encounters with xanas (fairies), which are dancing around one of them, the Xana Mega, the Queen of Fairies, also xacias in Galicia. The castro of Altamira is said to hide an enormous underground realm which is ruled by a royal couple, and whose entrance is found someplace on the hill.
[edit] Welsh mythology
It has been suggested that Annwn be merged into this article or section. (Discuss)

This conception of the Otherworld is also preserved in the Welsh story of Branwen, daughter of Llyr, which ends with the survivors of the great battle feasting in the presence of the severed head of Bran the Blessed, having forgotten all their suffering and sorrow, and having become unaware of the passage of time.[5] In Irish lore, Donn, a god of the dead, reigned over Tech Duinn ('The House of Donn'), which was seen as existing on or under Bull Island, located off the Beare Peninsula in the southwest of Ireland. It was believed that the newly-dead journeyed to Tech Duinn, either to remain there forever, or perhaps as a starting-point on their journey to the Blessed Isles across the Western Sea.[6] A Welsh corollary to Tech Duinn is Annwfn, ruled by the Otherworld kings Arawn and Gwyn ap Nudd.[7]

In the First Branch of the Welsh tales known as The Mabinogion, entitled Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed, the eponymous prince offends Arawn, ruler of Annwn (the Welsh Other World), by baiting his hunting hounds on a stag that Arawn's dogs had brought down. In recompense he exchanges places with Arawn for a year and defeats Arawn's enemy Hafgan. Meanwhile, Arawn rules Dyfed. During this year, Pwyll does not sleep with Arawn's wife, earning himself gratitude from Arawn. On his return, Pwyll becomes known by the title Pen Annwn, "Head (or Ruler) of Annwn."