Casals Pablo

"Music, whose marvelous and universal language is understood by everyone, should be a source of connection between people," said Casals. - I once again call on my fellow musicians around the world to put their art at the service of humanity, contributing to the unification of peoples"


Pablo Casals (full name Pau Carles Salvador Casals i Defilló; 29 December 1876, Vendrell, Tarragona Province, Spain - 22 October 1973, San Juan, Puerto Rico) was a Spanish Catalonian cellist, conductor, composer, and public character.

Pablo Casals received his first music lessons from his father, an organist and teacher. As the musician later recalled, he learnt to sing before he learnt to speak. At the age of five, the boy was already singing in the church choir and learning to play the violin, organ and piano.
At seven, he could transpose any musical piece. By the age of eight, he was performing as a violinist and even substituted for his father as organist. Pablo received his basic education in a village school. His father believed that music would give too modest livelihood and it was necessary to practise a trade in parallel. When Pablo was twelve years old, his mother travelled with him to Barcelona, where the young man entered the Music School. In addition to the cello class, Pablo studied harmony and counterpoint. In 1888 he began cello lessons with J. Garcia at the Barcelona Municipal Conservatory and continued his studies (as a composer as well) in Madrid, Brussels and Paris. In 1897 Pablo Casals succeeded J. Garcia as professor of cello at the Municipal Conservatory. In 1899 the famous Parisian conductor Charles Lamoureux introduced the promising Spanish virtuoso to the public, and so the journey of Casals as a soloist began. Pablo made his first concert tours in Spain as part of a quartet with Belgian Mathieu Crickboom as first violinist. Thus Casals travelled to Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia and Portugal. In 1898 in Madrid, the musician received an invitation from the Queen to perform in the palace. After the concert, she presented Pablo with a magnificent bracelet with an emerald and a cello by Galliano.

In the early 1900s Casals toured extensively in Europe and the USA, and his technical mastery and artistic temperament were universally recognized. He performed several times in Russia as a soloist and in ensembles with S. Rachmaninoff, A. Siloti and A. Goldenweiser. In 1904 Casals, together with pianist Alfred Cortot and violinist Jacques Thibaud, formed a trio that quickly became popular.

During the First World War, Casals lived in Paris, but in 1920 he moved to Barcelona, where he organized his own symphony orchestra and conducted it. Prominent performers from all over the world came to the Catalan capital to play alongside Casals, or to be accompanied by his orchestra.

For more than 70 years, Pablo Casals was an active professional: he performed in many countries, taught in Paris and Barcelona, gave master classes, composed, conducted, played in ensembles with famous musicians, organized music festivals, competitions and Sunday concerts for workers. Pablo Casals is also credited with the establishment of a music school, a music magazine and the first symphony orchestra in Barcelona. All these educational endeavors ceased to exist after the fascist rebellion in Spain (1936). A patriot and anti-fascist, Casals actively supported the Republicans during the war. After the fall of the Spanish Republic (1939), the musician emigrated and settled in the south of France, in Prades. From 1956 he lived in San Juan (Puerto Rico), where he established a symphony orchestra (1959) and founded a conservatory (1960).

Pablo Casals had a tremendous capacity as a concert musician, playing up to 250 concerts a year. Nevertheless, Casals as a matter of principle did not give concerts in countries where military regimes were established. Even the year of the 200th anniversary of Bach's death was no exception. Casals proved himself to be an active campaigner for peace. He is the author of the oratorio "Crib" ("El pesebre", 1943; first performed in 1960), the main idea of which is embodied in the final words: "Peace to all people of goodwill!" At the request of U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Casals composed the "Hymn to Peace" (3-part work), which was performed under his baton at a gala concert at the United Nations in 1971.

The musician was awarded the UN Peace Medal and wrote several symphonic, choral and chamber instrumental works, as well as pieces for solo cello and cello ensemble. He continued to play, conduct and teach for the rest of his life. An active fighter for peace and truth (and not only in music), Pablo Casals was a man of high moral values, which he promoted and believed in.

Casals died in 1973 (aged 96) and was buried in Puerto Rico, but was later reburied in his native Catalonia. He is commemorated with a Festival in Puerto Rico, cello competitions in Paris and Budapest, and a statue on Mount Montserrat in Catalonia.