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Casals, Pablo

Pablo Casals

Cellist, conductor, composer

Unusual Techniques Evoked More From Cello

Garnered New Respect for Bachs Music

Silenced Cello in Protest of Oppression

Selected writings

Selected compositions

Selected discography

Sources

From the age of ten, Pablo Casals began each day with a walk, taking inspiration from nature. These outings were always followed by playing two Johann Sebastian Bach preludes and fugues on the piano when he returned home. It was, Casals expressed in Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals as Told to Albert E. Kahn, a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with an awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being. A deeply reflective man, Casals imbued his life with his own spiritual triumvirate: the wonder of nature, the music of Bach, and God. This in turn informed his art. Technically masterful, revolutionary even, his cello playing was elevated by his belief, as he defined it for Kahn, thatmusic [was] an affirmation of the beauty man was capable of producing.

Casals always felt it his obligation to share with others this access to beauty that transcended languages and borders. When political and egotistical pursuits caused conflicts between his fellow men, however, Casals fought for peace by silencing that beauty. At the height of his artistic prowess he remained in exile, his cello quiet. Nobel Prize-winning writer Thomas Mann, quoted by Bernard Taper in Cellist in Exile: A Portrait of Pablo Casals, believed Casalss art was allied to a rigid refusal to compromise with wrong, with anything that is morally squalid or offensive to justice.

Casals was born on December 29, 1876, in the seaside town of Vendrell, located in the Catalonian region of Spain. As a child he was surrounded by music. According to H. L. Kirk, author of Pablo Casals: A Biography, The atmosphere of music cradled Casalss earliest fantasies; much later he spoke of being bathed in it all the time. Casalss father, the local church organist and choirmaster, would play the piano while the infant Casals, barely old enough to walk, would rest his head against the instrument and sing along to the music he felt. By the age of four, Casals was playing the piano. The following year he joined the church choir. A year later he was composing songs with his father, and by the age of nine he had learned how to play the violin and organ.

Unusual Techniques Evoked More From Cello

When he was 11, Casals decided to study the cello after having seen the instrument in a chamber music recital. Though his father wanted him to apprentice to a carpenter, his mother insisted he follow his inclination toward music, enrolling him in the Municipal School of Music in Barcelona, Spain. The young Casals disgreed

For the Record

Born Pau Carlos Salvador Casals y Defilló, December 29, 1876, in Vendrell, Catalonia, Spain; died October 22, 1973, in San Juan, Puerto Rico; son of Carlos (a church organist and choirmaster) and Pilar Ursula (Defilló) Casals; married Susan Metcalfe, 1914 (separated, 1928; divorced, 1957); married Marta Montañez, 1957. Education: Graduated with honors from Municipal School of Music, Barcelona, 1893; studied with Tomás Bretón and Jesús de Monasterio, 1894-96.

First solo recital, Barcelona, 1891; played in cafe trio, Barcelona, 1891-93; performed for Queen Regent of Spain, 1894; appeared with orchestras in Paris and Madrid, 1895-97; debut as soloist with Lamoureux Orchestra, Paris, 1899; began worldwide concert tours, often playing solo, 1900; performed with trio including pianist Alfred Cortot and violinist Jacques Thibaud, 1904-37; organized and led Orquesta Pau Casals, Barcelona, 1920-36; in exile from Spain, 1936; sporadic appearances in France and Switzerland, 1939-42; participated in Prades Festival, Prades, France, 1950-66; organized and led Casals Festival, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1957-72; conducted special concert for United Nations General Assembly inaugurating his composition Hymn of the United Nations, October 24, 1971. Led master classes in cello performance in Switzerland, Italy, and the U.S.

Selected awards: Order of Carlos III; Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honor; United Nations Peace Medal; inducted into the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando of the Spanish Academy.

with the technical constraints advocated by his instructors, preferring to bow and finger the cello in his own manner. His progress was extraordinary, however, and soon Casalss revolutionary techniques had exposed a range of phrasing, intonation, and expressiveness that had not previously been thought possible, and [made] the cello an instrument of high purpose, Taper noted in Cellist in Exile.

