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The Beckmessers

January 12, 1986

Martin Bernheimer's Beckmesser Awards are one of the highlights of my musical year, but his Curiouser and Curiouser Award to the U.S Postal Service for issuing a 22-cent stamp honoring Jerome Kern and a 2-center for Igor Stravinsky should actually have been a sotto voce cheer ("The Beckmesser Awards of 1985," Dec. 29).

The 2-cent stamp issued to honor Stravinsky is the first to honor a foreign-born composer, one who not only chose to be born abroad but who also chose to be buried on foreign soil, in Venice, though he did have U.S. citizenship.

True, the Irish-born Victor Herbert was also philatelically recognized by the Post Office Dept. (as it once was called), but in his case the major phase of his career was entirely conducted in the United States.

In Stravinsky's case, since the precedent-breaking period of his creativity took place long before his coming to these shores, perhaps the Postal Service was being too generous; maybe it should have been a penny stamp, like the one for Dorothy Dix.

As for Jerome Kern, he was born in New York City in 1885 and died there 60 years later.


Principal Librarian, Art

Music and Recreation Dept.

Los Angeles Public Library

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