This year nearly two hundred events will mark the hundredth anniversary of the founding in 1913 of the Hospital Lambaréné in Gabon, Central Africa, by Albert Schweitzer. Organ concerts, church services and meditations will take place in the churches where the Nobel Peace Prize winner had performed during his lifetime. Donations collected at the concerts will go towards the support of the Albert Schweitzer Foundation Lambaréné.
The funds required to renovate the Hospital Lambaréné are estimated to total nearly five million euros, but, to date, only ten percent of that sum has been raised by the Foundation. That organization, based in Frankfurt, is mounting this year’s Schweitzer commemoration in order to further the mission of that great humanitarian.
As a theologian and philosopher, as well as organist and musicologist, Albert Schweitzer wrote scholarly works and embraced the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. His organ teacher, Charles-Marie Widor, suggested that Schweitzer author a pamphlet on Bach so that French organists might become more familiar with Bach’s Protestant church music. That initial effort eventually led to Schweitzer’s monograph J. S. Bach (Leipzig 1908) with a foreword contributed by Widor. While many of the biographical details and performance dates of particular cantatas cited by Schweitzer have now been superseded by more recent musicological research, Schweitzer’s music aesthetic remains of great historical significance.
For Albert Schweitzer had said, “For Bach, sound never faded away, but, instead, it continually rose in ineffable praise to God. [With his music,] the Cantor of St. Thomas Church, one of the greatest mystics the world has ever witnessed, spoke to the people and led them from a noisy, conflicted world to a place of serene peace.”
An outline of Albert Schweitzer commemorative events in 2013 is available here.