Sunday, September 18, 2011

Italy: Verdi

Italy issued this stamp in 1951 as part of a set of three stamps honoring the death of Guiseppe Verdi 50 years after his death in 1901. This is the middle-value stamp and features a church and an organ facade. I had for years not known that Verdi was an organist, but he's quite well-known for his organ skills. Verdi was born in Le Roncole, a village in Parma, Italy. Verdi spent the majority of his life in this region. He began playing the organ as a substitute at age 9 at the church of St. Michael the Archangel, and shortly thereafter took the same position permanently. The facade shown in the stamp could be that of the St. Michael church organ, but one can't be certain.

Hungary: Schweitzer commemoration

Hungary issued this stamp in 1975 as part of a set of seven stamps honoroing the 100th anniversary of the birth of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), medical missionary and musician. The current stamp features a likeness of Schweitzer, his signature, an organ facade, and scroll-work with JS Bach's name and musical notation. It's impossible to determine which if any particular instrument these pipes are meant to indicate.

Hungary: Painting, angels playing organ and harp

Hungary issued this stamp in 1973 as part of a set of 7 stamps and 1 souvenir sheet containing a single larger-sized stamp). All of the stamps feature paintings by anonymous Hungarian painters found in the Christian Museum at Esztergom. This painting in this stamp, by an unknown painter, is of angels playing a portativ and a harp. Art critics will have more to say about the painting. One can see that the organ is placed on a table-top. It has a relatively short compass (few notes), as indicated by both the number of keys and the number of pipes. This stamp is HUngary #2254 in the Scott catalogue.

Hungary: Listz Music Academy

Hungary issued this stamp in 1975 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Franz Listz Music Academy (Liszt Ferenc Zeneművészeti Egyetem). The stamp features a treble clef, an organ facade and an orchestra being led by a conductor.

One can view a virtual tour of the Great Hall here. From this tour one can learn that it is indeed the organ in the Great Hall that is featured on this stamp. I have not yet been able to determine who built this organ.

The academy's facility page mentions that reconstruction work has been taking place for the past two years, with scheduled completion in September 2011.

The organization, Friends of the Liszt Academy has this to say about the organs at the school:

The organ in the Bach-hall of the Old Academy of Music needs to be renovated urgently not only for the reason that it has been already used for fifteen years but because this is the only available organ for the Academy during the reconstruction period of the main building. The fundraising activity has already commenced for this special project.

The main organ of the Music Academy Main Building at Liszt tér has to be removed during the 2-year reconstruction time, and a new organ must be built. The financing of this huge project needs to get additional support.

The Organ Departments’ young and devoted professors envisaged an internationally active and attractive centre with other new small organs serving educational purposes. This long-term vision will need significant outside support as well.

So it seems there are two main instruments, but there are plans, it seems to replace the second of these two, which would seem to be that of the great hall.

Hungary: European Music Year

in 1985 Hungrary released a set of six stamps featuring composers and instruments. 1985 was the "European Music Year," as decided by the European Union. Other composers featured on stamps in this set included Handel, Cherubini, Chopin, Mahler and Ferenc. These stamps were issued on July 10. That year, 1985, was also the 300th anniversary of the birth of Bach (and of Handel).

The stamp including JS Bach includes the facade of the organ in St. Thomas Church, Leipzig. This instrument by Sauer was built in the late 1800's and was never played by Bach. However, it's design is quite remarkable and easily distinguishable. This stamp is #2939 in the Scott catalogue.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Guinea-Bissau: Bach

Guinea-Bissau issued this souvenir sheet August 5, 1985 as the last in a set of stamp honoring musicians and instruments. Guinea-Bissau is on the western coast of Africa and is the region once known as Portuguese Guinea, until the nation declared independence in 1974. It includes the Bissagos Islands.

This souvenir sheet and its stamp feature a portrait of JS Bach and images from the Thomas Kirche in Liepzig Germany where Bach was cantor or music director. The Sauer organ was built in 1889, thus Bach himself never played it. It was restored in 2005. There is a second more Bach-like instrument in the Thomas Kirche now, but again Bach never played it; it was built by the Woehl firm in 2000.

Greenland: Jonathan Peterson

Jonathan Petersen (1881-1961) was an organist and composer living in Greenland. Most famously, he wrote the music for the Greenland national anthem; the lyrics had been written by Lutheran pastor Henrik Lund.

