A harmony of Proteas

With its varying shades of pinks and whites, an array of shapes and sizes and a complex network of petals and leaves, the protea family of flowers is a very important part of the Cape Floral Kingdom and they also adorn the mountainside on La Motte.

It is their spectacular beauty and flamboyance that also inspired acclaimed South African composer, conductor and cellist, Hans Huyssen’s symphony orchestral composition entitled, Proteus Variations. Commissioned by Radio Deutsche Welle for the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) in 2006, Huyssen initially composed the piece to consist of eight variations each inspired and named after a genera of the South African Proteaceae.

Hans Huyssen – Proteus Variations (2006)

or Proteus’ floriferous tempers

exemplified in a musical portrayal of selected South African PROTEACEAE

for symphony orchestra









Call and Response

Chase and Cavalcade




Coils and Curls


Cape Chaconne

Proteus Variations was originally performed by the SANYO at the Beethoven Festival in Bonn during 2006. More recently in 2012 it was included in the opening concert of the 6th Cape Town International Summer Music Festival at the Oude Libertas Amphiteater in Stellenbosch, conducted by Yasuo Shinozaki and performed by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO).

In 2010 Hans Huyssen was awarded for this piece with the prestigious Helgaard Steyn Award for the category of musical composition. Currently in its twenty-eighth year the Helgaard Steyn Award 2014 will be awarded in the category of musical composition once again and the announcement is expected to take place within the next two weeks.

La Motte introduced an experience of the famed Proteus Variations in all its forms…

The Helgaard Steyn Awards 1987 – 2013 exhibition on show in the La Motte Museum, features a recording of the CPO’s performance on Proteus Variations that is available for listening and while in season, the beautiful fynbos and proteas are used in all the visitor’s areas on the estate and are available from the Farm Shop, those joining the Sustainable Walk on Tuesday mornings or enjoying the Hiking Trail through the La Motte mountainside, can relish the fynbos garden, consisting of (each within their seasons):





Inca Gold and Safari Sunset

Blushing Bride

High Gold (PBR), Succession and Tango

Pink Ice, Red Rex (PBR), Susara and Sylvia

An audio excerpt from the award winning Proteus Variations is available online while a comprehensive summary on Hans Huyssen and programme notes of Proteus Variations are available on page 51 and 52 of the Helgaard Steyn Awards 1987 – 2013 exhibition catalogue (also available in Afrikaans).

Older Post Newer Post