December 6, 2012
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
Born into a Lutheran family in Alsace-Lorraine at a time when it was a part of the German Empire, Schweitzer was an organ prodigy who studied with Charles-Marie Widor at Saint-Sulpice in Paris, and became famous for his scholarship and for his interpretation of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was a powerful advocate for the preservation and restoration of the historic pipe organs of Europe, many of which have therefore been available to inform my own work. Through his study of theology he developed a personal philosophy he called Reverence for Life, which held that the ethical person does not allow his or her ‘will to live’ to overcome the right of those around us to thrive as well. Schweitzer expressed this philosophy by setting aside his promising academic and musical career, spending seven years to become a medical doctor, and establishing a hospital in an extremely remote area of colonial French Equatorial Africa, now Gabon, setting an example followed by generations of altruists, culminating in the work of NGO’s such as Doctors without Borders. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.