"Music, this marvellous universal language, would have to be a source of communication between all people."
Pau Casals (Pablo Casals as he was commonly called in English) was one of the 20th century's greatest cellists, internationally recognized as one of the finest performers and orchestra conductors of his times.
Born in El Vendrell on 29 December 1876, he showed a great sensitivity for music from childhood. His father, himself a musician, taught Pau his first notions of music, which Casals would go on to extend through studies in Barcelona and Madrid. At the tender age of twenty-three, he started out on his professional career and performed in the world's most famous concert halls. As a performer, he made innovative changes in the way of playing the cello, introducing new technical and expressive possibilities. As a conductor too, he sought depth of expression - the musical essence which he achieved with the cello. Pau Casals was also a teacher and a composer, writing works such as the oratorio "El Pessebre" (The Manger), which became a veritable hymn to peace.
The outcome of the Spanish Civil War obliged him to go into exile, settling first in Prades (France) and later in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In addition to his extraordinary career as a musician, Pau Casals was always a staunch defender of peace and freedom. His numerous benefit concerts, his commitment to humanitarian actions and his various speeches at the United Nations characterized him clearly as a man of peace.
Pau Casals died in 1973 at the age of ninety-six in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His remains now rest in the cemetery of El Vendrell.
1876 Pau Casals is born on 29th December at Carrer de Santa Anna, no. 2, in El Vendrell.
1882 On 27th April he gives his first musical performance in the choir of the church of El Vendrell.
His father, Carles Casals Riba, begins to give him music and piano lessons
1883 Casals collaborates with his father on the composition of a score for a version of the "Pastorets", a traditional Catalan Nativity play, entitled “Los Pastorcillos en Belén” (The Little Shepherds in Bethlehem).
1885 His father and the barber Peret make Casals a "carabasseta" or gourd-fiddle, considered his first stringed instrument.
Casals begins to play the organ of the church of El Vendrell
1888 A chamber music trio, with Josep Garcia at the cello, plays at the Catholic Centre of El Vendrell. This is the first time that Pau Casals sees and hears a cello.
At the end of the summer, Casals travels to Barcelona with his mother and begins his studies at the Municipal Music School.
Pau's father, Carles Casals, purchases a 3/4 cello for him
1889 Casals begin to play at Barcelona's Cafè Tost, three hours each night, seven days a week, for 4 pesetas.
1890 He is introduced into Barcelona's musical and cultural spheres by Mr. Tost, the proprietor of Cafè Tost.
1890 He is introduced into Barcelona's musical and cultural spheres by Mr. Tost, the proprietor of Cafè Tost.
Casals discovers Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Suites at Carrer Ample in Barcelona.
His father, Carles Casals, purchases a full-size cello for him.
1891 On 23rd February, Casals takes part in a benefit concert for the comic actress Concepció Palà at Barcelona's Teatro Novedades.
He meets the musical trio formed by Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Fernández Arbós and Agustín Rubio.
Isaac Albéniz writes a letter of recommendation for Pau Casals to the Count de Morphy, secretary of the Queen regent of Spain, Maria Christina.
Casals starts to work at La Pajarera, a café at Barcelona's Plaça de Catalunya, where he plays every night, forming a trio with Ibarguren and Armengol.
During this year he meets the composer Enric Granados, with whom he establishes a lasting friendship.
1893 In the spring Casals graduates with honours from the Municipal Music School of Barcelona.
He travels to Madrid with his mother and brothers. Queen Maria Christina awards him a grant for a monthly sum of 250 pesetas.
Casals starts his second stage of musical training in Madrid, beginning classes at the Conservatory of Music and Declamation, under Jesús de Monasterio as professor of chamber music.
1895 On 14th February, Casals is named Knight of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic.
He travels to Brussels, with a letter of recommendation to François Gevaërt, director of the Conservatory of Music there. After taking the admission tests under Edouard Jacobs, Pau Casals decides not to attend the conservatory and travels to Paris.
Queen Maria Christina withdraws Casals' grant.
After a time of hardship in Paris, Casals decides to return to Barcelona
|Pau Casals & Enric Granados|
Casals begins to give concerts in small musical societies such as the Athenaeums of Barcelona and Gràcia, respectively.
He becomes a cellist of the Orchestra of the Gran Teatre del Liceu.
In Barcelona he comes into contact with Isaac Albéniz, Agustín Rubio, Enrique Fernández Arbós, Enric Granados and Saint-Saëns.
1897 Formation of the Quartet Crickboom with Pau Casals as cellist, Mathieu Crickboom and Josep Rocabruna as violinists and Rafael Gálvez at the viola.
Casals makes a tour of Spain with Enric Granados and Mathieu Crickboom.
