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Alsatian organist, writer on music, especially that of J. S. Bach, also theologian, philosopher, and medical doctor.

Career Summary

Schweitzer studied organ playing under Widor in Paris, and music theory under Heinrich Bellermann in Strasbourg. He was a crucial figure in the new movement toward historical organ building in the early 20th century, with an important article presented to the Internationale Musikgesellschaft (International Music Society) in 1909. He spent much of his life from 1913 on at the missionary hospital that he founded in Lambaréné, in Africa. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

His best-known book on music is J. S. Bach, le musicien-poète (Leipzig, 1905); German translation, greatly enlarged, as J. S. Bach (1908). This work is much concerned with interpretation and issues of authentic performance. Schweitzer also, with others, produced a complete edition of Bach's organ works (1912-14, 1954-67).

Schweitzer and Schenker

Schenker knew Schweitzer's book in the German translation (a copy of the 1922 edition of which was in his private library at his death), and quoted from it not infrequently: in Der Tonwille Heft 5, p. 27 (Eng. trans., I, 165-66), in relation to Bach's practice of copying the works of other, lesser composers; in his own essay on the opening chorus of the St. Matthew Passion in Der Tonwille Heft 10 = IV/4, p. 10 (II, 133-34), on the interpretation of that chorus; in his own essay on the Prelude to Bach's solo violin Partita No. 3 in E major in Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, vol. I, pp. 88-92 (Eng. trans., I, 48-50); and he mentions him in passing in vol. III, p. 14 (III, 3). In these passages he expresses agreement with much of what Schweitzer says, taking issue with him at the same time. Schenker kept six newspaper clippings of articles about Schweitzer from between 1923 and 1928 (OC 12/20; C/3, 116, 500, 504, 505).

There is no known correspondence between Schenker and Schweitzer.

Sources:

  • NGMD2
  • Baker's 1971
  • Musik und Theater, enthaltend die Bibliothek des Herrn Dr. Heinrich Schenker, Wien (Vienna: Antiquariat Heinrich Hinterberger[, 1935])
  • Federhofer, Hellmut, Heinrich Schenker nach Tagebüchern und Briefen ... (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1985)

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Correspondence

Diaries