Nuuk is the capital of Greenland and there are two primary churches there, the cathedral and the Hans Egede Church. This article gives some basic information about the recent evolution of the Lutheran church in Greenland. Peterson conceivably could have been organist at either or both of them, though there is a bronze bust of him in front of the cathedral leading me to suspect his primary work was there.

The stamp includes a set of facade pipes in addition to Petersen's portrait. The pipes are not identified. They could however be representations taken from the facade from the in organ currently in either the cathedral or the Egede church. Both instruments are relatively new (1970 and 1971), so Peterson never played either of them. Absent any other information, one might conclude based on circumstantial evidence that the pipes on the stamp are part of the facade from the current cathedral organ.

Randall Harlow has assembled a very helpful website describing the pipe organs of Greenland. The page for Nuuk includes details about both the cathedral organ and the Hans Egede Church organ. Neither facade is exactly like the one in the stamp image however.

The stamp was issued September 5, 1991 as part of a set of three portraying famous men of Greenland.

.Marcussen organ in the Nuuk Cathedral (2 manuals, pedal, 11 ranks)

(Copyright 2010 Randall Harlow.)

Nuuk Cathedral exterior

Germany: 16th Century organ

Germany issued a set of four stamps featuring musical instruments for Berlin in 1973. The high-value stamp features a positiv organ. The stamps are semi-postals with revenue for independent welfare organizations. The lower-value stamps pictured a hurdy-gurdy (.20 +. .10); a 16th century drum (.30 + .15); and an archlute (.40 + .20). Deutsche Post also issued a set of four semi-postal stamps for general usage, outside the Berlin-zone (French horn, pedal piano, violin and pedal harp). I would guess that the organ pictured in this stamp is in a museum but I don't know for sure.

Germany: Max Reger

Johann Baptist Joseph Maximilian Reger was a famous composer, conductor, organist and teacher from southern Germany. Germany issued this stamp in May 2, 1991, the 75th anniversary (to the month) of Reger's death. Reger wrote for many instruments but is best known for his organ works. He was a master of the fugal form. His music is also characterized by chromaticism and what is often called absolute music; that being said much of his organ music is based on hymn-tunes. The stamp includes a row of pipes without reference to a specific organ.

Germany: Drehorgel

This stamp Scott 9N589) was issued in 1990 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the invention of the drehorgel in Germany. The drehorgel is essentially a German version of a barrel organ or fairground organ. it uses a hand crank to generate wind which in turn blows the pipes. Many of these instruments were placed on wheels for ease of portability; the one shown in the stamp is hung by a strap around the neck. The stamp was issued May 3 for Berlin; as such it is one of the last stamps issued before the Wall fell and Germany was re-united. Here is a helpful article to understand this instrument.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Luxembourg: Heiderscheid

The last stamp in the 2009 series, and presumably the last stamp in the fabulous series, features the organ in Saint-Pierre aux Liens in Heiderscheid. The modest-sized instrument (19 ranks) of two manuals and pedal was built by George Westenfelder in 1994. This stamp is B469 in the Scott catalogue.

Luxembourg: Nommern

Third in the set of four organ stamps from 2009 is the organ at the Church of the Virgin in Nommern. The church's original organ was a Stahlhuth instrument of 1910, which itself had begun life as an instrument for the Notre-Dame School. Most recently George Westenfelder worked on the instrument in 1999. It has two manuals and pedal. An image and the stoplist are here.

Luxembourg: Dudelange

The .70 Euro stamp in the 2009 tourism series featuring pipe organs is the organ of St. Martin's Church, Dudelange. The "Grand Orgue" was completed in 2001 by the Thomas Jann firm and has four manual divisions and pedal. It incorporates pipework from the church's earlier instrument by Stahlhuth, but reverses some mis-guided work on the 1960's and now encompasses 72 ranks of pipes. The impressive instrument, not surprisingly, is the focus of an international organ music festival each year. One may view the stoplist and image here.

I recently found this page which give some information about the organ (it's a CD sales site), and this page which describes concerts and other activities related to the instrument. I also found this image of the exterior of the church. The church appears by happenstance on a Luxembourg stamp issued in 1955 celebrating the completion of, of all things, a television antenna in the region. I'll load an image of that stamp soon.

