Pablo Casals

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Casals, Pablo (Pau)

Casals, Pablo (Pau) (päˈblō käsälsˈ, pou), 1876–1973, Spanish virtuoso cellist and conductor. Casals is considered the greatest 20th-century master of the cello and a distinguished composer, conductor, and pianist. A prodigy, he began his concert career in 1891. In 1905 he formed a chamber trio with Jacques Thibaud (1880–1953) and Alfred Cortot. His career as a conductor began in 1919, when the Orquestra Pau Casals, Barcelona, gave its first concert. 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. In 1939, Casals settled at Prades in S France, a voluntary exile in protest against the Spanish government. In 1950 he began to conduct annual music festivals in Prades. In 1956 he moved to Puerto Rico, where the following year he inaugurated annual music festivals at San Juan. He married his third wife, his student Martita Montañes, in 1957. He performed at the United Nations (1958) and the White House (1961), and conducted a celebrated concert of some 80 cellists at Lincoln Center (1972).


See his memoirs (1970); biography by H. L. Kirk (1974); L. Littlehales, Pablo Casals (rev. ed. 1948).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Casals, Pablo


Born Dec. 29, 1876, in Vendrell, near Barcelona; died Oct. 22, 1973, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. Spanish cellist, conductor, composer, and public figure. Pupil of J. García (cello) and T. Bretón and J. de Monasterio (composition).

Casals made his debut as a virtuoso soloist in Paris in 1899. In 1901 he began touring with great success in many countries, performing in Russia between 1905 and 1913 both as a soloist and in groups with Rachmaninoff, A. I. Siloti, and A. B. Gol’denveizer. A. K. Glazunov dedicated his Concerto-ballata to Casals.

Casals formed a celebrated trio with A. Cortot and J. Thibaud. He performed in concert for approximately 75 years, and his work spanned an entire epoch in the art of cello interpretation. His playing was profound and rich, blending emotion and reflection; a virtuoso, Casals combined brilliant technique with subtle phrasing. One of his greatest contributions was his modern interpretation of J. S. Bach. Casals’ compositions include symphonic poems, an oratorio, and chamber music for cello ensemble and for cello, violin, and piano.

Casals founded a symphony orchestra in Barcelona in 1920 and a workers’ concert association in 1924, which he headed until 1936. In 1939 he was forced to leave Spain. He settled in Prades (French Pyrenees), where he instituted a festival of chamber music in 1950 (D. F. Oistrakh and other Soviet musicians participated). Casals moved to Puerto Rico and organized the annual Casals Festival there, which has continued after his death. Casals cello competitions have been held since 1957 in various countries (the first was in Paris). Casals was an antifascist and a fighter for peace.


Ginzburg, L. Pablo KazaVs, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.