Queen Maria Christina gives him a blue sapphire and a new cello, a Gagliano
1899 Pau Casals travels to Paris and accommodates himself at the home of the U.S. singer Emma Nevada and her husband, Raymond Palmer.
In May he travels to London with Emma Nevada and the pianist Léon Moreau.
On 20th May, Casals makes his London debut at the Crystal Palace with Lalo's “Concerto in D minor” and on 20th August he gives a private concert for Queen Victoria of England at the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.
Casals returns to Paris, where he debuts with the great French conductor Charles Lamoureux:
- On 12th November, at the Théatre de la République in Paris, he gives his first performance as a soloist, playing Lalo's cello concerto.
- On 17th December he makes his second appearance with the Orchestre Lamoureux, playing Saint-Saëns' Concerto.
1900 Casals settles in Paris and begins his great career as a soloist.
He starts to introduce himself into the social, musical and cultural network of turn-of-the-century Paris.
Pau Casals and the pianist Harold Bauer begin to perform together at the beginning of the summer. They give concerts in San Sebastián and at the Teatro de la Comedia in Madrid, among other places.
1901 In November, aboard the Saint Paul, Casals travels to the United States for the first time in order to make a tour with the singer Emma Nevada, the pianist Léon Moreau and the flautist Daniel Marquarre.
On his stay in San Francisco, Casals injures his left hand on an outing to Mount Tamalpais, obliging him to abandon the tour. In the ensuing months he is accommodated in the home of Michael Stein, establishing a lasting friendship with Stein's offspring, Gertrude and Leo Stein.
Queen Maria Christina grants Casals the Great Cross of Knighthood of the Royal Order of Charles III.
1903 On 3rd May, Casals begins a tour of South America with Harold Bauer and Moreira de Sá.
1904 Casals makes his second trip to the United States, this time as a soloist.
On 12th January he gives his first performance at New York's New Lyceum Theatre, playing Haydn's Concerto in D minor with the American Symphony Orchestra.
On 15th January, president Theodore Roosevelt invites Casals to play at the White House.
On 9th March, he debuts at New York's Carnegie Hall, performing Richard Strauss's Don Quixote.
Casals returns to Paris at the end of the year and settles at Villa Molitor.
|From right to left: Pau Casals, Vera Pavlova, Oskanne Alexandra |
Silloti and Anastasia Serguels. In front Alexandra Khoklohlova
(russian actress) and Guilhermina Suggia (his first wife)
1905 He begins a sentimental relationship with the Portuguese cellist Guilhermina Suggia.
Creation of the Trio Cortot-Thibaud-Casals, formed by Jacques Thibaud as violinist, Alfred Cortot as pianist and Pau Casals as cellist.
In November he makes his first trip to Russia, to perform in a concert on the 18th in Saint Petersburg's Hall of Nobility, establishing his first contacts with Moscow’s musical circles.
1906 On 18th December the Trio Cortot-Thibaud-Casals makes its debut in a concert in Lille. It becomes one of the foremost musical trios of the times..
1908 In the autumn, death of Pau Casals' father, Carles Casals Riba.
1909 On 20th October, Casals is invited by Edward Speyer to play at Bechstein Hall for the Classical Concert Society of London.
From this time on, Casals travels to England to perform each year.
1910 In November Pau Casals makes his Vienna debut, interpreting Emanuel Moór's Concerto in C sharp minor at the Great Hall of the Musikverein, with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Franz Schalk..
1912 In January, together with Eugene Ysaÿe, Casals plays Brahms's Double Concerto in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and on 20th February at the Great Hall of Vienna's Musikverein.
In February Casals plays Beethoven's Triple Concerto in Budapest with Donald Francis Tovey and Georges Enesco.
At the end of the year, Pau Casals ends his relationship with Guilhermina Suggia.
1914 In March Casals embarks for New York.
On 4th April he marries the U.S. soprano Susan Metcalfe in New Rochelle, New York, and together they begin a tour across the United States.
On 13th December Casals gives his first concert at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, where he plays Saint-Saëns' Concerto and Bruch's Kol Nidrei with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra under conductor Richard Hageman.
1915 At the beginning of the year, Casals makes his first recordings for the Columbia Gramophone Company.
1916 In May he organizes a benefit concert at the Metropolitan Opera House for the children of his friend Enric Granados, together with Paderewski and Fritz Kreisler.
1917 In October, after the Revolution, Casals decides not to play in Russia again
1919 On 10th January, Casals performs in Mexico City with its Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Josep Rocabruna. He begins a three-week tour of Mexico.
Shortly afterwards he returns to Barcelona, settling at Avinguda de la Diagonal, no. 440.
In June, together with his brother Enric, Pau Casals begins the project of creating the Orquestra Pau Casals, with Enric Casals as first violinist, Enric Ainaud as adjunct first violinist and Bonaventura Dini as first cellist.