Among those impressed by the ability of the young virtuoso was the Spanish composer and pianist Isaac Albéniz. Upon hearing Casals play in a cafe trio, Albéniz gave him a letter of introduction to Count Guillermo de Morphy, secretary to the Queen Regent of Spain, Maria Cristine. In 1894 Casals traveled to Madrid and gave informal concerts for the queen and her court. Over the next few years, his reputation spread as he played with various orchestras in Paris and Madrid. With his formal debut as a concert soloist in Paris in 1899where he appeared with the prestigious orchestra of French conductor Charles LamoureuxCasalss career was assured.

What audiences heard in Casalss playing was a suffused reverence for everything around him. I have the idea of God constantly, he declared in McCalls. I find Him in music. What is that world, what is music but God? Those feelings were heightened for Casals in nature and in the music of Bach, as he indicated when he continued, explaining his morning ritual: I go immediately to the sea, and everywhere I see God, in the smallest and largest things. I see Him in colors and designs and forms.... [And] I see God in Bach. Every morning of my life I see nature first, then I see Bach.

Casalss devotion to the music of Bach was no more fully realized than in the Six Suites for solo cello. Sometime in 1890 while browsing through a Barcelona bookstore with his father, Casals found a volume of the suites. The discovery was enlightening. Previously the suites were considered merely musical exercises, but, even at that young age, Casals saw in them something deeper, richer. How could anyone think of them as being cold, when a whole radiance of space and poetry pours forth from them, he marveled in Joys and Sorrows. They are the very essence of Bach, and Bach is the very essence of music. Casals studied and practiced the suites every day for a dozen years before he exposed them to the public, and he continued to play at least one suite every day for the rest of his life.

Garnered New Respect for Bachs Music

His performance of the suites both shocked and astounded listeners. During the nineteenth-century revival of Bachs music, only the cantatas and the religious works were played in public. It was believed that the solo music for strings had no warmth, no artistic value. With these exercises, however, Casals displayed the [German] master as a fully human creator whose art had poetry and passion, accessible to all people, author Kirk stated in Pablo Casals: A Biography. [Bach], who knows everything and feels everything, cannot write one note, however unimportant it may appear, which is anything but transcendent, Casals stressed to José Maria Corredor in Conversations With Casals. He has reached the heart of every noble thought, and he has done it in the most perfect way.

Casalss interpretation of the suites, his true testament, came into disfavor after the 1940s when a more historically correct reading of lightness and spontaneity was advanced, in marked contrast to his dramatic renderings. Almost every movement of the suites, in Casalss hands, William H. Youngren maintained in the Atlantic, vividly projects the image of a powerful Romantic sensibility engaged in an unceasing, heroic struggle with itself and with the universe. However, in a Strad review of a recent remastering of Casalss performances for compact disc, Tully Potter justified his passionate, ennobling vision: He builds up great waves of sound and tension, achieving an enormous physical and emotional release towards the end of each onea Romantic approach, perhaps, but valid here because the players heart, soul, and sinew are so completely behind every note.... [It is] a spiritual exaltation rare in any performance and still more so on record.

As he approached Bach and music, so did Casals approach life and other people. The pursuit of music and the love for my neighbors have been inseparable with me, and if the first has brought me the purest and most exalted joys, the second has brought me peace of mind, even in the saddest moments, Casals affirmed to Conversations With Casals author Corredor. I am everyday more convinced that the mainspring of any human enterprise must be moral strength and generosity. In 1891, while still in school, Casals came to understand the suffering and inequality of man as he walked among the poor on the streets of Barcelona. He vowed to use his gift from Godhis musicfor the welfare of his fellow people.

Silenced Cello in Protest of Oppression

Throughout his career, Casals championed the oppressed and neglected by writing letters and organizing concerts. He refused to perform in countries practicing political tyranny and repression: the Soviet Union in 1917, Germany in 1933, and Italy in 1935. In 1920, for the benefit of the Catalonian people, Casals organized and led the Orquesta Pau Casals, using the Catalonian version of his name. He supported the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, and when Nationalist General Francisco Franco rose to power in 1939, Casals announced he would never return to Spain while Franco was in power. He settled in Prades, France, giving sporadic concerts until 1946 when he renounced the stage altogether. In order to take a stand against dictatorships, Casals vowed never to perform again. As author Kirk put it in Pablo Casals: A Biography, His withdrawal into silence was the strongest action he felt he could make.

