Casals was born Pau Carlos Salvador Defillo de Casals, born in
Vendrell, Spain, on 29 December 1876. Despite his birthplace and
subsequent stay for a time in France, his mother was from Puerto
Rico; the country where he returned for a good portion of his
life and where he died in 1973.
is considered the greatest 20th-century master of the cello and
a distinguished composer, conductor, pianist and humanitarian.
He revolutionized the role of the cello by the virtuosity of his
technique and his indisputable musicality. 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 such as this example of the Gigue
from Cello Suite number 1 (BWV 1007).
received his first musical instruction from his father but his
mother was equally commited and involved in the young Casals'
music training. She arranged various scholarships that were crucial
to developing his nascent talent. One of the scholarships was
at the Madrid Conservatory where he studied between 1893 and 1896,
and another at the Brussels Conservatory in 1896, considered the
among best institutions for training in stringed instruments.
making his debut as a cello soloist at the Concerts Lamoureux
in Paris in 1898, he toured Europe, the United States, and South
1905 he formed a chamber trio with Jacques Thibaud (1880-1953)
and Alfred Cortot. The trio performed to international acclaim
with interpretations that are models for study.
1919 he began his career as a conductor; founding the Orquesta
Pau Casals in Barcelona (1920), which, with Casals as conductor,
became an important cultural organization in Catalonia until 1936,
when the Spanish Civil War interrupted its activities.