Saturday, January 10, 2015

Benjamin Franklin's Birthday Party - Jan 18th - Historical Museum

Printer, author, scientist, musician, inventor, diplomat and revolutionary.

On Sunday, January 18th the museum will be celebrating the birthday of our town's namesake, Benjamin Franklin, born January 17, 1706.

The town of Franklin was originally to be named Exeter. As our forefathers made their way to Dedham to establish the charter of incorporation, word of Ben's success in establishing the French alliance with Louis XVI had made it's way to the Colonies. 

And, as noted in the History of Franklin by Mortimer Blake, a last minute decision was made, '... and it was with graceful tribute to the successful diplomatist, Franklin, that the town, just at that date applying for incorporation, should bear his name.'

As a special treat, Vera Meyer will return to the museum to perform on the glass harmonica, a unique instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin.

Vera Meyer and Town Clerk Debbie Pellegri in 2011
Vera Meyer and Town Clerk Debbie Pellegri in 2011

About the instrument:

The glass harmonica was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1761. The instrument enjoyed wide popularity in Europe (where Franklin was living at the time) for about 40 years until it was banned by German police around 1830. 
It was feared by people and thought to cause insanity, nervous disorders, convulsions in dogs and cats, marital disputes, and even wake people from the dead. 
It is possible that the lead in the glasses used at the time caused a neurological problem for people. However, maybe it was the haunting tones of the instrument, or maybe it was because Anton Mesmer used the instrument to hypnotize his patients. 
We have discovered about 300 compositions originally written for glass harmonica, including works by Mozart and Beethoven.

Prior posts:

Ben's birthday in 2013

in 2012

in 2011

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