However, in 1950, urged on by friends, Casals resumed conducting and playing, taking part in the Prades Festival organized to celebrate the bicentennial of Bachs death. Though he picked up his cello again, he did not forget his causeat the end of the festival and every concert he gave after that, Casals played his arrangement of the Catalonian folk ballad Song of the Birds as a protest to the continued oppression he saw in Spain.

Casals never returned to Spain. In 1956 he settled in Puerto Rico, his mothers homeland, where he inaugurated the world-famous Casals Festival that spurred artistic and cultural activities on the island, including the founding of a symphony orchestra and a conservatory of music. During the rest of his life, Casals balanced his stand on the issues with his creative impulses. In 1958 he joined his friend, Nobel Prize-winning French philosopher and musicologist Albert Schweitzer, in calling for peace and nuclear disarmament. Casals also spoke and played before the United Nations General Assembly. He appeared before the General Assembly again in 1971, at the age of 95, when he conducted the first performance of his Hymn of the United Nations.

Though Casals had resumed performing, he refused to play in any country that officially recognized the totalitarian Franco governmentas did the United States. Until he died in 1973, Casals did not waver from this position, but for one important exceptionin 1961 he performed at the White House at the request of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a man Casals greatly admired. In Cellist in Exile, Taper quoted Kennedys introduction of Casals on that day: The work of all artistsmusicians, painters, designers, and architectsstands as a symbol of human freedom, and no one has enriched that freedom more signally than Pablo Casals.

Throughout his life, Casals exalted in the divine presence he found in music and in nature. He also sought to inspire and promote harmony among people, both with his cello and his silence. At his funeral, a recording of The Song of the Birds was played. At that moment, Kirk recounted in Pablo Casals: A Biography, the noble voice of Pablo Casalss cello commanded pause in the ceremony of the day, a last salutation, eloquent, profound, overwhelming.

Selected writings

(With Albert E. Kahn) Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals as Told to Albert E. Kahn, Simon and Schuster, 1970.

Song of the Birds: Sayings, Stories, and Impressions of Pablo Casals, compiled, edited, and with a foreword by Julian Lloyd Webber, Robsons Books, 1985.

Selected compositions

Cançó a la Verge, El Pessebre, Eucaristica, Hymn of the United Nations, O Vos Omnes, Recordare Virgo Mater, Rosari, Salve Regina, and Sardana.

Selected discography

As performer

Bach: The Six Cello Suites, EMI, 1988.

Beethoven: Cello Sonatas, CBS Masterworks, 1990.

Casals Festivals at Prades, Vols. 1 & 2, Music & Arts, 1991.

Encores: Boccherini and Haydn, Pearl, 1989.

Hommage à Pablo Casals: Dvorak and Bach, AS Disc, 1991.

Pablo Casals Plays Works for Cello and Orchestra, Pearl, 1989.

Schubert: String Quintet, Supraphon, 1991.

The Victor Recordings (1926-1928), Biddulph, 1991.

As conductor; on Sony Classical, 1990

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos 1-3.

Bach: Brandenburg Concertoes 4-6.

Bach: Orchestral Suites 2&3.

Beethoven: Symphonies 1 & 6.

Mendelssohn: Symphony 4.

Mozart: Serenades 11, 12; Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

Schubert: Symphony 8; Schumann: Symphony 2.

As composer

Casals: Sacred Choral Music, Koch-Schwann, 1991.

Sources

Books

Blum, David, Casals and the Art of Interpretation, Holmes & Meier, 1977.

Casals, Pablo, Song of the Birds: Sayings, Stories, and Impressions of Pablo Casals, Robsons Books, 1985.

Casals, Pablo, and Albert E. Kahn, Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals as Told to Albert E. Kahn, Simon & Schuster, 1970.

Corredor, José Maria, Conversations With Casals, Hutchinson, 1956.

Kirk, H. L. Pablo Casals: A Biography, Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1974.

Littlehales, Lillian, Pablo Casals, Greenwood, 1970.

Quintana, Arturo O., Pablo Casals in Puerto Rico, Gordon Press, 1979.

Taper, Bernard, Cellist in Exile: A Portrait of Pablo Casals, McGraw-Hill, 1962.

Peroidicals

American Record Guide, July/August 1991; November/December 1991; January/February 1992; March/April 1992.

Américas, July/August 1985.

Atlantic, November 1981.

McCalls, May 1966.

