April 25, 2011

Lambarena - Bach Goes to Africa

An hommage to Albert Schweitzer

"Ethics is nothing other than Reverence for Life.
Reverence for Life affords me my fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, assisting and enhancing life, and to destroy, to harm or to hinder life is evil."
Albert Schweitzer

Albert Schweitzer (January 14, 1875-September 4, 1965) was born into an Alsatian family which for generations had been devoted to religion, music, and education. His father and maternal grandfather were ministers; both of his grandfathers were talented organists; many of his relatives were persons of scholarly attainments.

Schweitzer entered into his intensive theological studies in 1893 at the University of Strasbourg where he obtained a doctorate in philosophy in 1899, with a dissertation on the religious philosophy of Kant, and received his licentiate in theology in 1900. He began preaching at St. Nicholas Church in Strasbourg in 1899; he served in various high ranking administrative posts from 1901 to 1912 in the Theological College of St.Thomas, the college he had attended at the University of Strasbourg. In 1906 he published The Quest of the Historical Jesus, a book on which much of his fame as a theological scholar rests.

Meanwhile he continued with a distinguished musical career initiated at an early age with piano and organ lessons. Only nine when he first performed in his father's church, he was, from his young manhood to his middle eighties, recognized as a concert organist, internationally known. From his professional engagements he earned funds for his education, particularly his later medical schooling, and for his African hospital. Musicologist as well as performer, Schweitzer wrote a biography of Bach in 1905 in French, published a book on organ building and playing in 1906, and rewrote the Bach book in German in 1908.

Having decided to go to Africa as a medical missionary rather than as a pastor, Schweitzer in 1905 began the study of medicine at the University of Strasbourg. In 1913, having obtained his M.D. degree, he founded his hospital at Lambaréné in French Equatorial Africa, but in 1917 he and his wife were sent to a French internment camp as prisoners of war. Released in 1918, Schweitzer spent the next six years in Europe, preaching in his old church, giving lectures and concerts, taking medical courses, writing On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, The Decay and Restoration of Civilization, Civilization and Ethics, and Christianity and the Religions of the World.

Schweitzer returned to Lambaréné in 1924 and except for relatively short periods of time, spent the remainder of his life there. With the funds earned from his own royalties and personal appearance fees and with those donated from all parts of the world, he expanded the hospital to seventy buildings which by the early 1960's could take care of over 500 patients in residence at any one time.

At Lambaréné, Schweitzer was doctor and surgeon in the hospital, pastor of a congregation, administrator of a village, superintendent of buildings and grounds, writer of scholarly books, commentator on contemporary history, musician, host to countless visitors. The honors he received were numerous, including the Goethe Prize of Frankfurt and honorary doctorates from many universities emphasizing one or another of his achievements. The Nobel Peace Prize for 1952, having been withheld in that year, was given to him on December 10, 1953. With the $33,000 prize money, he started the leprosarium at Lambaréné.

Albert Schweitzer died on September 4, 1965, and was buried at Lambaréné.


Lambarena - Bach Goes to Africa

1 Excerpt from Cantata BWV 147 No.10-Voice 0:13
2 Sankanda+"Lasset Uns Den Nicht Zerteilen"-Voice 5:07
3 Mayingo+Fugue on Mayingo-Instrumental 2:12
4 Herr, Unser Herrscher from St. John Passion, BWV 245 No.1-Instrumental 4:39
5 Mabo Maboe+Gigue from Suite for Cello No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010-I 3:38
6 Bombé+"Ruht Wohl, Ruht Wohl, Ihr Heiligen Gebeine" from St. John Passio 3:48
7 Pepa Nzac Gnon Ma+Prelude from Partita for Violin No.3, BWV 1006-Instru 4:23
8 Mamoudo Na Sakka Baya Boudouma Ngombi+Prelude No.14, BWV 883-Voice 4:28
9 Agnus Dei from B Minor Mass, BWV 232-Voice 5:06
10 Ikokou-Instrumental 2:11
11 Inongo+Three-Part Invention No. 3 in D Major, BWV 789-Voice 5:40
12 Okoukoué+Cantata BWV 147 No. 10 (Excerpt)-Instrumental 1:54
13 Ihr Lieblichste Blicke, Ihr Freudige Stunden from Cantata BWV 208 No.15 3:03
14 Excerpts from "Mousse Biabatou"+"Jesus Bleibet Meine Freude" from Canta 2:14

