The Arts on the Stamps of the World — January 30

An Arts Fuse regular feature: the arts on stamps of the world.


By Doug Briscoe

Today is the birthday of German composer Johann Joachim Quantz (30 January 1697 – 12 July 1773), who served Frederick the Great (see Jan. 24), writing hundreds of sonatas and concertos for the flute, which both he and the king played. Quantz also made flutes and wrote a treatise on flute performance. The stamp was issued in anticipation of the bicentenary of his death.

Also born on this day was the poet and polymath Adelbert von Chamisso (1781 – 21 August 1838), son of a count born at the family estate in Champagne. The family escaped the French Revolution and eventually settled in Berlin, where Adelbert remained in order to pursue his military career. He founded a short-lived periodical called The Berlin Almanac of the Muses and contributed some poems to it. In the years to come he turned to botanical research, joined the circles of Germaine de Staël and E.T.A. Hoffmann (see Arts Fuse of January 24), joined a round-the-world scientific expedition on a Russian ship, took charge of the Berlin botanical gardens, wrote a tract on the Hawaiian language, and returned to literature, founding another magazine, this time called The German Almanac of the Muses. His importance as a botanist eclipses his poetry, but among his efforts in the latter category are the cycle Frauenliebe und -leben (1830), famously set by Schumann (as well as by Loewe, Lachner, and others) and the story “Peter Schlemihl”, about a man who sells his shadow.


Isaak Osipovich Dunayevsky (also Dunaevski or Dunaevsky; [O.S. 18 January] 1900 – 25 July 1955) was an enormously successful Soviet film composer and conductor, active in the 1930s and 40s. In addition to his 42 film scores, he wrote 14 operettas, 3 ballets, much incidental music, and 52 works for orchestra. Many of his songs are very popular in Russia. There is no stamp for him, but this postal card from the year 2000 celebrates his centennial.

Albanian composer Tish Daija (1926 – 3 October 2003) wrote what is credited as the first Albanian ballet, Halili and Hajria (1963), a work of great popularity in his country, having been given some 250 times. He also composed an opera called Spring (Pranvera) and in his youth had a distinguished record as a footballer! Albania issued this full set of six stamps commemorating Halili and Hajria in 1971.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in English, Doug Briscoe worked in Boston classical music radio, at WCRB, WGBH, and WBUR, for about 25 years, beginning in 1977. He has the curious distinction of having succeeded Robert J. Lurtsema twice, first as host of WGBH’s weekday morning classical music program in 1993, then as host of the weekend program when Robert J.’s health failed in 2000. Doug also wrote liner notes for several of the late Gunther Schuller’s GM Recordings releases as well as program notes for the Boston Classical Orchestra. For the past few years he’s been posting a Facebook “blog” of classical music on stamps of the world, which has now been expanded to encompass all the arts for The Arts Fuse.

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