Musical America, July 1991.

New Yorker, April 19, 1969.

Strad, February 1989; September 1990.

Rob Nagel

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Pablo Casals

Pablo Casals

In protest of dictatorships throughout the world, including the totalitarian Francisco Franco regime in Spain, cellist Pablo Casals (1876-1973) refused in 1946 to ever perform on stage again. He eventually returned to playing for audiences but would not perform in countries that supported the Franco government.

From the age of ten, Pablo Casals began each day with a walk, taking inspiration from nature. These outings were always followed by playing two Johann Sebastian Bach preludes and fugues on the piano when he returned home. It was, Casals expressed in Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals as Told to Albert E. Kahn, "a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with an awareness of the wonder of life, with a feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being." A deeply reflective man, Casals imbued his life with his own spiritual triumvirate: the wonder of nature, the music of Bach, and God. This in turn informed his art. Technically masterful, revolutionary even, his cello playing was elevated by his belief, as he defined it for Kahn, that "music [was] an affirmation of the beauty man was capable of producing."

Casals always felt it his obligation to share with others this access to beauty that transcended languages and borders. When political and egotistical pursuits caused conflicts between his fellow men, however, Casals fought for peace by silencing that beauty. At the height of his artistic prowess he remained in exile, his cello quiet. Nobel Prizewinning writer Thomas Mann, quoted by Bernard Taper in Cellist in Exile: A Portrait of Pablo Casals, believed Casals's art was "allied to a rigid refusal to compromise with wrong, with anything that is morally squalid or offensive to justice."

Casals was born on December 29, 1876, in the seaside town of Vendrell, located in the Catalonian region of Spain. As a child he was surrounded by music. According to H. L. Kirk, author of Pablo Casals: A Biography, "The atmosphere of music cradled Casals's earliest fantasies; much later he spoke of being bathed in it all the time." Casals's father, the local church organist and choirmaster, would play the piano while the infant Casals, barely old enough to walk, would rest his head against the instrument and sing along to the music he felt. By the age of four, Casals was playing the piano. The following year he joined the church choir. A year later he was composing songs with his father, and by the age of nine he had learned how to play the violin and organ.

When he was 11, Casals decided to study the cello after having seen the instrument in a chamber music recital. Though his father wanted him to apprentice to a carpenter, his mother insisted he follow his inclination toward music, enrolling him in the Municipal School of Music in Barcelona, Spain. The young Casals disagreed with the technical constraints advocated by his instructors, preferring to bow and finger the cello in his own manner. His progress was extraordinary, however, and soon Casals's revolutionary techniques had exposed "a range of phrasing, intonation, and expressiveness that had not previously been thought possible, and [made] the cello an instrument of high purpose," Taper noted in Cellist in Exile.

Among those impressed by the ability of the young virtuoso was the Spanish composer and pianist Isaac Albéniz. Upon hearing Casals play in a cafe trio, Albéniz gave him a letter of introduction to Count Guillermo de Morphy, secretary to the Queen Regent of Spain, Maria Cristine. In 1894 Casals traveled to Madrid and gave informal concerts for the queen and her court. Over the next few years, his reputation spread as he played with various orchestras in Paris and Madrid. With his formal debut as a concert soloist in Paris in 1899—where he appeared with the prestigious orchestra of French conductor Charles Lamoureux—Casals's career was assured.

What audiences heard in Casals's playing was a suffused reverence for everything around him. "I have the idea of God constantly," he declared in McCall's. "I find Him in music. What is that world, what is music but God?" Those feelings were heightened for Casals in nature and in the music of Bach, as he indicated when he continued, explaining his morning ritual: "I go immediately to the sea, and everywhere I see God, in the smallest and largest things. I see Him in colors and designs and forms…. [And] I see God in Bach. Every morning of my life I see nature first, then I see Bach."

Casals's devotion to the music of Bach was no more fully realized than in the Six Suites for solo cello. Sometime in 1890 while browsing through a Barcelona bookstore with his father, Casals found a volume of the suites. The discovery was enlightening. Previously the suites were considered merely musical exercises, but, even at that young age, Casals saw in them something deeper, richer. "How could anyone think of them as being cold, when a whole radiance of space and poetry pours forth from them," he marveled in Joys and Sorrows. "They are the very essence of Bach, and Bach is the very essence of music." Casals studied and practiced the suites every day for a dozen years before he exposed them to the public, and he continued to play at least one suite every day for the rest of his life.

