Arthur Rubinstein, 1887 – 1982

January 28, 1887 – Birthdate of Arthur Rubinstein.

Rubinstein was a Polish American classical pianist. He received international acclaim for his performances of the music written by a variety of composers and many regard him as the greatest Chopin interpreter of his time.  He was described by The New York Times as one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century.  He played in public for eight decades.

While he was an agnostic, Rubinstein was nevertheless proud of his Jewish heritage.  He was a great friend of Israel, which he visited several times with his wife and children, giving concerts with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, recitals, and master classes at the Jerusalem Music Centre. In 1949, Rubinstein—who lost family members in the Holocaust—along with other prominent musicians (including Horowitz and Heifetz) announced that he would not appear with the Chicago Symphony if it engaged the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, who had remained in Germany during the war.  (Yehudi Menuhin was upset with this boycott, declaring that some of the main organizers had admitted to him that they had organized it only to eliminate Furtwängler’s presence in North America)

Throughout his life, Rubinstein was deeply attached to Poland. At the inauguration of the United Nations in 1945, Rubinstein showed his Polish patriotism at a concert for the delegates. He began the concert by stating his deep disappointment that the conference did not have a delegation from Poland. Rubinstein later described becoming overwhelmed by a blind fury and angrily pointing out to the public the absence of the Polish flag. He then sat down at the piano and played the Polish national anthem loudly and slowly, repeating the final part in a great thunderous forte. When he had finished, the public rose to their feet and gave him a great ovation.  (from Wikipedia)

In 1986, Israel released a stamp with three portraits of Rubinstein drawn by Pablo Picasso:

arthur-rubinstein-israel-picasso 1986.jpg

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756 – 1791

January 27,1756 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian pianist and composer.

Mozart, baptized as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era.

Born in Salzburg, Austria, he showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court, but grew restless and traveled in search of a better position. While visiting Vienna in 1781, he was dismissed from his Salzburg position. He chose to stay in the capital, where he achieved fame but little financial security. During his final years in Vienna, he composed many of his best-known symphonies, concertos, and operas, and portions of the Requiem, which was largely unfinished at the time of his death. The circumstances of his early death have been much mythologized. He was survived by his wife Constanze and two sons.

He composed more than 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, operatic, and choral music. He is among the most enduringly popular of classical composers, and his influence is profound on subsequent Western art music. Ludwig van Beethoven composed his own early works in the shadow of Mozart, and Joseph Haydn wrote that “posterity will not see such a talent again in 100 years.” (from Wikipedia)

Mozart has been the subject of hundreds of postage stamps and his life and music have inspired an entire topical area of philately devoted to him.

Today, I will share just a few of the many examples issued by the postal authorities of the world:

Austria, 1956:

mozart-austria-1956

Vatican City, 2006:

mozart-vatican-2006

West Germany, 1991:

magic-flute-stamp-1991-west-germany

Cyprus, 2011:

mozart-cyprus-2011

Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky, 1880 – 1940

January 26, 1935: In a speech before 3,800 people at the Mecca Temple, Vladimir Jabotinsky, Zionist Revisionist leader urged his listeners to put the development of a Jewish national state in Palestine ahead of all other issues related to economic and political development.  (from “This Day … In Jewish History”, Mitch Levin).

Volumes have been written about Jabotinsky’s life and legacy, so I won’t elaborate in today’s post, but rather refer you to the Wikipedia article about him (he was known as Ze’ev or “wolf” Jabotinksy:   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ze’ev_Jabotinsky

In 1970, Israel issued an 80-agorot stamp in honor of Jabotinsky (Scott No. 410).  Shown here is a complete sheet of the stamp:

jabotinsky-1970

 

Sao Paulo, Brazil

January 25, 1554 – Founding of Sao Paulo city, Brazil.

São Paulo (Saint Paul in English) is a municipality located in the southeast region of Brazil. The metropolis is an alpha global city —as listed by the GaWC—and is the most populous city in Brazil, the Americas, and in the Southern Hemisphere. The municipality is also Earth’s 12th largest city proper by population. The city is the capital of the homonymous state of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous and wealthiest state. It exerts strong international influence in commerce, finance, arts and entertainment. The name of the city honors Saint Paul of Tarsus. The city’s metropolitan area of Greater Sao Paulo ranks as the most populous in Brazil, the 11th most populous on Earth, and largest Portuguese-speaking city in the world. (from Wikipedia)

Shown today is a Brazilian stamp which commemorates the World Skills Sao Paulo 2015 competition and annual conference:

 

brazil_20150203_01

Bucharest, Romania Jewish Community

January 24, 1862:  Bucharest was proclaimed capital of Romania. The Jewish population of Bucharest had grown from 127 families in 1820 to 5,934 persons in 1860. By the turn of the century, the Jewish population would exceed 40,000 people making them almost 15% of the city’s total population. (from “This Day … In Jewish History”, Mitch Levin)

When Charles von Hohenzollern succeeded Cuza in 1866 as Carol I of Romania, the first event that confronted him in the capital was a riot against the Jews. A draft of a constitution was then submitted by the government, Article 6 of which declared that “religion is no obstacle to citizenship “; but, “with regard to the Jews, a special law will have to be framed in order to regulate their admission to naturalization and also to civil rights “. On June 30, 1866, the Bucharest Synagogue was desecrated and demolished (it was rebuilt in the same year, then restored in 1932 and 1945). Many Jews were beaten, maimed, and robbed. As a result, Article 6 was withdrawn and Article 7 was added to the 1866 Constitution; it read that “only such aliens as are of the Christian faith may obtain citizenship”.

