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.

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