His performance of the suites both shocked and astounded listeners. During the nineteenth-century revival of Bach's music, only the cantatas and the religious works were played in public. It was believed that the solo music for strings had no warmth, no artistic value. With these "exercises," however, "Casals displayed the [German] master as a fully human creator whose art had poetry and passion, accessible to all people," author Kirk stated in Pablo Casals: A Biography. "[Bach], who knows everything and feels everything, cannot write one note, however unimportant it may appear, which is anything but transcendent," Casals stressed to José Maria Corredor in Conversations with Casals. "He has reached the heart of every noble thought, and he has done it in the most perfect way."

Casals's interpretation of the suites, his true testament, came into disfavor after the 1940s when a more historically correct reading of lightness and spontaneity was advanced, in marked contrast to his dramatic renderings. "Almost every movement of the suites, in Casals's hands," William H. Youngren maintained in the Atlantic, "vividly projects the image of a powerful Romantic sensibility engaged in an unceasing, heroic struggle with itself and with the universe." However, in a Strad review of a recent remastering of Casals's performances for compact disc, Tully Potter justified his passionate, ennobling vision: "He builds up great waves of sound and tension, achieving an enormous physical and emotional release towards the end of each one—a Romantic approach, perhaps, but valid here because the player's heart, soul, and sinew are so completely behind every note…. [It is] a spiritual exaltation rare in any performance and still more so on record."

As he approached Bach and music, so did Casals approach life and other people. "The pursuit of music and the love for my neighbors have been inseparable with me, and if the first has brought me the purest and most exalted joys, the second has brought me peace of mind, even in the saddest moments," Casals affirmed to Conversations With Casals's author Corredor. "I am everyday more convinced that the mainspring of any human enterprise must be moral strength and generosity." In 1891, while still in school, Casals came to understand the suffering and inequality of man as he walked among the poor on the streets of Barcelona. He vowed to use his gift from God—his music—for the welfare of his fellow people.

Throughout his career, Casals championed the oppressed and neglected by writing letters and organizing concerts. He refused to perform in countries practicing political tyranny and repression: the Soviet Union in 1917, Germany in 1933, and Italy in 1935. In 1920, for the benefit of the Catalonian people, Casals organized and led the Orquesta Pau Casals, using the Catalonian version of his name. He supported the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, and when Nationalist General Francisco Franco rose to power in 1939, Casals announced he would never return to Spain while Franco was in power. He settled in Prades, France, giving sporadic concerts until 1946 when he renounced the stage altogether. In order to take a stand against dictatorships, Casals vowed never to perform again. As author Kirk put it in Pablo Casals: A Biography, "His withdrawal into silence was the strongest action he felt he could make."

However, in 1950, urged on by friends, Casals resumed conducting and playing, taking part in the Prades Festival organized to celebrate the bicentennial of Bach's death. Though he picked up his cello again, he did not forget his cause—at the end of the festival and every concert he gave after that, Casals played his arrangement of the Catalonian folk ballad "Song of the Birds" as a protest to the continued oppression he saw in Spain.

Casals never returned to Spain. In 1956 he settled in Puerto Rico, his mother's homeland, where he inaugurated the world-famous Casals Festival that spurred artistic and cultural activities on the island, including the founding of a symphony orchestra and a conservatory of music. During the rest of his life, Casals balanced his stand on the issues with his creative impulses. In 1958 he joined his friend, Nobel Prize-winning French philosopher and musicologist Albert Schweitzer, in calling for peace and nuclear disarmament. Casals also spoke and played before the United Nations General Assembly. He appeared before the General Assembly again in 1971, at the age of 95, when he conducted the first performance of his "Hymn of the United Nations."

Though Casals had resumed performing, he refused to play in any country that officially recognized the totalitarian Franco government—as did the United States. Until he died in 1973, Casals did not waver from this position, but for one important exception—in 1961 he performed at the White House at the request of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, a man Casals greatly admired. In Cellist in Exile, Taper quoted Kennedy's introduction of Casals on that day, "The work of all artists—musicians, painters, designers, and architects— stands as a symbol of human freedom, and no one has enriched that freedom more signally than Pablo Casals."