For the following decades, the issue of Jewish rights occupied the forefront of the Regat’s political scene. With few notable exceptions (including some of Junimea affiliates — Petre P. Carp, George Panu, and Ion Luca Caragiale), most Romanian intellectuals began professing antisemitism; its most virulent form was the one present with advocates of Liberalism (in contradiction to their 1848 political roots), especially Moldavians, who argued that Jewish immigration had prevented the rise of an ethnic Romanian middle class. The first examples of modern prejudice were the Moldavian Fractiunea libera si independenta (later blended into the National Liberal Party, PNL) and the Bucharest group formed around Cezar Bolliac. Their discourse saw Jews as non-assimilated and perpetually foreign – this claim was, however, challenged by some contemporary sources, and by the eventual acceptance of all immigrants other than Jews.

Antisemitism was carried into the PNL’s mainstream, and was officially enforced under the premierships of Ion Bratianu. During his first years in office, Brătianu reinforced and applied old discrimination laws, insisting that Jews were not allowed to settle in the countryside (and relocating those that had done so), while declaring many Jewish urban inhabitants to be vagrants and expelling them from the country. According to the 1905 Jewish Encyclopedia: “A number of such Jews who proved their Romanian birth were forced across the Danube, and when [the Ottoman Empire] refused to receive them, were thrown into the river and drowned. Almost every country in Europe was shocked at these barbarities. The Romanian government was warned by the powers; and Brătianu was subsequently dismissed from office”. Cabinets formed by the Conservative Party, although including Junimea’s leaders, did not do much to improve the Jews’ condition – mainly due to PNL opposition.

Nonetheless, during this same era, Romania was the cradle of Yiddish theatre. The Russian-born Abraham Goldfaden started the first professional Yiddish theatre company in Iași in 1876 and for several years, especially during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 Romania was the home of Yiddish theatre. While its center of gravity would move first to Russia, then London, then New York City, both Bucharest and Iași would continue to figure prominently in its history over the next century. (from Wikipedia)

Shown here is a joint Romania-Israel issue from 2009 which is a miniature sheet commemorating the first Yiddish Theatre in Iasi in 1876 and picturing Avram Goldfaden:

joint-romania-israel-yiddish-theatre-issue-1876-iasi

 

 

Also, shown here is a registered aerogramme posted from the Bucharest airport in 1959:

envelope-romania-1957-bucharest-airport-blue

The birth of Liechtenstein

January 23, 1718 – The Principality of Liechtenstein is created within the Holy Roman Empire.

Liechtenstein (German: Fürstentum Liechtenstein) is a doubly landlocked German -speaking microstate in Central Europe.  It is a constitutional monarchy with the rank of principality, headed by the Prince of Liechtenstein.

Liechtenstein is bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and Austria to the east and north. It has an area of just over 160 square kilometers (62 square miles) and an estimated population of 37,000. Divided into 11 municipalities, its capital is Vaduz and its largest municipality is Schaan.

On January 23, 1718, after the lands had been purchased, Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, decreed that Vaduz and Schellenberg were united and elevated the newly formed territory to the dignity of principality with the name “Liechtenstein” in honor of “[his] true servant, Anton Florian of Liechtenstein “. It was on this date that Liechtenstein became a sovereign member state of the Holy Roman Empire. It is a testament to the pure political expediency of the purchase that the Princes of Liechtenstein never visited their new principality for almost 100 years.

By the early 19th century, as a result of the Napoleonic wars in Europe, the Holy Roman Empire came under the effective control of France, following the crushing defeat at Austerlitz by Napoleon in 1805. Emperor Francis II abdicated, ending more than 960 years of feudal government. Napoleon reorganized much of the Empire into the Confederation of the Rhine. This political restructuring had broad consequences for Liechtenstein: the historical imperial, legal, and political institutions had been dissolved. The state ceased to owe an obligation to any feudal lord beyond its borders.

Modern publications generally attribute Liechtenstein’s sovereignty to these events. Its prince ceased to owe an obligation to any suzerain. From July 25, 1806, when the Confederation of the Rhine was founded, the Prince of Liechtenstein was a member, in fact, a vassal, of its hegemon, styled protector, the French Emperor Napoleon I, until the dissolution of the confederation on October 19, 1813.

