Saturday, April 25, 2015

Vatican: bas-reliefs

In 1966 Vatican City issued a set of 12 stamps. These were all images of bas-relief carvings found in the private chapel of the Pope. The first of the set of 12 is a carving of Pope Paul VI, done by Enrico Manfrini. The other (artists and craftsmen) carvings were executed by Mario Rudelli; they are found on a chair in the chapel. Each of the stamps is a different color. The stamps depict: organist; painter; cartographer; sculptor; bricklayer; printer; farmer; blacksmith; scholar. The organist is seated at a positiv organ, which is equipped with a built-in stand. The organ seems to have a single set of pipes. The organist stamp (Scott 424) is part of a set that includes the regular issues named above, plus two special delivery stamps showing the pope and the papal arms (Scott E17-E18).

Wallis and Futuna: Schweitzer

Wallis and Futuna issued this stamp (Scott #330) in 1985 honoring Albert Schweitzer. While the doctor's relationship with Africa is well-established and -known, I am curious about his appearance on the stamp of a Polynesian country. The stamp appears to have been issued to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. Perhaps it is Schweitzer's relationship with France itself which prompts his appearance on the stamp of a French territory stamp.

In any case, the doctor's image is shown on the stamp, along with that of an unidentified boy. The boy's features are imprecise such that he may be intended to represent youth of Wallis and Futuna, or perhaps youth of Africa. The boy is wearing a necklace which to those knowledgeable in such areas may provide clues as to his ethnicity. Some plant life is shown in the background, as well as a (church?) stained glass window and some organ pipes arranged in a round facade feature. We cannot know the site of the window nor organ, or if they are simply non-specific artistic representations.

I have a document that lists all the pipe organ stamps that I am aware of. It includes information that was in an old list developed by a member of the American Topical Society many years ago. The notes for this stamp include "Strasbourg Cathedral organ." A quick look at various images of the organ in the Strasbourg Cathedral reveals that the pipes on the stamp _could_ be from the cathedral organ. But the correlation is tenuous at best. There simply is not enough context provided with the stamp image to know for certain. I'm going to maintain my designation as "unidentified."

Wallis and Futuna: Ronsard

Wallis and Futuna is a French-related island nation in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. It has had a complicated history. For several years it was a "French overseas territory." Since 2003 it has been termed a "French overseas collectivity." The land area of these islands is barely 50 square miles; the population is around 12,000 persons.

The present stamp was issued in 1985 (Scott #329), 300 years after the death of the stamp's subject, Pierre de Ronsard. Ronsard was a French poet. He is best known for his "love poetry" and his masterful use of language and meter.

The stamp features an image of Ronsard, in silhouette, super-imposed over a compelling drawing. A woman is standing at a table of some type, and is shown playing a positiv organ. A man's face peers over the row of pipes. He may be manipulating the pump for the organ, or perhaps is merely a listener to the music. A curious face (human or animal?) is placed before the table, on the border between the silhouette of Ronsard and the drawing of the woman and organ. I suspect the drawing is an illustration of a scene from one of Rosard's writings. But as I am not at all fmailiar with his oeuvre, I cannot but suppose. There doesn't seem to be any relationship between Ronsard himself and music, let alone the organ. Perhaps someone more familiar with his writings can clarify if this may be a scene from one of the writers works.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Canadian International Organ Competition

I had a nice note today from Alexia Jensen with the Canadian International Organ Competition. They happened upon this blog recently and asked if I could add a link for the CIOC at the bottom of the page. Of course I am glad to do so. From their website: Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC) promotes organ music namely by increasing public awareness and interest for this music.

The CIOC presents, every year in October, a festival with some of the world's finest organists. Every third year, the CIOC organizes an international competition in which a prestigious jury representing various countries awards important prizes to a selection of the best young organists in the world.

Seeking to actively participate in the cultural life, the CIOC annually develops a programme of activities in collaboration with various organisations of the organ world; these musical and educational activities are designed to emphasize the cultural importance of pipe organs – treasures of our heritage – for a wide and diverse audience.

Every now and then I hear from someone who has discovered this blog and I am delighted. I am honored the CIOC is interested in promoting this blog in their on-line resources, and am happy to return the favor.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Romania: organ cover

This cover doesn't have a pipe organ stamp, but rather includes a detailed photograph of an organ in an illustration on the left portion of the envelop. In philatelic parlance this is a cachet. Using Google translate I get "musical autumn." "Clujeana" doesn't translate, maybe because of missing diacritical markings. It may be referring to Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the second largest city in that country, and a possible site for a major autumn concert series. The third line of text specifically mentions the sixth Mendelssohn organ sonata, the one in which the chorale "Vater unser" features prominently. Below the image, the recitalist, a German, is named. It would seem the venue/sponsor of the recital went to a great deal of trouble to publicize the event. One wonders if other covers feature other concerts from the autumn season concert series. The postmark includes the same copy as the cachet, but also includes an image of Mendelssohn and his signature. The stamp itself (Scott 4159) is also from 1997, and depicts a monument and a cathedral, issued for a maximum card event that year, Balcanmax. Maximum cards are a rarified form of philatelic endeavore in which the stamp, the postmark, and the postcard or envelop all share a common theme or design element. In this case, the postmark and cachet are thus united, but the stamp foils the effort. Nonetheless, it's a nice piece of organ ephemera and a nifty way to publicize an organ recital. Without knowing the name of the building in which this pictured organ is located, I have not yet been able to track down more specific information about it. The postmark mentions the Transylvania Philharmonic orchestra, which is based on Cluj. If one could ascertain the venues in which they may perform, one may learn which organ this is.