Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DDR: Handel

The DDR issued a pair of stamps honoring Handel on 27 April, 1959, commemorating the 200th anniversary of the composer's death. Handel was born in Halle, Germany which between the end of World War II and reunification, was situated in East Germany. The 10pf green stamp shows a statue of Handel from Halle. The 20pf red stamp shows the composer as depicted by Thomas Hudson in a painting of 1748. There is nothing particularly organ-related about the stamps, other than the fact that Handel composed for the instrument, and was a proficient player.

DDR: Schweitzer

The German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik, DDR) issued a set of three stamps honoring Albert Schweitzer on 14 January 1965. It was the honoree's 90th birthday. The stamps are denominated 10pf, 20pf and 25pf and are distinctly green, red, and blue. The third stamp shows the doctor seated at a console, presumably that of an organ. The background shows the score for the B-minor prelude (and fugue) for organ. The stamp is not directly organ-depicting, but has enough organ-related interest to warrant inclusion here. The stamps are SCN 748-750.

Australia: Royal wedding

HRH Prince William married Catherine Middleton in 29 April 2011. The wedding took place in Westminster Abbey. Australia issued a mini-sheet of two stamps in anticipation the event on 12 April. The two stamps include a $2.25 denominated stamp with cream-colored background and a 60c stamp with gold-colored background. Both stamps feature the same straightforward image of the couple. The selvage of the mini-sheet, however, shows the interior of the Abbey, including the organ. The history of the Westminster Abbey organ is well-documented.

Spring Garden Moravian Church: Antigua & Barbuda

This mini-sheet consisting of a single stamp was issued 19th December 2005 by the island nation of Antigua. It is part of a set of stamps for Christmas, ten individual stamps, plus 2 mini-sheets. All of the stamps commemorate church buildings in Antigua, featuring a view of the exterior of the church. The other mini-sheet also with a $5 denomination shows the exterior of St. John's Cathedral. The current stamp is the only one in the set to show an interior scene, and it happens to include the organ facade along with clergy and choristers. I tried to find out more information about the church but their website is not active. The only detail I could discern was that the church was founded in 1756. Most of the organ's facade is in the selvage, but it seems a single pipe made it within the perforations.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Vatican: Europa 2014

Vatican City, seat of the Roman Catholic church and located entirely withing the city of Rome, Italy issued two Europa Stamps in 2014. The pair feature organs in Vatican churches. These two stamps were a gift from my friend Mark Jameson in Reading, GB. I don't have Scott catalog numbers as my set goes only through 2009.

St John Lateran organ (.70 Euro)
The St John Lateran instrument was begun in the late 1500's and intended to be of the finest and largest in Europe. Biagi built the instrument though the casework was designed and executed by others. Like any prestigious instrument this one went through, or endured, or indeed suffered, from various repairs replacements and enhancements over the years. While some original pipework exists in the instrument, it's very different from the original, though it is now usable by modern musicians in a contemporary worship setting. The most recent extensive work was completed in 1989 with lesser work done in 2002-2003. Four (!) other instruments exist in St John Lateran, an organ for both the Epistle and Gospel transcepts, a very small choir organ and an instrument in Corsini chapel. This wiki gives helpful information, though in Italian.

Choir Chapel Organ, St Peter's (.85 Euro)
The second of the stamp pair shows the Chapel Choir organ in St Peter's Basilica. This is a modern instrument built in 1974 by the Tamburini firm. It's a rather modest instrument of two manuals and pedal. This wiki gives information about all the instruments in St Peter's. A whole book has been written, devoted to the 1875 Cavaille-Coll instrument in the basilica.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Bach portrait

This image of JS Bach at an organ console is rather famous in some circles. It's unique for it shows the composer seated at an organ console. We gain insight into the attire one might wear whilst playing during this era, something about the console layout, etc. Details about the image are scarce however. All I have been able to determine is that the Getty image most often encountered is based on a print of perhaps 1725 found now in the British Museum. One colleague suggested that the basis of the print may be the console of the organ in the New Church, Arnstadt.

This picture has been used in several stamp images over the years, sometimes black&white, sometimes colorized, sometimes reversed, etc. I also recently encountered this image, similar but slightly different. I wonder if the two images are related somehow.

(The image has also been satirized in various ways. It's such a fascinating image that it's a shame we don't know more about the details.)


Handel memorial

This mini-sheet consisting of a single stamp was issued in 2009 by the Handel Haus Stiftung (Handel House Foundation) to commemorate the 250 anniversary of the death of Handel. Located in Halle, Germany the Handel House preserves and promotes all things Handelian.This bespoke stamp was a promotional item in 2009. The stamp consists of a portrait of Handel, that by Thomas Hudson from the 18th century, hanging in the Handel House facility. For our purposes, however, it is the selvage that is more compelling, for it contains elements of a pipe organ, along with potions of a musical score. The facade shown is not familiar to me; others may recognize it. The mini-sheet also includes what seems to be a slogan of sorts, "Es lebe der liebe Sachsie." That seems to me to render as "love live the beloved Saxon" (Handel), but my knowledge of idiomatic German is limited.