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Celebrating the birthday of legendary cellist Pablo Casals

Celebrating the birthday of legendary cellist Pablo Casals featured image

Pablo Casals, while regarded as one of the greatest cellists of all time, was also a composer and conductor.

After establishing a highly successful concert career, Casals took to composing, one of his best known work being La Sardana, for cello ensemble. He also wrote an oratorio (a concert opera) El Pessebre, and “Hymn of the United Nations”. The Hymn was conducted by the composer and made its premiere at a special concert at the United Nations on October 24, 1971, two months before his 95th birthday. He was then awarded the UN Peace Medal for his stance on peace, justice and freedom. Previously, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy (though Lyndon B. Johnson presided over the actual ceremony).

In his younger years, Casals felt a special connection to the Six Cello Suites of JS Bach. He discovered them at age 13, practised them for the next 13 years every day before performing them, and he even created his own version of six cello suites. In August 1954, at age of 77, Casals performed Bach’s G-Major Cello Solo at Abbaye “Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa”, a Catholic monastery located south of the small border town in France, near the border to Catalonia of Spain. It was captured in the iconic photo above by legendary Armenian Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh.

Pablo Caslas was born on December 29, 1876 in El Vendrell, Spain, and died October 22, 1973, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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