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.