Throughout his life, Casals exalted in the divine presence he found in music and in nature. He also sought to inspire and promote harmony among people, both with his cello and his silence. At his funeral, a recording of "The Song of the Birds" was played. "At that moment," Kirk recounted in Pablo Casals: A Biography. "the noble voice of Pablo Casals's cello commanded pause in the ceremony of the day, a last salutation, eloquent, profound, overwhelming."

Further Reading

Blum, David, Casals and the Art of Interpretation, Holmes &Meier, 1977.

Casals, Pablo, Song of the Birds: Sayings, Stories, and Impressions of Pablo Casals, Robsons Books, 1985.

Casals, Pablo, and Albert E. Kahn, Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals as Told to Albert E. Kahn, Simon & Schuster, 1970.

Corredor, José Maria, Conversations With Casals, Hutchinson, 1956.

Kirk, H. L., Pablo Casals: A Biography, Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1974.

Littlehales, Lillian, Pablo Casals, Greenwood, 1970.

Quintana, Arturo O., Pablo Casals in Puerto Rico, Gordon Press, 1979.

Taper, Bernard, Cellist in Exile: A Portrait of Pablo Casals, McGraw-Hill, 1962.

American Record Guide, July/August 1991; November/December 1991; January/February 1992; March/April 1992.

Américas, July/August 1985.

Atlantic, November 1981.

McCall's, May 1966.

Musical America, July 1991.

New Yorker, April 19, 1969.

Strad, February 1989; September 1990. □

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Casals, Pablo

Pablo Casals

Born: December 29, 1876
Vendrell, Catalonia, Spain
Died: October 23, 1973
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Spanish composer, cellist, and conductor

Pablo Casals was regarded as one of the greatest cello players and composers (writers of music) of the twentieth century. He was also an active protester against oppressive governments (those that misuse their power and mistreat citizens), including that of the Spanish tyrant Francisco Franco (18921975).

Early life

Pablo Casals was born on December 29, 1876, in Vendrell, in the Catalonian region of Spain. He was the second of eleven children of Carlos Casals and Pilar Defillo de Casals. Casals's father, the local church organist, would play the piano while the infant Casals rested his head against it and sang along. By the age of four Casals was playing the piano, and at five he joined the church choir. At six he was composing songs with his father, and by the age of nine he could play the violin and organ. From the age of ten Casals began each day with a walk, taking inspiration from nature. He would then play two Johann Sebastian Bach (16851750) pieces on the piano when he returned home.

Masters the cello

Casals became interested in the cello after seeing the instrument in a music recital at age eleven; soon, his father built him one. His parents argued about his future; his father wanted him to study carpentry, but his mother would not hear of it and enrolled him in the Municipal School of Music in Barcelona, Spain. Casals clashed with his strict instructors, preferring to play the cello in his own, more expressive, manner. His progress was extraordinary, and Casals's new way of playing made the cello a more popular instrument.

Among those impressed by Casals was the Spanish composer Isaac Albéniz (18601909). After hearing Casals play, Albéniz gave him a letter of introduction to Count Guillermo de Morphy, secretary to the Queen Regent of Spain, Maria Cristine. In 1894 Casals traveled to Madrid, Spain, and gave concerts for the queen and her court. Over the next few years his reputation spread as he played with various orchestras in Madrid. With his formal debut as a concert soloist in Paris, France, in 1899, Casals's career was assured.

New respect for Bach's music

Sometime in 1890, while Casals and his father were in a Barcelona bookstore, he found a volume of Bach's six suites (arrangements of music) for solo cello. Previously the suites were considered merely musical exercises, but Casals saw in them something deeper. He studied and practiced the suites every day for a dozen years before performing them publicly; he continued to play at least one suite every day for the rest of his life.

Casals's performance of the suites shocked listeners by correcting the previously held belief that Bach's solo music for strings had no warmth or artistic value. Casals's love of Bach's music carried over into the rest of his life. As he told José Maria Corredor in Conversations With Casals, "I am everyday more convinced that the main-spring of any human enterprise must be moral strength and generosity." Casals came to understand the suffering of the poor as he walked the streets of Barcelona. He vowed to use his music to help his fellow people.

