Pau Casals and ‘El cant dels ocells’

Pau Carles Casals i Defilló was born in El Vendrell on December 29, 1876 and died in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 22, 1973.

In case some clueless do not know who we are talking about, it is the eminent musician Pau Casals. He was the initiator of the modern Spanish cellist school, innovating the technique of that instrument, in the search for greater depth and expressiveness. He composed numerous works, such as the song A tu, des de Santes Creus, Nigra sum for the Montserrat monastery.

Always concerned about peace, in 1905 he created the Catalan Committee against war together with the astronomer Josep Comas and the geologist Albert Carsí. In 1926, the Associació Obrera de Concerts, to give workers the opportunity to access music. On October 24, 1958, he gave a memorable concert before the United Nations General Assembly, which was worth being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. His song of peace is seen in El Pessebre, 1960, and in El cant dels ocells, which has become popular as the anthem of peace in many countries.

On November 13, 1961, President Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, invited him to give a concert in the East Room of the White House, along with violinist Alexander Schneider and pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowsky. Previously, alone, Kennedy and Casals talked for an hour about the war and the international situation, without forgetting Catalan autonomy. Casals stated that “he had not met anyone who listened more closely than he.”

The concert was a resounding success. Works by Mendelssohn, Scxhumann and others were performed and, at the end, El cant dels ocells, which moved Kennedy who embraced Casals, moved. Leonard Berstein, attending the event, who had been concentrating with his head in his hands, said “I am deeply moved, not only by the quality of Casals’s music, but also by the category of those who have been his listeners.” In the San Francisco Chronicle it was written: “… President Kennedy began the act with a few words in which he recalled that Casals had already acted in that room on two occasions: in 1898, before President McKinley and in 1904 before President Teodoro Roosevelt… ended by affirming that the work of all the artists represented a true symbol for human freedom, especially in cases where their representatives have the category of Pau Casals… We believe that an artist, to be true to himself and to his work, He must be a free man.
Pau Casals always propagated his autonomist will. He said it in an interview with the newspaper ABC shortly before his death: “I am a Catalanist but not a separatist.”

We wish to give thanks to the writer of this post for this remarkable material

Pau Casals and ‘El cant dels ocells’