Albert Schweitzer

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Albert Schweitzer : biography

14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965

In 1955 he was made an honorary member of the Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth II.

 He was also a chevalier of the Military and Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem. Schweitzer died on 4 September 1965 at his beloved hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon. His grave, on the banks of the Ogooué River, is marked by a cross he made himself. 

His cousin Anne-Marie Schweitzer Sartre was the mother of Jean-Paul Sartre. Her father, Charles Schweitzer, was the older brother of Albert Schweitzer’s father, Louis Théophile.

Schweitzer was a vegetarian.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship was founded in 1940 by Schweitzer to unite U.S. supporters in filling the gap in support for his Hospital when his European supply lines was cut off by war, and continues to support the Lambaréné Hospital today. Schweitzer, however, considered his ethic of Reverence for Life, not his Hospital, his most important legacy, saying that his Lambaréné Hospital was just "my own improvisation on the theme of Reverence for Life. Everyone can have their own Lambaréné." Today ASF helps large numbers of young Americans in health-related professional fields find or create "their own Lambaréné" in the U.S. or internationally. ASF selects and supports nearly 250 new U.S. and Africa Schweitzer Fellows each year from over 100 of the leading U.S. schools of medicine, nursing, public health, and every other health-related field (including music, law, and divinity), helping launch them on lives of Schweitzer-spirited service. The peer-supporting lifelong network of "Schweitzer Fellows for Life" numbered over 2,000 members in 2008, and is growing by nearly 1,000 every four years. Nearly 150 of these Schweitzer Fellows have served at the Hospital in Lambaréné, for three-month periods during their last year of medical school.

Education

Albert Schweitzer’s birthplace, Kaysersberg. Born in Kaysersberg, Schweitzer spent his childhood in the village of Gunsbach, Alsace (), where his father, the local Lutheran-Evangelical pastor, taught him how to play music.. schweitzer.org Long disputed, the predominantly German-speaking region of Alsace or Elsaß was annexed by Germany in 1871; after World War I, it was reintegrated into France. The tiny village is home to the Association Internationale Albert Schweitzer (AIAS).. Schweitzer.org. Retrieved on 2012-08-01. The medieval parish church of Gunsbach was shared by the Protestant and Catholic congregations, which held their prayers in different areas at different times on Sundays. This compromise arose after the Protestant Reformation and the Thirty Years War. Schweitzer, the pastor’s son, grew up in this exceptional environment of religious tolerance, and developed the belief that true Christianity should always work towards a unity of faith and purpose.Seaver (1951) pp. 3–9.

Schweitzer’s home language was an Alsatian dialect of German. At Mulhouse high school he got his "Abitur" (the certificate at the end of secondary education), in 1893. He studied organ there from 1885–1893 with Eugène Munch, organist of the Protestant Temple, who inspired Schweitzer with his profound enthusiasm for the music of German composer Richard Wagner.A. Schweitzer, Eugene Munch (J. Brinkmann, Mulhouse 1898). In 1893 he played for the French organist Charles-Marie Widor (at Saint-Sulpice, Paris), for whom Johann Sebastian Bach’s organ-music contained a mystic sense of the eternal. Widor, deeply impressed, agreed to teach Schweitzer without fee, and a great and influential friendship was begun.Joy (1953) pp. 23–24.

From 1893 he studied Protestant theology at the Kaiser Wilhelm Universität of Straßburg. There he also received instruction in piano and counterpoint from professor Gustav Jacobsthal, and associated closely with Ernest Munch (the brother of his former teacher), organist of St William church, who was also a passionate admirer of J.S. Bach’s music.Joy (1953) p. 24. Schweitzer served his one year compulsory military service in 1894. Schweitzer saw many operas of Richard Wagner at Straßburg (under Otto Lohse), and in 1896 he pulled together the funds to visit Bayreuth to see Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen and Parsifal, and was deeply affected. In 1898 he went back to Paris to write a PhD dissertation on The Religious Philosophy of Kant at the Sorbonne, and to study in earnest with Widor. Here he often met with the elderly Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. He also studied piano at that time with Marie Jaëll.George N. Marshall, David Poling, , JHU Press, 2000, ISBN 0801864550 He completed his theology degree in 1899 and published his PhD thesis at the University of Tübingen in 1899.Joy (1953) pp. 24–25.