Centre for the Study of Hispanic Exile

Pau Casals [1876–1973]

Date of Birth: 29 Dec 1876 El Vendrell (Tarragona)
Died: 22 Oct 1973 San Juan de Puerto Rico (age 96)

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1888 El Vendrell
Attended a performance of a trio in El Vendrell, where he discovered his vocation for music. One of the performers, José García i Jacot, later became his cello tutor in Barcelona
1888 Barcelona
Entered the Escola Municipal de Música de Barcelona, under José García i Jacot
1890 Barcelona
In a secondhand bookshop he discovered the yet unearthed Suites for Solo Cello by Johan Sebastian Bach, which he would first perform 12 years later
1893 Madrid
Finished his studies at the Escola Municipal de Música. Then went to Madrid, where he managed to obtain a stipend from the Queen through the mediation of Count Morphy, a protector of the arts
1893 Madrid
Entered the music conservatoire, where he studied chamber music with Jesús de Monasterio and composition with Tomás Bretón. Casals was assisted in his general education by Count Morphy and the Queen
1895 Madrid
Finished his studies at the Conservatoire, and was awarded the Cruz de Isabel la Católica by the Queen
1895 Paris
After a disappointing visit to the Brussels conservatoire, he went to Paris. As Count Morphy withdrew his pension in disagreement, Casals joined the orchestra of the Folies-Marigny music-hall
1896 Barcelona
After a period of illness, Casals returned to Barcelona. He was appointed professor of cello at the Escola Municipal de Música. Soon his reputation grew. He played frequently in concerts with Granados and the Belgian violinist Mathieu Crickboom, later forming the Cuarteto Crickboom together with José Rocabruna and Rafael Gálvez
1897 Madrid
Performed in Madrid at the Royal Palace and before a wider audience, but achieved little success.
1899 Paris
Signed a contract with the Orchestre Lamoureux, with which he would perform both in groups and as a soloist. His reputation soon grew and his performances received extensive press coverage. He settled in Neuilly, where he frequently received artists and intellectuals
1901 USA
Began touring the USA annually
1904 Paris
Formed the trio Casals-Cortot-Thibaud, one of the most prestigious and active chamber groups for the following three decades
1905 Russia
Began a series of annual tours through Russia
1914 New York
Married singer Susan Metcalfe, whom he he would divorce in 1920
1914 New York
Following the outbreak of the war, Casals fled Paris and spent long periods in New York
1919 Barcelona
Settled in Barcelona
1920 Barcelona
Founded the orchestra Pau Casals, which he would fund himself for the following seven years. It became a key cultural institution of Barcelona until the Civil War
1931 Barcelona
Appointed president of the Music Committee of the Generalitat
1939 Prades
Following the outbreak of the Civil War, went to France and settled in the southern village of Prades. He gave recitals in Paris to raise money to help the Spanish refugees
1945 London
Invited by the BBC to give a recital and broadcast a message to Catalonia, he performed El cant dels ocells, a symbol of Catalonia's oppression ever since. That was his last performance in Britain, as he refused to accept any honours and privileges from countries whose governments had recognised the Franco dictatorship in Spain. He consequently rejected a degree of Honorary Doctor awarded to him by the University of Oxford
1946 France awarded him the Légion d'Honneur for his committed behaviour during the Second World War
1950 Prades
On the occasion of the bicentenary of Bach, Casals organised the first music festival at Prades. As musicians from around the world were invited, the festival became a symbol of international solidarity against the Franco regime. It was the first edition of a series which Casals himself would organise until 1966
1955 El Vendrell
Married Frasquita Vidal who would soon die. The funeral provided the occasion for his last visit to El Vendrell
1957 Puerto Rico
Married cellist Marta Montañez in Puerto Rico
1957–1973 His activity was very intense during his last years. He gave recitals, taught and conducted
1960 Acapulco
World premiere of El Pessebre, his oratorio for peace. The choice of Mexico was a way to acknowledge gratitude for the reception of Spanish exiles
1961 Awarded the Medal of Peace by the United Nations
1973 San Juan/Puerto Rico
At the end of September, he suffers an irreversible heart attack. On 22nd October, he dies, aged 96, at Hospital de Auxilio Mútuo in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A few days later he is buried in the city's Commemorative Cemetery
1979 El Vendrell
Following his wishes, his remains were taken to El Vendrell after the restoration of democracy
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