Friday, March 15, 2013

Maldives: Beethoven

The nation of Maldive Islands issued a large set of stamps commemorating the 150th anniversary of the death of Ludwig van Beethoven in 1977. The Maldive Islands are a collection of many small islands in the Indian Ocean. They were at one time a British Protectorate, but gained independence and formed a republic in 1965/1968. This stamp is part of a set of eight stamps (Scott 669-676), plus a small souvenir sheet (Scott 677). The low-value of the set depicts Beethoven as "court organist" in Bonn and includes a rendering of what is presumed to be the Court Organ.  I had never thought of Beethoven as an organist, but apparently early on, he did indeed play the organ.

Since this was an aspect of Beethoven I had never encountered, I did some checking of sites that included biographies of the composer:

First this: The most notable of his teacher was Christian Gottlob Neefe, who was responsible for introducing young Ludwig to the music of JS Bach. By 1782, Beethoven was already assisting Neefe as deputy court organist in Bonn, and it was in the same year that his first work, a set of variations on a march theme by Dressler, was published.

Then this: In June 1784, on Neefe’s recommendations Ludwig Van Beethoven was appointed organist of the court of Maximillian Franz, the Elector of Cologne. Beethoven was 14 years old. This post enabled him to frequent new social circles, other than those of his father and family. Here he met people who were to remain his friends for the rest of his life: The Ries family, the Von Breuning family, and the charming Elenore, Karl Amenda—the violinist, Franz Gerhard Wegeler—a doctor, and a dear friend who also went to Vienna.

And finally: By the age of eleven, Beethoven was studying with Christian Gottlob Neefe, who became court organist to the elector in 1781. Neefe gave Beethoven lessons in theory, composition, organ, piano, and continuo playing, as well as opening Beethoven up to the world of J. S. Bach. Neefe then hired the promising boy as his assistant while continuing his musical education. When Neefe left Bonn for a few weeks in 1782, the eleven year-old Beethoven successfully took over Neefe's duties.

However, despite all of this, I cannot find any information about the organ itself. I would be happy to hear from anyone who can provide such information. Though it's obvious he played the organ, I have not ever encountered any compositions for the instrument among Beethoven's oeuvre, though I've been wrong before.

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