If you need a pass
please guess...


or just for fun
type in thegoodone

The impetus behind this album, developed by Mariella Berthéas, was to create a tribute to Albert Schweitzer by bringing together the two musical traditions that were central to his life: the works of J.S. Bach and the musics of Gabon, where he dedicated his life to service as a medical missionary in the city of Lambaréné. To call this a crossover album, though, would be to misrepresent it; this is no clever synthesis of two disparate traditions. It's difficult to characterize the relationship between the two musical cultures. To say that the musics are "coordinated" misses the surprising spontaneity of the juxtapositions, but to say that they are "thrown together" suggests a randomness that underestimates the skill and art of the arrangers, Hughes de Courson and Pierre Akendengué. The music of Bach and the musical traditions of Gabon coexist without giving up their own integrity, and interact with varying degrees of obvious connection. The CD features classically trained European musicians, 10 ensembles from Gabon, and several Argentinean musicians, who worked together in the studio many months to create the album. The most successful tracks mysteriously capture the underlying musical impulse common to the two traditions, and the result opens up new meanings, and sounds natural and organic. For example, it's astonishing, on track 2, how beautifully a traditional song from Gabon dovetails and overlaps with "Lasset uns den nicht Zerteilen," from the St. John Passion, and how they complement each other in their exuberant affirmation of life. On track 6, the simultaneous performance of a ritual that includes a clapping pattern and hooting vocalizations and a chorus from the St. John Passion is breathtaking. Not all the efforts are equally successful; the chant at the end of the Agnus Dei from the B minor Mass simply sounds tacked on. But when the mix works, as it usually does, the effect is revelatory, transformative. The sound is intensely clean and beautifully differentiated, highlighting the wonderful strangeness of the mixing of traditions. Source

“Lambarena, Bach to Africa” was the idea of Mariella Berthéas and the foundation “L’espace Afrique”, organized to make this recording possible. Uniting the two integral elements which formed Schweitzer’s “sound world” - the music of Bach and the native melodies and rhythms of his adopted homeland Gabon - Lambarena is the work of two uniquely talented musicians: Hughes de Courson, French composer and producer, who pieced together the classical structure of Lambarena, and Pierre Akendengué, author, philosopher and guitarist from Gabon with more than 12 recordings to his credit.

De Courson and Akendengué began work on Lambarena by linking the traditional harmonies of Bach to various Gabonese ethnic harmonies (there are at least 42 different ethnic backgrounds in a country of one million inhabitants), creating a fascinating fabric of sound woven together from Gabonese chant voices and the classical melodies of Bach, permeated throughout by the underlying rhythms of the African forest.

Following months of preparation, the 10 musical ensembles from Gabon chosen by Pierre Akendengué to participate in Lambarena travelled to Paris to join with Western classical musicians as well as Argentinean tango and Jazz musicians Osvaldo Calo and Tomas Gubitsch, and percussionists Sami Ateba and Nana Vasconcelos for nearly 100 days in the recording studio. More...


  1. Sou uma curiosa eterna apaixonada pelo Dr. Albert Schweitzer. Coloquei em homenagem aos seus 137 anos, em 14/01/2012 Lambarena em nosso Site da Casa que mantemos em reverencia ao Dr. Albert, uma Casa de caridade principalmente para os afrodescendentes. Organizo o nosso site fazendo pesquisas, é um site educativo além de divulgar o nosso projeto, nosso site www.casahumanitaria.com, por favor faça-nos uma visita e veja como Dr. Albert está presente com a perpetuação de todas as suas idéias. Meu e-mail para contato tonione@globo.com, o e-mail da nossa Casa casahumanitaria@casahumanitaria.com. Obrigada pela atenção. Vou continuar a divulgar o nosso lema "que esta casa permaneça com a força da África em nossos corações, em nome de Jesus! Atenciosamente, Ione Rates