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PABLO CASALS

The legendary Pau (or Pablo) Casals was born on 29th December 1876 in Vendrell, a little town in Catalonia where his father was organist and choirmaster. I owe nearly all my talent at music to the influence of my father, he wrote. As soon as I could walk he took me to all the services at the church, so that the Gregorian chant, the chorales and the organ voluntaries became part of myself and of my daily life. Carlos Casals taught Pau to sing, play the piano and organ and even compose; at six the boy had mastered the violin well enough to play a solo in public. At eleven his father bought him a small cello and gave him lessons; and soon he began studying at the Municipal School of Music in Barcelona.

Cello playing had not greatly advanced since the days of Luigi Boccherini. The invention of the spike or endpin had freed the body of the instrument from being gripped between the knees, so that it resonated more freely; but some players were still operating in the old way, without a spike. Worst of all, the bowing arm was restricted. We were taught to play with a stiff arm and obliged to keep a book under the armpit, recalled Casals.

While playing in a caf trio to pay for his keep, he was heard by the composer Albniz. Soon he had an ensemble of seven at a grander caf and it was while he and his father were looking for music for this band to play that he found an edition of the Bach solo Suites. He met Sarasate and with Albnizs help moved to Madrid, found a patron and became Queen Maria Cristinas favourite musician, studying at the Conservatory with Tomas Bretn and Jess de Monasterio. He made his Madrid orchestral dbut with the Lalo Concerto and in 1899 played it at the Crystal Palace in London and the Lamoureux Concerts in Paris. In 1901 he toured America and in 1905 he settled in Paris.

In public he was quickly recognised as unique. Fritz Kreisler was making an impact with his subtle use of vibrato on the violin and Casals worked on similar lines with the cello, astonishing his peers with the freedom of his bowing, his use of expressive intonation and his technical innovations. After studying the Bach Suites for a dozen years, he started performing them in public in the early years of the twentieth century, often programming one alongside a concerto. In 1905 he began playing trios with Alfred Cortot and Jacques Thibaud their ensemble would last until 1934.

For more than three decades Casals toured the world as the leading exponent of the cello. In 1919 he returned to Catalonia and in 1931 he conducted his Orquesta Pau Casals in Beethovens Ninth Symphony in Barcelona, to mark the birth of the Spanish Republic. But the civil war and the Fascist victory caused a rift in his life and career. A humanitarian of deep principle who refused to play in Hitlers Germany, Casals was implacably opposed to Francos rgime and in 1939 threatened with execution if he returned to Spain he went into exile in southern France. After World War II, feeling that Britain and America were appeasing Franco, he abruptly stopped playing in public breaking off a London recording session with Haydns D major Concerto two-thirds done. But from 1950 American admirers organized a festival around him at his new home town, Prades, and in his old age Casals had a new lease of life as chamber musician, teacher, conductor and musical guru. In 1956 he moved to his mothers native country, Puerto Rico, and the following year he wed his young pupil Marta Montaez. He played in 1958 at the United Nations and in 1961 at the White House. He died in Puerto Rico on 22nd October 1973.


Albums featuring this artist are available for download from ClassicsOnline.com
View by Role: Classical Artist | Classical Composer | Arranger | Conductor
Role: Classical Artist 
Album Title
Catalogue No  Work Category 
BACH, J.S.: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6 (Casals) (1927-1939) Naxos Historical
8.110915-16
Instrumental, Chamber Music, Instrumental, Chamber Music
BEETHOVEN / BRAHMS: Cello Sonatas (Casals) (1930-1939) Naxos Historical
8.110949-50
Chamber Music
BEETHOVEN: Archduke Trio (Thibaud / Casals / Cortot) (1926-1927) Naxos Historical
8.110195
Chamber Music
BOCCHERINI / HAYDN / ELGAR: Cello Concertos (Casals) (1938, 1945) Naxos Historical
8.110305
Orchestral, Concertos
CASALS, Pablo: Encores and Transcriptions, Vol. 1 (1925-1928) Naxos Historical
8.110972
Chamber Music
CASALS, Pablo: Encores and Transcriptions, Vol. 2 (1927-1930) Naxos Historical
8.110976
Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music
CASALS, Pablo: Encores and Transcriptions, Vol. 3: Complete Acoustic Recordings, Part 1 (1915-1916) Naxos Historical
8.110985
Orchestral, Chamber Music, Orchestral, Instrumental, Orchestral, Concertos, Chamber Music, Orchestral, Chamber Music, Orchestral
CASALS, Pablo: Encores and Transcriptions, Vol. 4: Complete Acoustic Recordings, Part 2 (1916-1920) Naxos Historical
8.110986
Orchestral, Chamber Music, Orchestral, Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music, Orchestral, Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music, Orchestral, Chamber Music
CASALS, Pablo: Encores and Transcriptions, Vol. 5: Complete Acoustic Recordings, Part 3 (1920-1924) Naxos Historical
8.110987
Chamber Music, Orchestral, Instrumental, Chamber Music, Instrumental, Chamber Music, Instrumental, Chamber Music, Concertos, Chamber Music, Instrumental, Chamber Music
DVORAK, A.: Cello Concerto / BRAHMS, J.: Double Concerto (Casals, Thibaud) (1929, 1937) Naxos Historical
8.110930
Concertos
GREAT VIOLINISTS Naxos Historical
8.110980-81
Chamber Music
HAYDN / BEETHOVEN / SCHUBERT: Piano Trios (Thibaud / Cortot / Casals) (1926-1927) Naxos Historical
8.110188
Chamber Music
MENDELSSOHN / SCHUMANN: Trios (Thibaud / Casals / Cortot) (1927-1928) Naxos Historical
8.110185
Chamber Music

Role: Classical Composer 
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Role: Arranger 
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3:49:24 PM, 25 July 2014
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