Monday, March 25, 2013

Germany: Paul Hindemith

Germany issued this stamp (Scott 1910) of Paul Hindemith on 9 November 1995 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. The stamp image include a profile of the composer against a plain solid color background; no organ is referenced.

However, Hindemith composed a very small handful of organ works. The three sonatas for organ are staples of many organists. Hindemith was an active musician during the period when Nazism was in the ascendancy in Germany, and his relationship with it is complicated. Ultimately he left Germany for Switzerland for a period of time. Hindemith was also in Turkey and finally the US; he became a US citizen for a time. In 1953 he returned to Switzerland and ultimately died in Frankfurt, Germany at age 68.

Hindemith was a very detailed composer with meticulous markings in his scores, such that while the music itself may not be considered overwhelming, the performer has no question about how to perform it. He was a compelling music theorist who wrote a text describing his composing method, and a set of piano fugues outlining the same. In addition to the three sonatas there is a concerto for organ with orchestra written in 1962. He wrote music for vocalists and choral ensembles, but none with organ accompaniment.

Germany: Bruckner

Germany issued this stamp (Scott 1947) to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the death of Anton Bruckner on 9 October 1996. The stamp itself shows Bruckner and a musical score, but no reference to the organ. Bruckner was however an organist and wrote a handful of pieces for the instrument. In fact his Opus 1 is a set of four organ preludes. After his father's death, when Bruckner was 13, he was sent to the Augustinian School in St Florian. There he studied violin and organ, and became enamored of the Baroque organ at the school. In 1845 Bruckner returned to St Florian now as a teacher at the school and organist. The instrument he played now bears his name, "The Bruckner Organ." The instrument itself has been featured on an Austrian stamp. In 1868 Bruckner accepted a teaching position at the Vienna Conservatory, previously held by his own teacher, Simon Sechter. Bruckner remained an active organist while in Vienna, concertizing in France in 1869 and in England at the Royal Albert Hall in 1871. Bruckner died in 1896 and was buried in the crypt of the St Florian monastery. Though his oeuvre contains no significant organ works, there are a handful.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

France: St John's, Luneville

The organ in the Church of St John, Luneville was originally built by Nicholas Dupont of Nancy  between 1749 and 1751. Like most historic organs it has seen its share of renovations and rebuilds, some designed to "improve" the instrument, so intended to "restore" the instrument to some preferred state in its history. The Luneville instrument is unique because there are no pipes visible in the facade of the organ. It was conceived as a treat for the eyes, and the decision being made that the pipework would be totally hidden from view. The most recent work on the instrument was in 1998, with re-dedication taking place in 2003. The Friends of the Organ Association maintains a site dedicated to the organ which includes a stoplist and other historical information. The stamp issued by La Poste is a mini-sheet of two stamps denominated 89c and 1.45Euros. It was issued in 2012 and thus I do not have a catalog number yet. Both of the individual stamps show details of the instrument. The selvage of the sheet shows the entire instrument. Only one aware of the unique design nature of the organ would realize that it is indeed an organ, since there are no visible pipes.

France: St Andrew, Issenheim

This cover has a cachet which shows the facade of the Callinet organ in St Andrew's Church, Issenheim. The Decouverte Orgue site has a nice summary of the organ. The instrument was built in 1835 by Joseph Callinet. A donor made financial provision for the upkeep of the instrment and for training young organists in 1869. The most recent work on the instrument seems to have been in 1996 by the Schwenkedel firm.

The cover features a pre-printed stamp image. There is no copyright date on the envelop, so it's not possible to determine when it was issued. It has a self-adhesive closure on the back, with a removable paper strip revealing adhesive.

Spain: Seville Cathedral

Spain issued this souvenir sheet in 2012. The stamp itself shows the exterior of the Seville Cathedral. The selvage surrounding the stamp shows an interior view of the cathedral including the facade of the organ. The cathedral was completed in the 16th century and at that time replaced Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral building in the world. It remains 4th largest today. It was declared a UN World Heritage site in 1978.

The Biographical Dictionary of the Organ site gives a straightforward stoplist. Gerhard Grenzing's site gives a little more general information of the organ (scroll down to get to the information about Seville Cathedral) plus the stoplist and some nice images. This is the firm which I believe maintains the instrument presently. Apparently a roof collapse destroyed previous instruments in the cathedral, leading to a new instrument in 1903. This stamp is a new issue, such that I don't not have a Scott catalog number for it yet.

German Democratic Republic: Musical Instrument Museum

I got this cover from my friend Mark Jameson in Great Britain. While the stamp does not show a pipe organ, both the postmark and the cachet show an organ. The stamp shows a German tenor flugelhorn from about 1850. The postmark shows an indeterminate organ; the cachet shows an Italianate positiv from around 1500. Looking through the Museum's website I could not find an image of any of these instruments. It seems that this cover was posted August 21, 1979. The stamp was issued in that same year. The museum was founded in 1886 by Paul de Wit, near the St Thomas Church in Leipzig. It's not quite clear if 1979 was an anniversary year for any other point in the museum's history. There are two additional small stamps in the upper left corner of the cover, perhaps to pay additional postage to Uruguay. With the music-related stamp, the postmark and cachet, along with special postal markings, this is a very compelling cover even if the stamp itself is non-organic. Though I could not find the two specific instruments shown on this cover, here are a couple other instruments from the museum's collection.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Czech Republic: Cistercian Monastery

This instrument is in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary at the Cistercian Monastery in Plasy, Czech Republic. There is a wiki page dedicated to the instrument, but sadly no pictures are included. This stamp was issued in 2011. It's not clear if the issue of the stamp coincided with any anniversary related to the instrument or its locale. I do not yet have a Scott catalog number for the stamp. The organ was built in 1688 by Abraham Stark of Loket; I have not yet found any more information about him. Most recently in 2000 the organ received a major overhaul from Vladimir Slajch; that coupled with another bit of work 2004-2006 was intended to restore the organ to its 1688 state. The monastery site has lots of photos; I found two of the organ.

There is a wiki for the organ. I was able to gather this information about the specification.


C, D, E, F, G, A-c3

Principal 8

Spillflo├Âte 8

Salicional 8

Quntato├Ân 8

Copl Major 8

Copl Minor 4

Fugura 4

Octava 4

Grosse Quint 3

Superoctava 2

Klein Quint 1 1/3

Sedecima 1

Mixtura IV
Cimbln III

Same as HW
Coupla 8
Flaut Minor 4
Principal 4
Octava 2
Spitzflet 2
Quinta 1 ½
Sedesima 1
Mixtura III
Coupler II/I

C, D, E, F, G, A-c1
Subbass offen 16
Subbass Gedeckt 16
Octava 8
Quinta 6
Superoctava 4
Mixtura IV

Built 1688 by Czech Abraham Stark from Loket, originally with 29 registers. Greatly altered in the 18th century, work was also done in the early 20th century. The most recent work was by Vladimir Slajch during 2004-2006.