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Casals Castles
  I forget which record company it was but toward the end of the 20th century they came out with something like a 10 record box set called, "Pablo Casals - The Musician of the Century". Could you imagine being picked out as THE musician of a century? What an honor.

I suppose they could have picked Jimi Hendrix, or Elvis, or better yet John Coltrane or Charlie Parker. Other picks could have been Miles Davis, Jascha Heifitz, or Leonard Bernstein. The list goes on and on, so how do you pick one?

I think they picked Casals because of two things. One is the way he revolutionized the cello. He was the man most responsible for bringing this instrument to the fore. He was the first cello soloist who could really rival the great violinists. He traveled the world for years on trains and planes spreading his new concept. And it wasn't just how well he played, but the emotion that came through his instrument. There is not another musician in our time who could grab your heart and twist it the way he could. He had a very powerful soul and he could reach you with music as if it were a lazar beam.

The other reason I think they picked him is his mensch-like qualities. He was very vocal about his opposition to the Axis powers in WW II, particularly Franco, who took over Spain. Casals actually risked his life by being so outspoken, but he would not stop. Then after the war he boycotted any country that recognized Spain under Franco, which meant that the most famous cellist in the world basically stopped performing. In fact, he never played in the United States again. He did, however. play at the U.N. when he was in his nineties, because the U.N. is technically not part of the United States. He remained virtually unheard of for decades until some younger classical soloists went to see him and got him to agree to host a music festival where he lived in Prades. He later held festivals in Puerto Rico. It is the recordings from these festivals that I have been checking out again. And I must say, there has never been better music making anywhere at any time.
  Author: Von Cello
Eintrag from 28.04.2008
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