Many famous personalities, representatives of all kinds of professions were fond of collecting stamps. Maybe the most prominent among them are musicians. Among the stamp collectors we find the names of the composers Dmitry Kabalevsky and Kar Karaev, Russian conductor Yuri Silantev and American conductor Leopold Stokowski, the Austrian composer Robert Stolz and the head of company that produces world-famous grand pianos - Theodore Steinway. With some of them were happening really fascinating stories.
The famous Italian singer Titta Ruffo was an enthusiastic stamp collector. During his tour to St. Petersburg a group of students asked him to take part in a charity concert. Biggest part of the profit from the concert had to provide financial assistance to the needy students. The singer not only agreed to give a concert, he also gave all his fee to the charity.
When students of St. Petersburg asked Titta Ruffo, if there is something, they could do for him to show their appreciation, the famous singer, said: "Let each of the students sitting in the hall give me one postage stamp." After the concert, which had a great success, the students handed to the singer a great album, which had about two thousand stamps.
Another interesting story happened to Titta Ruffo in Argentina. During the tour, in Buenos Aires, the country's president presented famous singer with his portrait and two rare stamps of Argentina. Next day Titta Ruffo had a visitor - the philatelist, who offered him any money for one of those stamps, that were donated by the president. The philatelist explained, that it was the only stamp, that his collection of Argentine stamps was lacking to be absolutely full. For a long time philatelist was trying to persuade a singer, but he resolutely refused to sell the gift of the president.
A few days later Titta Ruffo learned that his recent guest had a heart attack, and he is in the hospital in serious condition. Believing himself responsible for the incident, the singer, moved by compassion, rushed to the hospital. He said to the frenzied collector: "I can not sell the president's present, but no one can stop me from giving it to You as a gift".
A year later, Ruffo again visited Argentina and met again with the same philatelist. He said: "Last year, when you gave me life back by giving me that stamp, you have proven that your generosity is as big as your art of singing. My days are numbered. I could not find for my collection more worthy successor than you. I urge you to take it from me as a gift." The singer refused. And after a while the story still had a follow-up: according to the will of the owner, the entire collection of stamps of Argentina was sent for Titta Ruffo to Italy.
In the old magazines you can find another version of this story that has the same beginning, but a completely different ending. It is said that during a tour in Argentina of a Titta Ruffo's predecessor, no less famous Italian singer, outstanding master of bel canto Enrico Caruso, president invited him and gave him one of the rarest stamps of Argentina. Caruso, who was an enthusiastic philatelist and in all his trips tried to supplement his collection, was overjoyed and heartily thanked the president.
The next morning at breakfast Caruso was reading the newspapers with the rave reviews of his concerts. Journalists also wrote about the philatelic hobby of a great singer and about the presidential gift. Suddenly someone knocked the door, and accompanied by a hotel messenger there came elegantly dressed middle-aged man. Apologizing for an early visit, he asked to listen to him, because he came on an urgent and important matter.
The visitor explained that he is collecting stamps of Argentine for a long time, and for the full completeness his collection is lacking only one stamp - the one that Caruso has received from the president. He offered 3000 pesos for that stamp. Caruso refused to sell the stamp, not wanting to offend the president. Guest, offering to raise the price, carefully examined the rare stamp through a magnifying glass. At this time the phone rang. Portier said that the carriage arrived to take Caruso to a rehearsal in the Theatre. Caruso apologized to a visitor, and the gentleman with his farewell said once again that his offer still stands. The singer put an envelope with a rare stamp over the pile of newspapers on the table, got dressed, locked the door and gave the key to the clerk.
After the rehearsal, colleagues invited Caruso to the gala dinner in his honor, then drove him to see the sights of Buenos Aires. Entertainment was keeping Caruso away from his hotel room until the evening. When tired after the concert, Caruso returned to the room, he remembered about the stamp, but did not find it on the table. He searched everything in the room, but could not find the stamp. Did the morning guest stole it? Frustrated, Caruso called the Police Commissioner and asked for help in a very delicate matter about which he can not talk on the phone.
