The music philatelist S. Sankaranarayanan has produced monthly articles for the magazine Sruti almost without a break since April 2004.
Each article covers the issuance of a stamp (or group of stamps) by the Indian Department of Posts and includes a philatelic report along with a first day cover and background information on the stamp’s subject—these have included exponents of the Karnatak and Hindustani traditions as well as Indian folk musicians, dancers, musicologists, and patrons of the arts.
Above, a first day cover of a 1961 stamp honoring the Karnatak composer Tyāgarāja (1767–1847); Sankaranarayanan’s article about this stamp appeared in Sruti 269 (February 2007), pp. 40–41.
The 1909 Austro-Hungarian postcard reproduced above wryly depicts two aspects of Franz Liszt’s persona: the devout abbé of his later years and—if you look closely—the libertine of his scandalous youth. (Click to enlarge.)
Postage stamps are singular sources for music iconography. Since these images comprise officially sanctioned national and international recognition, they provide windows on what governments and constituencies in various cultures and at various times have deemed worthy of celebration.
For example, the South Indian magazine Sruti regularly features philatelic reports on stamps issued by the Indian Department of Posts; these include an impressive number of commemorations of composers and performers from India’s classical Karnatak and Hindustani traditions. The stamp pictured above was issued to honor the śahnāī player Bismillāh Khān (1915–2006) on 21 August 2008.
Below, the music of Ghanaian postal workers canceling stamps.
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