Albert Schweitzer

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Albert Schweitzer : biography

14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965

The Schweitzer Technique

Schweitzer developed a technique for recording the performances of Bach’s music. Known as "The Schweitzer Technique", it is a slight improvement on what is commonly known as mid-side. The mid-side sees a figure-8 microphone pointed off-axis, perpendicular to the sound source. Then a single cardioid microphone is placed on axis, bisecting the figure-8 pattern. The signal from the figure-8 is mult-ed, panned hard left and right, one of the signals being flipped out of polarity. In the Schweitzer method, the figure-8 is replaced by two small diaphragm condenser microphones pointed directly away from each other. The information that each capsule collects is unique, unlike the identical out-of-polarity information generated from the figure-8 in a regular mid-side. The on-axis microphone is often a large diaphragm condenser. The technique has since been used to record many modern instruments.

Columbia recordings

Altogether his early Columbia discs included 25 records of Bach and eight of César Franck. The Bach titles were mainly distributed as follows:

  • Queen’s Hall: Organ Prelude and Fugue in E minor (Edition PetersSchweitzer’s Bach recordings are usually identified with reference to the Peters Edition of the Organ-works in 9 volumes, edited by Friedrich Conrad Griepenkerl and Ferdinand Roitzsch, in the form revised by Hermann Keller. Vol 3, 10); Herzlich thut mich verlangen (BWV 727); Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein (Vol 7, 58 (Leipzig 18)).(78 rpm HMV C 1532 and C 1543), cf R.D. Darrell, The Gramophone Shop Encyclopedia of Recorded Music (New York 1936).
  • All Hallows: Prelude and Fugue in C major; Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (the Great); Prelude and Fugue in G major; Prelude and Fugue in F minor; Little Fugue in G minor; Toccata and Fugue in D minor.(78 rpm Columbia ROX 146–52), cf. Darrell 1936.
  • Ste Aurélie: Prelude and Fugue in C minor; Prelude and Fugue in E minor; Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Chorale Preludes: Schmücke dich, O liebe Seele (Peters Vol 7, 49 (Leipzig 4)); O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (Vol 5, 45); O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig (Vol 7, 48 (Leipzig 6)); Christus, der uns selig macht (Vol 5, 8); Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stand (Vol 5, 9); An Waßerflüßen Babylon (Vol 6, 12b); Christum wir wollen loben schon (Vol 5, 6); Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier (Vol 5, app 5); Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin (Vol 5, 4); Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig (Var 11, Vol 5, app. 3); Jesus Christus, unser Heiland (Vol 6, 31 (Leipzig 15)); Christ lag in Todesbanden (Vol 5, 5); Erschienen ist der herrlich Tag (Vol 5, 15).Joy (1953) pp. 226–230. The 78s were issued in albums, with a specially designed record label (Columbia ROX 8020–8023, 8032–8035, etc). Ste Aurélie recordings appeared also on LP as Columbia 33CX1249E.M.I., A Complete List of EMI, Columbia, Parlophone and MGM Long Playing Records issued up to and including June 1955 (London 1955) for this and discographical details following.

Gunsbach parish church, where the later recordings were made

Later recordings were made at Parish church, Günsbach:

  • Fugue in A minor (Peters, Vol 2, 8); Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (Great) (Vol 2, 4); Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major (Vol 3, 8).Columbia LP 33CX1074
  • Prelude in C major (Vol 4, 1); Prelude in D major (Vol 4, 3); Canzona in D minor (Vol 4, 10) (with Mendelssohn, Sonata in D minor op 65.6).Columbia LP 33CX1084
  • Chorale-Preludes: O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß (1st and 2nd vsns, Peters Vol 5, 45); Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein (Vor deinen Thron tret ich hiermit) (vol 7, 58 (Leipzig 18)); Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ (Vol 5, 30); Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ (Vol 5, 17); Herzlich tut mich verlangen (Vol 5, 27); Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland (vol 7, 45 (BWV 659a)).Columbia LP 33CX1081

The above were released in the United States of America as Columbia Masterworks boxed set SL-175.

Philips recordings

  • J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in A major, BWV 536; Prelude and Fugue in F minor, BWV 534; Prelude and Fugue in B minor, BWV 544; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 538.E.M.G., The Art of Record Buying (London 1960), pp. 12–3. Philips ABL 3092, issued March 1956.
  • J. S. Bach: Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582; Prelude and Fugue in E minor, BWV 533; Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543; Prelude and Fugue in G major, BWV 541; Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565.E.M.G., op. cit., Philips ABL 3134, issued September 1956. Other selections are on Philips GBL 5509.
  • César Franck: Organ Chorales, no. 1 in E Major; no. 2 in B minor; no. 3 in A minor.Philips ABL 3221.