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.