Albert Schweitzers perception of Bach by Harald Schützeichelby Harald Schützeichel | Het ORGEL | Year 96 | (2000) | Issue 4
Het ORGEL 96 (2000), nr. 4, 7-14 [summary]
Albert Schweitzer(1875-1965) was a student of Charles-Marie Widor. Widor was the first French organist toteach Bachs music to his students. He confessed to Schweitzer that he did not quiteunderstand Bachs chorale preludes; Schweitzer pointed out that understanding thetext was the key to a correct interpretation. Widor encouraged Schweitzer to write hisfamous book about Bach: J.S. Bach (1908).
According to Schweitzer, Bach was an architect who had completed the gothicart of music; a poet and a painter with music; a mystic. The essence of gothic art forSchweitzer was the free connection of different (musical) lines to a new unity. This viewof Bachs music resulted in a new condition for playing Bach properly: one had teunderstand the architectural structures of his music. As a poet and painter, Bach was ableto explain in his music aspects of texts that could not be explained in words. Properunderstanding of how these motives are expressed is another condition for playing Bach.Mystic meant to Schweitzer becoming one with Christ, finding peace and ease in the unitywith the eternal will of God. The difference between Bach and other mystics is that Bachuses music to express this state of grace whereas other mystics use words.
According to Schweitzer, the true organ was the Bach-organ.This true organ was a new organ type that was based upon organtypes of thepast.
To Schweitzer, Bach was an artist who guided people to inner peace. This correspondswith Schweitzers own self-perspective as a musician, as well as his humanitarian andspiritual ideals.