Denmark. Faroe Islands, 2009, 8 Kr. x 8. 13 (1/4). multicoloured
Stanley Gibbons: 583/590
Yvert et Tellier: 655/662
Like a musical composition, The Lost Musicians (1950) is built up in four movements and, as one of William Heinesen’s principal works, has been translated into several languages. Heðin Brú (H. J. Jacobsen) translated it into Faroese in 1975. The action takes place during the years before and after the turn of the century, 1900, in a small town that bears a striking likeness to Torshavn. The musicians are first and foremost the brothers Mourits, Sirius and little Kornelius, with the addition of the university-educated Mortensen and music teacher Boman, who later becomes extremely important as Orfeus’ teacher. The brothers’ father, Kornelius Bell-ringer, builds aeolian harps that he hangs in the church steeple where the wind plays on them. These aeolian harps are the main reason why music becomes a central element in the brothers’ lives. Like their father, they lose out where material goods are concerned, but they search for everything that lies beyond everyday life. There are many colourful characters around the musicians who, like them, take delight in music. Most of them belong to the dregs of the town. The musicians, however, have opponents, with Ankersen, the chairman of the Christian temperance society, at their head. Stupidity and fanaticism, which motivate Ankersen, and evil, represented by Matti Gokk, play a major role in the musicians’ downfall, one after the other, while Ankersen wins the day in his struggle for the total prohibition of alcohol. Are philanthropy and love of music, which typify the musicians and their friends, lost forever? After all, no, because unlike the musicians, the extremely musical Orfeus, Mourits’ son, keeps both feet firmly on the ground. With help from his friends, he leaves the Faroes to study. The dream of the lost musicians thereby has a chance to be realised and thrive through Orfeus. Humour is never very far away in the novel, even during the darkest chapters of the action. And is almost grotesque in connection with the religious seduction and agitation represented by Ankersen. The narrative is also characterised by a mysterious atmosphere, usually connected with superstition, peculiar people, and gripping descriptions of the weather, etc. In this connection, the principal symbol in the book, the figurehead Tarira, who follows Orfeus, is mysterious to the very end when he sees his artistic course charted beneath the bowsprit of the Albatross. Her life, thus reflected in the light of day, is perhaps a sign that his aspirations have been transformed into pure reality.
Plots: Heinesen William