Silenced cello in protest

Casals often wrote letters and organized concerts on behalf of the oppressed, and he refused to perform in countries, such as the Soviet Union, Germany, and Italy, whose governments mistreated their citizens. After the Spanish Civil War (193639), when General Francisco Franco took power, Casals announced he would never return to Spain while Franco was in charge. He settled in Prades, France, and gave occasional concerts until 1946, when, to take a stand against tyrants such as Franco, Casals vowed never to perform again.

However, encouraged by friends, Casals resumed playing in 1950, participating in the Prades Festival organized to honor Bach. At the end of the festival and every concert he gave after that, Casals played "Song of the Birds," a Catalonian folk song, to protest the continued oppression in Spain. In 1956 he settled in Puerto Rico and started the Casals Festival, which led to the creation of a symphony orchestra and a music school on the island. Casals never returned to Spain.

Casals also continued to refuse to perform in countries that officially recognized the Franco government. Until his death in 1973, Casals made only one exceptionin 1961 he performed at the White House for U.S. President John F. Kennedy (19171963), a man he greatly admired. In 1971, at the age of ninety-five, he performed his "Hymn of the United Nations" before the United Nations General Assembly. Casals sought to inspire harmony among people, with both his cello and his silence.

For More Information

Blum, David. Casals and the Art of Interpretation. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1977.

Casals, Pablo. Song of the Birds: Sayings, Stories, and Impressions of Pablo Casals. London: Robson Books, 1985.

Garza, Hedda. Pablo Casals. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1993.

Goodnough, David. Pablo Casals: Cellist for the World. Springfield, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 1997.

Hargrove, Jim. Pablo Casals: Cellist of Conscience. Chicago: Children's Press, 1991.

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Casals, Pablo (Pau)

Pablo (Pau) Casals (pä´blō käsäls´, pou), 1876–1973, Spanish virtuoso cellist and conductor. Casals is considered the greatest 20th-century master of the cello and a distinguished composer, conductor, and pianist. A prodigy, he began his concert career in 1891. In 1905 he formed a chamber trio with Jacques Thibaud (1880–1953) and Alfred Cortot. His career as a conductor began in 1919, when the Orquestra Pau Casals, Barcelona, gave its first concert. Casals gained an international reputation for brilliant expressive technique that remains unsurpassed. His superb interpretations of the Bach unaccompanied cello suites brought him worldwide adulation. In 1939, Casals settled at Prades in S France, a voluntary exile in protest against the Spanish government. In 1950 he began to conduct annual music festivals in Prades. In 1956 he moved to Puerto Rico, where the following year he inaugurated annual music festivals at San Juan. He married his third wife, his student Martita Montañes, in 1957. He performed at the United Nations (1958) and the White House (1961), and conducted a celebrated concert of some 80 cellists at Lincoln Center (1972).

See his memoirs (1970); biography by H. L. Kirk (1974); L. Littlehales, Pablo Casals (rev. ed. 1948).

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Casals, Pablo

Casals, Pablo (Pau, in the Catalan form) (b Vendrell, Catalonia, 1876; d Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, 1973). Sp. cellist, conductor, composer, and pianist. Began career in Barcelona cafés and Paris ths. Prof. of vc., Barcelona Cons. 1897–9. Soloist at Lamoureux Concerts, Paris, and Crystal Palace, London, 1899. First US tour 1901. Thenceforward brilliant career as world's foremost cellist. Formed notable trio with Cortot and Thibaud. Founded Casals Orch., Barcelona 1919. Went into voluntary exile from Sp. 1939 in protest against Franco régime, vowing never to return while Spain was under totalitarian rule (a vow he kept). In 1950 founded Prades Fest. in French Pyrenees. Settled in Puerto Rico, 1956, founding fest. there. Played in United Nations Assembly 1958 and at White House for President Kennedy 1961. In Oct. 1971 cond. his Hymn to the United Nations (Auden) at the U.N. headquarters, NY. Comp. vc. pieces, orch. works, and oratorio El pessebre (The Manger).

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"Casals, Pablo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Casals, Pablo." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/casals-pablo

Casals, Pablo

Casals, Pablo ( Pau) (1876–1973) Spanish (Catalan) cellist and conductor. He formed (1919) his own orchestra in Barcelona and organized the annual Casals Festival in Puerto Rico from 1957. Casal's immaculate tone and intellectual rigour are best heard on Bach's cello suites.

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"Casals, Pablo." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/casals-pablo