Saturday, February 16, 2013

Iceland: Pall Isolfsson

Iceland issued this stamp honoring Pall Isolfsson on 14 August 1991, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the death of the musician. This stamp (Scott 744) was part of a set of two, the other honoring Ragnar Jonsson, an arts patron. The Jonsson stamp is configured horizontally compared to the Isolfsson's stamp vertical orientation.

Pall Isolfsson studied organ in Germany and Paris, after which he returned to Iceland. In 1938 he became organist of Reykjavik Cathedral and appointed director of both the Reykjavik Conservatory and the Icelandic Radio. His published works include piano pieces, chorus music and cantatas.

This stamp includes no representation of an organ. It took considerable searching to learn of Isolfsson's connection to the instrument.  The current instrument in the Reykjavik Cathedral is a massive instrument by the German firm, Klais, installed in 1992. I have not found any information about the instrument Isolfsson might have actually played.

Germany: Mendelssohn

Germany issued this stamp (Scott 1980) in 1997 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the composer's death. The image depicts Mendelssohn in profile on the right, with a score facsimile on the left. Without studying the music too closely, the music doesn't seem to be from one of the composer's organ works, though I would welcome correction by anyone willing to compare. Otherwise, the stamp does not include any elements that relate to the organ. The selvage includes the composer's signature and a five line/four space pattern that is likely intended to bring to mind music staves. Mendelssohn was famous for bringing about a revival of interest in the compositions of JS Bach. Too he composed a compelling oeuvre of organ music.

Germany: JS Bach

Germany issued this stamp (Scott 2092) in 2000, to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. The image seems to be based on a fairly typical classical era painting, digitized and the colors altered. There doesn't seem to be any representation of an organ in any form on the stamp unless the five blocks that constitute Bach's image bear an abstract semblance to an organ case. As is clear, the selvage includes music notation.

France: Cintegabelle

France has recently been issuing small panes of stamps specific to regions of the nation. This stamp is from a pane celebrating the region that includes the city of Toulouse. The Cintegabelle church is a vibrant and historic community of faith located 35 km from Toulouse in the Pyrenees region. Parts of the organ date from 1742. It was most recently refurbished by J.-L. Boisseau  and B. Cattiaux in 1989. One can read a nicely detailed description of the instrument and it's history here. The church and its musician obviously know the musical gem they enjoy: the detailed history, plus information about tours and concerts indicate an appropriate pride in the instrument. The panes in this series being issued by the French post office are marketed to collectors on the web site. The amount of text in the panes seems to indicate to me their target audience is tourists to the region. No matter what, they are commendable for the imaginative topics depicted and the information contained therein. This pane was issued in 2012, so I do not yet have a Scott # for it.


German Democratic Republic: Portativ

This semi-postal stamp was issued by DDR in 1950, two hundred years after the death of Bach. It was issued as part of a set of four stamps that together commemorate the "Bach year." The low-value stamp (B17) depicts a shepherd with double flute; second is the present stamp (B18); the third stamp (B19) depicts JS Bach; the final stamp (B20)shows a singing chorus. The girl in this stamp seems to be holding a portable organ with a scant 10-11 notes; it appears that 5 pipes are visible. The purpose of the surtax (6 pfennigs) is not designated in my edition of the Scott catalogue.

German Democratic Republic: JS Bach

This stamp (Scott 2461) was issued in 1985 for the "Spring Festival" (Fruehjahrsmesse) in Leipzig. JS Bach worked for several years at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. The statue upon which this stamp is based is located at the church. The monument to Bach was erected in 1908, only after a statue of Leibniz was removed to a nearby university site. The statue shows the composer standing alongside an organ, holding a scroll of music. The reverse of the statue shows the St. Thomas School in relief.  The stone base of the statue is a little over 9 feet tall; the bronze statue of Bach about 6 feet tall. The Bach memorial is also depicted on a stamp issued in 2004 as part of a "scenic attractions" series.

Croatia: Ferdo Livadic

Croatia issued this stamp in 1999 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ferdo Liviadic. Livadic is known as the father of Croatian national music. He is best known for piano music and songs. His relationship to the organ is unclear, yet organ pipes feature in the back ground of this stamp. He studied law and music in Graz, Austria. He was preparing to pursue advanced study there, but was summoned home to run his family's estate.  He hosted numerous influential people at his home, especially related to the Illuryan (nationalism) movement. But he was also visited by Franz Liszt. His home in Samobor is now a museum. This stamp was issued June 18 as part of a set of seven stamps featuring famous Croats.

Burkina Faso: Schweitzer

Upper Volta (now known as Burkina Faso) issued this Schweitzer memorial stamp in 1965, commemorating the 90th anniversary of the scholar-musician's birth. Schweitzer is featured in profile on the left side of the stamp, with a row of four organ pipes on the opposite side of the stamp. Scott C40 was issued May 12 as to pay airmail postage.

French Colonists arrived in 1896 and claimed the area known as Upper Volta, after a long, rich period of self-rule. Upper Volta claimed independence in 1960. The nation took the name Burkina Faso, meaning "land of honorable people," in 1984.

Schweitzer's association with the organ is well-know and -documented. The pipes on this stamp are likely not intended to reference a specific instrument.

Austria: "Silent night, holy night"

 Austria issued Scott 558 in 1948 to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the composition of the Christmas carol "Silent Night, Holy Night." The stamp features the tune's composer and the lyricist, Franz Gruber and Josef Mohr. The background design may be intended to represent organ pipes. Instead straight, erect pipes, they are curved or undulating, but the design does seem to include pipe mouths.

Mohr had composed the lyrics of the carol in 1816 when he was in Mariepfarr. In 1818, now living in Oberndorf, he asked Gruber to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment. There is plenty of folklore about why guitar accompaniment instead of organ; we'll likely never know the facts surrounding this choice. The song was first performed at a midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1818. The St. Nicholas Church, site of the first performance, no longer exists as it did originally. A memorial church stands in its place.