In 1935-1936 physician, philosopher, and musicologist Albert
Schweitzer made a series of recordings for Columbia Records
of organ works by Johann Sebastian Bach. These works were
recorded in England and, most importantly from the historical
perspective, at the church of Ste. Aurélie in Strasbourg, whose
organ designed by Johann Silbermann was of a type favored
by Bach himself.
Europe at that time was going to hell in a hand basket — the
Spanish Civil War, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler establishing his
"1000-year Reich," and the pogroms of Joseph Stalin in the
A strange time to go in and record works by a composer who
had been dead almost two centuries. I had these recordings
when I was young, which back then were issued on two vinyl
disk volumes. My ear needed a bit of readjustment. There
were subtleties going on in the performance that it took a
good while and repeated hearings to fully understand:
an almost plastic sense of rhythm, tiny variants in
rubato across multiple voices. But once my ear
fell in synch with all of that the works emerged
in all their beauty and feeling.
Out of the abyss — the voice of the Creator.