On 13th October the first concert of the Orquestra Pau Casals is held at the Palau de la Música Catalana.
1922 On 7th April, Casals debuts as conductor at New York's Carnegie Hall.
1926 In May he creates the Workers Concerts Association, an independent organization with the ultimate goal of bringing music closer to the working class.
1927 In March Casals gives a series of concerts in Vienna on the occasion of Beethoven's centennial.
On 19 April, on the centennial of Beethoven's death, Eugene Ysaÿe conducts this composer's Eroica Symphony and Triple Concerto in Barcelona, with Thibaud, Cortot and Pau Casals.
El Vendrell makes Casals a Predilect Son of the town.
1928 On 26th February, Casals gives his last concert as a soloist in the United States, at the Town Hall of New York, with Nicolai Mednikoff at the piano.
Pau Casals' relationship with Susan Metcalfe grows colder and they finally separate.1931Pau Casals' mother, Pilar Defilló, dies at Sant Salvador on 11th March.
The Second Republic is proclaimed in Spain on 15th April.
At Barcelona's National Palace of Montjuïc, Casals conducts Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Orquestra Pau Casals and the Orfeó Gracienc, to celebrate the proclamation of the Republic.
1933 He gives his last concerts with Jacques Thibaud and Alfred Cortot, bringing to an end an association that had lasted twenty-seven years.
Casals take part in the Brahms Festival of Vienna with Huberman, Schnabel and Hindemith.
He declines Wilhelm Furtwängler's invitation to play with the Berlin Philharmonic in the season of 1933. In a letter to Bronislaw Huberman, Pau Casals states his decision not to play again in Germany "for as long as its musical life is not free".
1934 Together with Albert Schweitzer, he is made Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Edinburgh.
Barcelona pays tribute to Casals, making him an Adoptive Son, awarding him the Medal of the City, and inaugurating the avenue called Avinguda de Pau Casals.
1936 On 28th June, the Orquestra Pau Casals finishes its last season.
On 18th July, during a rehearsal with the Orquestra Pau Casals at the Palau de la Música Catalana, the military uprising begins in Spain.
Despite the situation of instability in Spain and the imminent outbreak of the Civil War, Pau Casals continues to make tours in Europe and South America and to give benefit concerts to raise funds for food, clothing and medicine.
Between 1936 and 1939, Pau Casals records Johann Sebastian Bach's Six Suites for Solo Cello for the EMI label.1938In February he begins a tour of North Africa.
On 19th October 1938, Pau Casals gives his last concert in Spain, at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, on behalf of the Children's Aid Society.
1939 At the end of January, after the occupation of Barcelona by General Franco's troops, Pau Casals goes into exile.
The University of Barcelona makes him Doctor Honoris Causa.
On 28th March, Casals gives a benefit concert for the Spanish refugee children at the Royal Albert Hall, with the London Symphony Orchestra.
After a short stay in Paris at the home of Maurice Eisenberg, Casals goes to the Catalan town of Prades and takes up residence in a room of the Grand Hotel, from where he will begin his campaign of aid for the Spanish refugees, together with his friend, the poet Joan Alavedra.
1940 German forces enter Paris on 13th June. Pau Casals, Francesca Capdevila, Pilar Casals and the Alavedra family decide to leave France via Bordeaux aboard the Champlain, sailing for the United States.
Just when the passengers are about to board, the Champlain is bombed by German aircraft and the group decides to return to Prades, where Pau Casals settles with Francesca Capdevila and the Alavedras in Villa Colette.
1943 The poem “El Pessebre” (The Manger) by the Catalan poet Joan Alavedra wins First Prize in the first Floral Games of the Catalan Language in Exile, held in Perpignan. Pau Casals begins to set it to music.
1945 World War II having ended, on 27th June Pau Casals gives a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Adrian Boult. At the end of the concert, Pau Casals sends a message to Catalonia from the BBC studios. After a week of concerts in England, Casals decides not to play again in this country in protest against the Allied countries' immobility with respect to General Franco's regime.
He turns down Doctorates Honoris Causa from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
1946 On 7th November, Casals is appointed Grand Officer of the French Legion of Honour.
He decides not play again in public as long as the democracies do not change their attitude with respect to the Franco regime, and his second exile in Prades begins. In the next four years he devotes himself to composing, to giving cello lessons and, above all, to helping the Catalan and Spanish refugees.
1950 In May, Casals presides over the Floral Games of the Catalan Language in Exile, held in Perpignan.
At the initiative of Alexander Schneider, on 2nd June begins the first Prades Festival, the Bach Festival, in commemoration of the bicentennial of the great composer's death.
