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Pablo Casals

Pablo Casals

(1876–1973), Spain. Cellist



Pablo 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.

Casals 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).

He 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.

After making his debut as a cello soloist at the Concerts Lamoureux in Paris in 1898, he toured Europe, the United States, and South America.

In 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.

In 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.

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