Here at the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, we most often talk about the life of Dr. Schweitzer in the context of his work as a doctor, his philosophy of Reverence for Life, and his dedication to serving those most in need. But Dr. Schweitzer was a man of many gifts and talents aside from his founding of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné. He was also a music scholar and organist with expertise on the work Johann Sebastien Bach. He published two well-regarded books on the German composer’s work, co-founded the Paris Bach Society in 1905, and recorded many of his compositions.
As part of our year-long 75th anniversary celebration, we’ll pay homage to Dr. Schweitzer’s musical life with a free concert at Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Square on Tuesday, Sept. 29 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Renowned Master Organist Richard Webster, Trinity’s director of music, will perform a series of Bach’s compositions and offer reflections about Dr. Schweitzer and his status as an acclaimed organist and established authority on Bach. Webster will be joined by organist Collin Lynch, the associate director of music at Trinity Church.
Dr. Schweitzer’s passions for medicine and music were not mutually exclusive. Dr. Schweitzer funded the founding and maintenance of his hospital with proceeds from organ recitals he regularly gave in Europe over the course of many years. He concluded his long days of work at the Schweitzer Hospital Lambaréné by sitting down at his piano. In “Music in the Life of Albert Schweitzer: Selections from his Writings,” editor and translator Charles R. Joy quotes the celebrated harpsichordist and Schweitzer contemporary Alice Ehlers on Dr. Schweitzer’s devotion to playing music: “He loves music and needs it. Even in Africa, when working very hard, the day is not ended before he has his one hour of practice on his piano with organ pedals.”
You can see for yourself in this undated video titled “Albert Schweitzer: practicing Bach in Lambarene,” which depicts Schweitzer at the piano Ehler’s describes. (Random spoiler alert: this short clip also includes an adorable feline friend of Schweitzer’s making it perhaps one of the first “cat videos” ever created.)
We hope you’ll join us to celebrate ASF’s 75 th anniversary, to learn more about Dr. Schweitzer’s musical life, and most of all, to enjoy Webster’s and Lynch’s performance of Bach’s intricate and distinctive music.