Luxembourg: Philharmonie

In 2009 the Luxembourg post issued a fourth set of stamps in a series featuring pipe organs located in this small European nation. This set of four is much like the first three in many respects. Whereas the third set had blank selvage (paper bordering the stamp image) this set returns to using paper with musical notation on the selvage, as was the case with the first two sets.

The low-value in this set features the organ in the Philharmonie Hall, a Karl Schucke instrument completed in 2005. It is a massive instrument of four manuals and pedal, including a 32' stop in the Hauptwerk division. In addition to the stoplist, the hall has provided a few publicity shots of the instrument here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Luxembourg Tourism Stamps (overview)

The tiny nation of Luxembourg embarked in 2006 on a series of tourism stamps featuring pipe organ found in that nation. The series included four sets of 4 stamps each, issued each year until 2009.

The pipe organ is indeed alive and well in this European nation, as revealed on the stamps featuring organ old and new. Many of the instruments have been worked upon by the Luxembourg firm of George Westenfelder. In addition to the stamps, the Luxembourg post has created two book-CD compilations. The sets include mint copies of the stamps, written details on the instruments, and recordings of music from each organ. The first of the two volumes includes the 2006, 2007 and 2008 series of stamps; the second is devoted to the last set issued in 2009. It's incredible that the postal service has taken such initiative to produce the fine written and recorded materials related to the stamps.

This set of stamps has been described and written about by a colleague of mine living in the UK, Mark Jameson. His writing on this series of stamps (from Luxembourg) appears in the 2010-3 issue of the Journal of The Organ Club. This club meets regularly throughout Great Britain (and occasionally abroad) to visit, learn about and hear pipe organs. Jameson's writings on pipe organ stamps spanned three issues of the Journal: the first two articles dealt with organ stamps issued by the British postal service, Liechtenstein, USSR/Russia, North America (US and Canada) and Nicaragua. The third article features the stamps of this one nation, Luxembourg. Jameson is to be commended for his painstaking research on his fine series of articles.

Luxembourg: Cathedral

The high-value stamp from 2008 features the cathedral in Luxembourg. The "classical" organ in the Cathedral is located in the rear gallery. George Westenfelder completed the most recent work on this organ in 1995. It has four manuals and pedal, the fourth manual being a battery of Spanish reed stops. This stamp is B464 in Scott's catalogue. Here are pictures and a stop list.

Luxembourg: Vianden

The third stamp in the 2008 series of tourism stamps features the Vianden organ. Once again a very old casework includes pipes from several eras. The most recent work was completed in 1993 by George Westenfelder. This stamp is B463 in the Scott catalogue. Photoes and a stoplist may be seen here.

Luxembourg: Mondorf-les-Bains

Second in the 2008 series is a stamp featuring the 1983 Oberlinger organ in Mondorf-les-Bains. The original organ endured many alterations over is 100+ year history, until it was decided to place a new organ in the old case. Several historic sets of pipes were retained. This site has several photos of the instrument, including some lovely close-ups of details of the casework, and a complete stop list.

Luxembourg: Junglinster

The Luxembourg postal service issed a third set of tourism sets featuring pipe organs in 2008. The low-value in the series features the organ at Junglinster. The casework dates from 1783; in 1887 Charles Wetzel moved the organ from its original location to Junglinster; further work was done in 1939. This stamp is B461 in the Scott catalogue. This site has a couple of photos of the organ and the stop-list.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Great Britain: Westminster, London

Westminster Cathedral, featured on the 72p stamp is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. The edifice opened in 1903. The Grand Organ in the cathedral was begun by Willis in 1910. Only a portion of the envisioned instrument was completed at that time. It was only in 1920 that work recommenced, to reach a certain point in 1922. At the insistence of Marcel Dupre' who consulted on the instrument, the organ was placed in the west end of the cathedral. From 1922 Dupre' and other organ recitalists played to raise funds to complete the instrument. It was only in 1932 that the organ was finally "complete." the instrument was thoroughly cleaned in 1985 and work in 1996 (both jobs by Harrison and Harrison) made the Grand Organ playable from a second console (and independent instrument) in the east end apse. The stamp shows the east end of the cathedral. There is indeed an instrument in the apse, though one cannot see it depicted. The stamp image was likely shot from the west gallery which holds the Grand Organ itself.