Soon afterward, Liechtenstein joined the German Confederation (June 20, 1815 – August 24, 1866), which was presided over by the Emperor of Austria.

In 1818, Prince Johann I granted the territory a limited constitution. In that same year Prince Aloys became the first member of the House of Liechtenstein to set foot in the principality that bore their name. The next visit would not occur until 1842.  (from Wikipedia)

It wasn’t until 1912 that the postal authority of Liechtenstein would print its first stamps.  Displayed here is one of these, a 25-heller stamp with a profile of Prince Johann II:

liechtenstein-first-stamps-in-1912

Placido Domingo, 1941 –

January 21, 1941: Birthdate of Plácido Domingo the Spanish tenor “who spent three years” in Tel Aviv “in the early 1960’s…where “he learned the basic tenor repertoire before embarking on an international career.  (from “This Day … In Jewish History”, Mitch Levin)

In 2011, Guinee-Bissau issued a souvenir sheet on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Domingo’s birth.  Also pictured on the sheet are Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras – the other two members of The Three Tenors:

 

placido-domingo-guinee-bissau

Federico Fellini, 1920 – 1993

January 20,1920 – birthdate of Federico Fellini, Italian director and screenwriter.

Fellini was known for his distinct style that blends fantasy and baroque images with earthiness.  He is recognized as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time.  His films have ranked, in polls such as Cahiers du cinema and Sight & Sound, as some of the greatest films of all time. Sight & Sound lists his 1963 film “8 ½”  as the 10th greatest film of all time.

In a career spanning almost fifty years, Fellini won the Palme d’Or for La Dolce Vita, was nominated for twelve Academy Awards, and directed four motion pictures that won Oscars in the category of Best Foreign Language Film. In 1993, he was awarded an honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement at the 65th Annual Academy Awards in Los Angeles.

On October 28, 2010, Italy issued a 0,60-euro postage stamp commemorating Fellini (shown here):

federico-fellini-italy-2010

Paul Cezanne, 1839 – 1906

January 19, 1839: Birthdate of French post-impressionist painter Paul Cezanne.  Cezanne was not Jewish.  But he did enjoy a connection to the Jewish people which is illustrative of the state of French society in Pre-World War I France. Cezanne grew up in Aix-en-Provence, where he was a childhood friend of Emile Zola, the novelist who wrote “J’Accuse,” the widely read exposé on the framing of Alfred Dreyfus, the French Jewish army officer falsely convicted of espionage. Cezanne was an ardent Dreyfusard and exulted, along with other intellectuals and the French Jewish community, when Dreyfus was finally exonerated. Later in life Cezanne developed a relationship with Camille Pissarro, a Sephardic Jew and fellow Impressionist with whom he painted side by side in Paris and in Aix-en-Provence.  (from “This Day … In Jewish History”, Mitch Levin)

On March 15, 1939 the French postal administration issued a 2,25-franc stamp with a portrait of Cezanne (Michel No. 439).  Also, in 1994 France released a 2,80-franc stamp with a Cezanne watercolor of the Sainte-Victoire mountain (Michel No. 3032) which was within viewing distance of the artist’s home:

paul-cezanne-france

cezanne-mt-sainte-victorie

Ignacy Jan Paderewski, 1860 – 1941

January 18, 1919 – Ignacy Jan Paderewski becomes Prime Minister of the newly independent Poland.

Paderewski was a Polish pianist and composer, politician and spokesman for Polish independence.  He was a favorite of concert audiences around the world. His musical fame opened access to diplomacy and the media.

Paderewski played an important role in meeting with President Woodrow Wilson and obtaining the explicit inclusion of independent Poland as point 13 in Wilson’s peace terms in 1918, called the Fourteen Points.  He was the Prime Minister of Poland and also Poland’s foreign minister in 1919, and represented Poland at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He served 10 months as prime minister, and soon thereafter left Poland, never to return.

After the Polish Defensive War of 1939 Paderewski returned to public life. In 1940 he became the head of the National Council of Poland, a Polish parliament in exile in London. He turned to America for help as well. He spoke to the American people directly over the radio, the most popular media at the time; the broadcast carried by over a hundred radio stations in the United States and Canada. In late 1940 he crossed the Atlantic again to advocate in person for the cause of aiding Europe and defeating Nazism. In 1941, he witnessed a touching tribute to his artistry and humanitarianism as US cities celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first American tour by putting on a Paderewski Week with over 6000 concerts in his honor. The eighty-year-old artist also restarted his Polish Relief Fund and gave several concerts to gather money for it. However, his mind was not what it had once been: scheduled to play Madison Square Garden for the second time in his career, he refused to appear, insisting that he had already played the concert, presumably remembering the concert he had played there in the 1920s.  (from Wikipedia)

In 1960, the U.S. Postal Service issued two stamps honoring Paderewski as part of its Champions of Liberty series.  Both the 4-cent (Scott No. 1159) and 8-cent (Scott No. 1160)  varieties are shown here: