Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Soviet Union: Artur Kaap

Artur Kaap (1878-1952) was an Estonian composer of considerable import. He studied organ and composition. After work in Russia he returned to Estonia and taught at the Tallinn Conservatory. His influence upon modern Estonian music is considerable. Two of his most important symphonic works utilize organ.

This postal card was issued by the Soviet Union in 1978 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth. The postage imprint features an organ facade; the left side of the obverse depicts Kaap.

Kaap was born in Suure-Jaani, Estonia. The organ depicted on the post card seems to be the organ in the Orthodox church there. A music festival now takes place in the town; the church's organ is also used during the Estonian organ festival.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Slovakia: Eugen Suchon

I have to admit I had never heard of Eugen Suchon before encountering this stamp. Born in 1908 his father was an organist. His early piano studies led to further training school. He studied in Bratislava and Prague. He has a nicely rounded oeuvre including music for a wide variety of instruments, voices and combinations. A psalm cantata and a folk-song -based opera sealed his place as a Slovak composer of considerable import.

The present stamp features an image of the composer, an organ facade, the composer's name and signature. The organ may be that in the Reduta concert hall, home of the Slovak Philharmonic orchestra. The image I found on the orchestra's site is rather distant, but one can discern the medallion on the facade, which seems to correspond to that pictured on the stamp.

Suchon's connection to the organ seem solid if somewhat slim. His father was an organist. As a composer, there seem to be three larger-scale works for organ, all with orchestra.

This stamp (Scott 539) was issued in 2008, to honor the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Poland: Oliwa Cathedral

I found in some of my early documents a note about the 1985 Bach stamp issued by Poland (Scott 2712). The note simply said "Oliwa." Hoping that was a city with a church containing the instrument depicted on the stamp I did some hunting. It is indeed! Oliwa is a section of the city of Gdansk (Danzig) on the Baltic coast of Poland. The cathedral in this section of the city is a three nave basilica begun in 1186 as a monastery. It survived the Protestant Reformation, restoration and the establishment of a diocese in this part of town. As of 1992 it is an archcathedral dedicated to the Holy Trinity, BVW and St. Bernard. The organ has an equally colorful history. As built between 1763 and 1788 the instrument had 83 ranks over 3 manuals and pedal with mechanical action. It had significant work done in the mid 1800's which added Romantic colors. The most recent work, 1966-1968, brought the instrument to 96 ranks over five manuals and pedal. The facade pipes are those installed by Wulff in the 18th century. Nowhere is it made clear any direct connection between JS Bach and this organ, leading to their inclusion on the 1985 stamp.

Soviet Union: Alfred Kalnins postal card

The Soviet Union issued this card in 1979, the hundred anniversary of the birth of composer Alfred Kalnins. Born in Lativa, the postcard hails Kalnins as a "people's composer of the Lavitan Socialist Republic." In addition to composing, Kalnins was an organist, teacher, conductor and music critic. His most enduring composition is his nationalistic opera Banuta. He spent most of his life in and around Lativa, except for a stint in New York City (1927-1933). He held organist and teaching position in Parnu, Leipjaj, and Tarnu, before settling near the end of his life in Riga, and serving as organist of the Riga Dom and rector of the Latvian Academy of Music.

The art on this postcard features a building facade, perhaps that of a music conservatory in one of the cities mentioned here. Also included is a page from a musical score, presumably an image of one of Kalnins' works.

The 4-kopek postage image includes a representation of Kalnins and the facade of an organ. I do not believe the organ is that in the Riga Dom, but that begs the question which organ is it? Two other instruments of some import are related to Kalnins, that in St Anna's Cathedral and Holy Trinity both in Leipaja. I have not been able to find images of those churches' interiors nor their instruments.

Penrhyn: Christmas

Penrhyn is the largest and most remote of 15 islands in the Cook Island system. An atoll, it has a mere two villages. Land area of the ring-like island is not quite 10 square kilometers, and population is less than 300 persons. The postal administration issued a mini-sheet of three stamps in 1980 for Christmas. The three stamps, 20c, 35c, and 50c, are each artistic presentations of the Madonna and Child. The caption describes them as 15th century paintings from the museum in Cataluna (the Catalonia region of Spain). The selvage holds the organ-related interest: angels are depicted on the left and right sides of the selvage, each holds a musical instrument. One of these holds a small portativ instrument.

Russia: JS Bach

Much like the 1985 issue from Poland, this stamp is a small souvenir sheet that includes a single stamp. Scott 5346 was issued in 1985, honoring the birth 300 years earlier of JS Bach. The present stamp features stylized pipes and wood-scrollwork in the selvage. An inscription at the bottom notes the anniversary year. The stamp itself also shows Bach's signature.

Poland: Bach

Though at the time not a member of the European Union, Poland issued in 1985 a stamp that seems to fit the music heme that year. Scott 2712 depicts JS Bach and an organ case. There were actually two versions of this stamp issued. One has an inscription at the bottom (like my example above) which in rough translation acknowledges the 300th anniversary of the birth of Bach. This version saw only limited release and is fairly valuable. The second version omits the inscription and is more common. The stamp also features a large Baroque organ case. I cannot tell what instrument it may be; others more acquainted with Bach organs may recognize it. This stamp, because it was released as a single stamp in a very large selvage, actually qualifies as a mini-sheet, or souvenir sheet.

Netherlands: Europa, 1985

The Netherlands prepared a pair of stamps for the 1985 music year. Scott 669-670 feature a piano keyboard on the low-value and  stylized organ pipes on the 70c stamp.

Malta: Art works

Malta issued a set of four stamps in 2004 celebrating works of art. The 20c stamp (Scott 1182) pictures organ pipes and a bit of music. The organ pipes are from the instrument in the Cathedral in Mdina. Robert Buhagiar has a very nice description of the organ and the work he has done on it. The Scott catalog tells us that the musical example on the stamp is from a work by Begninon Zerafa. He was director of cathedral music 1744-1787. The stamp set exist as individual stamps but are also combined on a souvenir sheet (Scott 1185).


Friday, January 17, 2014

Mali: Mozart

Mali honored W. Amadeus Mozart in 1981 with a set of two stamps which includes artistic representations of the composer along with several musical instruments, organ among them. Being artistic representations, no specific organ is identified. Both of the stamps in this set paid airmail postage.

Malta: Christmas

Malta issued three sets of stamps in 1973 that all utilized the same general look and format. The third set of three stamps includes two stamps that include stylized organ pipes. The first  (Scott B13) features angels singing; the second (B15) shows a building, candles and a tambourine with pipes barely showing behind. The stamps are all artistic renditions, so no specific pipe organ is shown. Scott does not specify the recipient of the surcharge funds.

Liechtenstein: Music Year

The year 1985 was a very important year for pipe organs on stamps. European nations for many years issued stamps on a selected theme yearly. In 1985 the chosen theme was music. This year was the 300th anniversary of the birth of both Handel and Bach. Liechtenstein issued a set of two stamps for the Music Year theme. The low value includes a portativ organ. The artist of this painting is not identified. The Scott catalog  (#804) describes it as "three muses." The organ looks like a typical single rank of pipes instrument, with fewer than 30 keys. An angel is working the bellows for the player. Other instruments are a flute and some variety of stringed instrument.