Great Britain: St. Magnus, Scotland

Construction of the St. Magnus Cathedral began in 1137 in Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands off the northern coast of Scotland. St. Magnus is Britain's most northerly cathedral. The nave, pulpit and east window are featured on the 81p stamp from Great Britain. The Willis organ was installed in 1926 as part of the cathedral's rebuilding. The church's site and the Willis site state that the organ is behind a "decorative screen." This may explain why one really cannot see any of the organ in the present stamp. Henry Willis' website has a nice page devoted to the organ, including photos of the installation, of some of the recent restoration work, and the stop list.

Great Britain: St David's Cathedral, Wales

The cathedral site names 1181 as the year the present cathedral was begun. The building suffered considerable damage in 1648 and significant work in rebuilding was accomplished in 1862-1877 under the direction of Sir George Gilbert Scott. Find the cathedral website here. Information about the organ may be found here, sadly without a specification. Harrison & Harrison of Durham did the most recent work on the organ 1998-2000. The organ has a place on the National Pipe Organ Register, which thankfully does include the current specification.

Gabon: Schweitzer

Gabon first issued this stamp in 1960. Scott catalogues it as the first airmail stamp Gabon issued (C1). Schweitzer is shown with a village vignette, some trees, a book of music by Bach and some organ pipes. Gabon later (in 1963) re-issued this stamp (Scott C11), with a chang ein denomination and an overprint commemorating the 50th anniversary of Schweitzer's arrival in Gabon. The medical-missionary-organist appears on several other Gabonaise stamps, including C159, C269 and C289. This appears to be the only one however that includes organ pipes.

France: Franck

France issued this stamp in 1992 (making it a 170th birth year anniversry), as part of a set honoring several composers (Satie, Schmitt, Honegger, Auric, Tailleferre). I can't decide if the background, to the right of Fanck's image, is actually abstract pipework or not. I think probably not. But because Franck is such an important figure among composers for the organ, this stamp definitely warrants inclusion here.

Austria: Brahms

Austria issued this stamp in 1997, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Johannes Brahms. This is no organ, pipework nor console included on the stamp, not the selvage. But Brahms is a rather important composer of works for organ. Thus I felt this stamp merited inclusion in this blog. I am actually practicing the Chorale-Prelude and Fugue on O Traurigkeit by Brahms for an upcoming concert.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Belgium: Composers

This booklet strip of 5 stamps was issued by Belgium. It features several early composers, on the stamps themselves, and in the selvage. The composers include Josquin de Prez, Guillaume Dufay and Gilles Binchoise (who is holding what looks like a lyre of some type), Johannes Ockeghem (with men gathered around a music desk), Jacob Obreacht, Adriaan Willaert and Orlandus Lassus. And then, most interestingly, in the left-hand selvage is a little positiv organ. It appears that it is actually the left-hand side of the image that includes Dufay and Binchois, but the stamp perforations create a gap. It's difficult to tell how large this instrument is and whether it might actually be movable, and thus a portativ.

Ajman: Schweitzer

Ajman is a Persian Gulf sheikdom that is part of the United Arab Emirates. It issued a few stamps independently in the 1960's, but modern stamps are in the name of the UAE. However, many spurious stamps have been created in the name of Ajman. They are all relatively cheap and are not even catalogued by Scott. This stamp seems to be a photograph of Schweitzer playing at an un-named console. If one knew details about the image, one might be able to determine which instrument it is. As it is, the caption "giving a concert" is not enough to know much more about the stamp.

Great Britain: Lichfield Cathedral

The 1st-rate stamp in the series features the rood screen and choir at Lichfield Cathedral, northwest of London. Established some 1300 years ago, the cathedral began as a shrine to house the bones of Chad, and later was the site of a Norman church and then a Gothic Cathedral, with substantial alterations in the 18th and 19th centuries. The choir program of the cathedral maintains its own website, with information about the organ. The present organ dates from 1884, with the most recent work being done in 2000 by Harrison and Harrison. A nicely detailed specification may be found here. The casework for the choir-facing section of the organ is barely discernible in the stamp image.

Update 4/2011: The current issue of the Jounral of The Organ Club (of Great Britain) has an article that includes information on the Lichfield Cathedral organ. The Club visited the cathedral and other local sites on the 21st of August 2010. The article includes notes on the cathedral itself and information about the organ, including reflections on Club members' playing of the instrument, and a current stop list.