Half an hour later Commissioner with two detectives were at the hotel. After listening to Caruso and viewing the list of visitors, they asked to describe the singer's missing stamp. Then they carefully examined the room, searched all the corners. Not finding the missing stamp, they went away, promising to notify the singer, if there would be any news. Caruso reproached himself for oversight and was very angry with the visitor, in full confidence that he intentionally diverted his attention and stole the stamp.
After lunch, the police inspector came again. From the breast pocket he got a bit crumpled envelope with a rare stamp inside, gave it to Caruso and said: "Is that what You lost?"
"So he actually stole it! - exclaimed Caruso. - Where did you find it? " The Inspector replied that no one stole it. This is a maid, cleaning the room, who threw in the garbage the precious envelope along with a pile of yesterday's newspapers. After going through the contents of the box, detectives discovered the missing stamp.
Something similar to the case that was in St. Petersburg with Titta Ruffo, happened in our time with an outstanding opera singer of Romania - Zenaida Palli. As reported by the newspaper "Skynteyya", Palli was fond of philately since the school time. When she for the first time arrived on tour in Paris, she was watching with interest the building of the famous "Grand Opera", comparing it with the images, that she had seen on the stamps. Someone noticed this, of course, the newspapers wrote immediately about it as well. The next day after the concert Zenaida received maybe a little bit less flowers than usual, but ... the enthusiastic audience presented her with few stamp-albums and a lot of envelopes with the stamps.
An ardent admirer of the philately was a prominent Vienna opera singer and actor Leo Slezak (1873-1946), the subject of the Austrian stamp issued on the 100th anniversary of his birth, August 8, 1973. The magnificent opera singer was a great stamp expert (especially if it was about German or Austrian stamps), and he also for a long time promoted philately as the best form of relaxation. In his memoirs, Leo Slezak has devoted a special chapter to the stamps collecting. Here are short excerpts from it:
"Once I was one of those people who are looking at the stamp collectors with some sort of regret, considering them to be not quite normal people, and asked myself: how can you sit at the desk for hours, exploring some watermarks, forgetting everything around? But when I found myself in the powers of this magic, I could finally understand this passionate devotion, and since then I am very thankful to my favorite stamps for many wonderful hours when I was taken away from all my worries and professional anxieties.
When, after the execution of large and difficult role I get back home tired and sit back with my stamps, I again become buoyant and cheerful. And when my wife sent down by God appears as a vision in the night-clothes and asks if I'm going to sleep, the clock often shows already three o'clock in the morning ...
A real collector has to make a lot of accuracy, precision and patience, if he wants to bring his collection to a state in which it can make an impression on other collectors ... These little things offer so much and require so little ... Nothing but reciprocity that I can give them and take from them when I only want. This bliss never ends. "
Curious case happened to Leo Slezak during his tour in Hamburg. One day he received the following letter: "Dear maestro! Your show has given me such a great pleasure that I feel compelled to thank you. Like you, I collect stamps and I would consider it as an honor if from the doublets of my old Hamburg stamps you will choose something for your collection. I'm waiting for you tomorrow at five o'clock at my house. Sincerely yours Engelbert. "
The singer did not know the sender, but the proposal aroused in him the philatelic curiosity. The next day he went by taxi to visit the stranger. Mr. Eigelbert politely greeted the honored guest at his suburban villa, invited him to the table, continuously lavishing complements to the talent of the famous tenor. Rhapsody of the host was not interrupted for nearly an hour, but he did not mention a word about the promised stamps. Slezak was getting nervous, because at seven o'clock his concert had to begin and the singer knew, that it will take quite some time to get to the center of Hamburg. Suddenly the door opened and into a spacious living room rushed a crowd of ladies and gentlemen, they all gathered around Slezak and started to lavish compliments to the celebrity guest. Singer internally was furious, but gave no sign and correctly answered a barrage of questions. Finally he managed to say goodbye and leave. The concert began with an hour late, when the frightened and confused impresario was about to inform the police about the disappearance of a great singer.
The next day came a letter of apology from Engelbert. He explained that he made a bet with his friends, by which he had to receive Leo Slezak in his villa. Since he won the bet, he offers a considerable sum in compensation for disturbing the adored maestro. Since then, Leo Slezak was concealing his passion for philately, not to be a puppet in the hands of strangers.