1951 July marks the holding of the second Prades Festival at the Palace of the Kings of Majorca in Perpignan, featuring the pianist Myra Hess. Marta Montañez attends the festival for the first time.
Casals conducts two of his own compositions in Zurich in September: “Sardana for Cellos” and “Els tres reis” (The Three Kings).
1952 He takes part for the first time in the Zermatt Summer Academy of Music. Between this time and 1966, he will hold master classes in interpretation here each year.
1954 From 7th to 23rd June, the 4th Prades Festival takes place, focused on Beethoven's chamber music, with the participation of Pau Casals, Eugene Istomin, Rudolf Serkin, Mieczyslaw Horszowski, Szymon Goldberg, Joseph Fuchs and the Trio Pasquier.
In September, Marta Montañez comes to Prades to take interpretation classes with Pau Casals.
1955 Francesca Capdevila dies on 18th January.
|Pau & Marta|
On 11th December Casals makes his first trip to his mother's birthplace, Puerto Rico, accompanied by Marta Montañez. At he initiative of Abe Fortas and the governor Luis Muñoz Marín, the Casals Festivals are created with Pau Casals as musical director and Alexander Schneider as musical assistant.
At the end of November, Casals returns to Puerto Rico, accompanied by Marta Montañez, his brother Enric and the latter's wife. He settles in a house at Calle Bucaré in the Santurce district of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
1957 On 16th April Casals suffers a heart attack at the Theatre of the University of Puerto Rico during a rehearsal with the Festival Orchestra.
The festival management decides to hold the first Casals Festival of Puerto Rico in tribute to Pau Casals himself, under the direction of Alexander Schneider.
In parallel to the Casals Festival, the Symphony Orchestra of Puerto Rico and the Music Conservatory are created. Pau Casals is appointed president of the latter.
On 3rd August, Pau Casals and Marta Montañez marry in San Juan, Puerto Rico
|Pau Casals & Dag Hammarskjöld|
This year he is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
1960 In the spring he holds a series of master classes at the Music Department of the University of California at Berkeley.
In July he is invited by his friend the pianist Rudolf Serkin to direct a series of master classes at the Marlboro Summer School of Music, in southern Vermont, U.S.A. This becomes an annual event for him from 1962 to 1973.
On 17th December 1960, he premieres the oratorio “El Pessebre” at the Fuerte de San Diego in Acapulco. 1961In April he makes a three-week visit to Japan, where he gives a concert with his pupil Takeichiro Hirai.
In September he visits Israel for the first time, to participate as a member of the jury of the 3rd Pau Casals International Cello Competition and to take part in the 3rd Israel Music Festival.
On 13th November he is invited by John Fitzgerald Kennedy to give a concert at the White House.
1962 On 19th April, at the concert of the oratorio “El Pessebre” held at San Francisco's Memorial Opera House, Pau Casals announces his intention to embark on a personal crusade for human dignity, brotherhood and peace.
Over the next ten years, Casals will conduct “El Pessebre” round the world. Indeed, this will be the foremost musical activity of his latter years.
1963 On 24th October, “El Pessebre” is performed at the United Nations headquarters in New York, with the Casals Festival Orchestra and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus.
The president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, awards Casals the Medal of Freedom.
1965 On 15th April, Casals conducts “El Pessebre” at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, in Pittsburgh, U.S.A., likewise conducting Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concertos during this month.
|Pau Casals & US vice president|
1966 In September Pau Casals conducts “El Pessebre” at Sant Miquel de Cuixà.
In December, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, Pau Casals receives numerous public tributes, notably including the one from the Catalans in Molig, where the group Nens del Vendrell forms a “castell” or human tower, and the one in Puerto Rico with a reception at the courtyard of La Fortaleza attended by the vice president of the United States, Hubert Humphrey.
|Pau Casals & US President Johnson|
At the beginning of November, Casals conducts “El Pessebre” in the Central American city of San Salvador.
1971 Casals receives the Grand Cross of the French National Order of Merit.
He composes the Hymn to the United Nations.
|Pau Casals awarded at UN by U-Thant|
1972 On 3rd July Pau Casals and his wife Marta create the Pau Casals Foundation for the purpose of bequeathing to Catalonia the splendid legacy kept by the Maestro at the house in Sant Salvador, El Vendrell.
1973 In June he attends the Casals Festival held at New York's Carnegie Hall and in Central Park.
From 16th July to 26th August, he takes part in the 13th Israel Music Festival, where he gives his last concert.
At the end of September, Pau Casals suffers an irreversible heart attack in Puerto Rico.
On 22nd October, Pau Casals dies at Hospital de Auxilio Mútuo in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A few days later he is buried at that city's Commemorative Cemetery.
1979 On 9th November the remains of Pau Casals are transferred to Catalonia, where they now rest in the cemetery of El Vendrell.
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