Pablo Casals

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Pau Casals i Defilló (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈpaw kəˈzaɫs]) (December 29, 1876 – October 22, 1973), known during his professional career as Pablo Casals,[1][2][3] was a Spanish Catalan cellist and conductor. He made many recordings throughout his career, of solo, chamber, and orchestral music, also as conductor, but Casals is perhaps best remembered for the recording of the Bach Cello Suites he made from 1936 to 1939.



Childhood and early years

Casals was born in El Vendrell, Catalonia. His father, Carlos Casals i Ribes (1852–1908), was a parish organist and choirmaster. He gave Casals instruction in piano, song, violin, and organ. He was also a very strict disciplinarian. When Casals was young his father would pull the piano out from the wall and have him and his brother, Arturo, stand behind it and name the notes and the scales that his father was playing. At age four Casals could play the violin, piano and flute; at the age of six he played the violin well enough to perform a solo in public. His first encounter with a cello-like instrument was from witnessing a local travelling Catalan musician, who played a cello-strung broom handle. Upon request, his father built him a crude cello, using a gourd as a sound-box. When Casals was eleven, he first heard the real cello performed by a group of traveling musicians, and decided to dedicate himself to the instrument.[citation needed]

In 1888 his mother, Pilar Defilló de Casals, who was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico of Catalonian ancestry, took him to Barcelona, where he enrolled in the Escola Municipal de Música.[4] There he studied cello, theory, and piano. In 1890, when he was 13, he discovered in a second-hand sheet music store in Barcelona a tattered copy of Bach's six cello suites. He spent the next 13 years practicing them every day before he would perform them in public for the first time.[5] He made prodigious progress as a cellist; on February 23, 1891 he gave a solo recital in Barcelona at the age of fourteen. He graduated from the Escola with honours five years later.

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