The ethical concept that he followed in his life and work at an African hospital was contained in the following sentences: “I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live”; “It is good to maintain life and to further life”.
He was born into an Alsatian family which was devoted to religion and music for generations. He wrote a biography of Bach in French (1905), which became one of the key works on the oeuvre of the great composer for the entire century. In the following year, Schweitzer published a book on organ building and playing. He was barely 9 when he played the organ at his father’s church in Gunsbach, and still performed publicly to international acclaim when he was over 80. He spent the funds from his concerts initially for his higher education, especially in Medicine, and then for his hospital in Lambaréné (Gabon).
He started intense theology studies in 1893 at the University of Strasbourg where he gained a doctoral degree in Philosophy in 1899 with his dissertation on the religious philosophy of Kant. A year later, he was awarded a doctoral degree in Theology. In 1906, he published a paper in German on the history of research into the life of Jesus. In 1905, he undertook studies in Medicine in Strasbourg as he decided to become a physician rather than a minister, to relieve the suffering people in Africa. Having obtained a doctoral degree in Medicine in 1913, he founded a hospital at Lambaréné in French Equatorial Africa, a colony in Central Africa between the Congo River and the Sahara Desert (now Gabon).
In 1917, he and his wife were interned (as Germans) in France. Released a year later, he spent six years in Europe, preaching, giving lectures and concerts, writing a cultural study paper where he formulated the principle of reverence for life that includes all forms of life. In 1924, he came back to Lambaréné where he lived until the end of his life. Using his royalties, funds from recordings, concerts and donations coming from all over the world, he extended his hospital to 60 buildings that at the beginning of the 1960s could house as many as 500 patients. He used the funds from the Nobel Peace Prize, 33,000 dollars, to create a leprosarium in Lambaréné.