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Birthday Of The Great Catalan Cellist Pablo Casals

 December 29 is the birthday of one of the towering classical musicians of the 20th century ,Pablo Casals (1876-1973 ) ,who was born in a village in Catalonia with the Catalan name Pau ,and achieved world fame as possibly the greatest cellist of all time , in addition to his activities as a composer, conductor, teacher ,Catalan patriot and humanitarian .

  Casals was the first cellist to become internationally famous; there had been some well-known ones previously, but none achieved anything remotely close to his renown .  He discovered the six suites for unaccompanied cello by Bach by chance in a music store as a young man; they had been forgotten since the early 18th century , and made the first integral recording of them ,after which they became part of the repertoire of cellists everywhere ; these are still available on CD ,as well as in recordings by many other eminent cellists .

  Casals also made recordings of the great cello concertos of Elgar, Dvorak, Schumann and other composers which have become benchmarks of the recorded repertoire, as well as the five piano sonatas of Beethoven ,and many other works for cello.  He collaborated with virtually all the great conductors opf his time such as George Szell, Sir John Barbirolli etc, and was a chamber mnusic partner with such great names as violinists Jacques Thibaud, Isaac Stern,  pianists Rudolf Serkin and Mieczyslaw Horszowski ,and appeared at the White house to perform during the Kennedy Presidency.

  He was closely associated with such great music festivals as Prades in southern France and the Marlboro festival in New England , and taught many cellists who went on to international renown, as well as making recordings as a conductor of symphonies by Beethoven and Schubert etc.

  Casals lived well into his 90s and although his physical strength may have declined somewhat, he remained active as a cellist .  He was a staunch opponent of Franco's tyrannical regime and passionate supporter of Catalan culture and indepepndence , and when he died in 1973, he was one of the most revered people on earth . 

Posted: Dec 29 2010, 11:10 AM by the horn | with no comments
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