Saturday, December 29, 2012
Legendary Catalan cellist Pau Casals i Defilló, known as Pablo Casals, was born on December 29, 1876, near Barcelona. At age 11 he committed himself to the cello, and in 1890, at age 13, he discovered second-hand sheet music of J.S. Bach’s Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, which he practiced daily for the next 13 years before performing them in public. He is renowned above all for his sublime 1936-1939 recordings of the Bach Suites, through which he created a mass audience for these masterpieces (previously viewed as mere exercises). In the process he re-invented perceptions of the cello, casting aside hidebound conventions of proper cello technique. Casals fervently supported the Spanish Republican government in the 1930s, fiercely opposing dictator Francisco Franco, whose regime vowed to cut off both his arms.