dimecres, 23 d’octubre de 2013

Pau Casals

Quan vaig venir a Catalunya per primer cop fa "alguns" anys, no en sabia res del pais o la seva gent. L'unica referencia que tenia era el llibre d'Orwell, Homenatge a Catalunya - un bon començament. Com que no m'he interessat mai per les arts, no coneixia ni Gaudi ni Miro, ni Pau Casals. Si no hagues sigut per els Electric Light Orchestra, tampoc hagues sabut quin instrument és el violoncel. Bé, ara sé una mica més i per recordar els 40 anys des del seu mort, farem 4 ratlles i la famosa intervenció a les Nacions Unides...
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the passing away of Pau Casals. Now, if you know your world politics, and music, you'll probably know him. I didn't, though, before coming to Catalonia so I'll offer a brief summary for those who like me are not so au fait with "the arts":-
Pau Casals was a Catalan, born in 1876. World-famous cellist and composer, famous to the extent that he played for Queen Victoria, Roosevelt, and JFK, among others. After Franco's coup d'etât, he went into exile and was an outspoken critic of those countries who supported Franco's dictatorship, or merely turned a blind eye - countries such as the USA or England, who eventually accepted Franco into the UN! Casals stopped playing the cello publicly and dedicated his time to campaigning for the return of democracy in Spain and Catalonia, and other peace campaigns around the world. 
His work, especially in favour of the refugees and victims of Franco, led to his being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize - but Spain's influence on other countries proved too strong. He refused to play at the UN for many years as they had accepted the Spanish dictatorship, but on a few occasions of world-wide importance, he accepted that the benefits of his playing there were immense. He played his beautiful haunting piece El Cant dels Ocells (The song of the birds), and in 1971 was asked to compose the music for the UN hymn. It was then in 1971 that the UN awarded him with its first UN Peace Medal, and he gave his famous speech - improvised at the age of 94. 
Highly recommended listening, here is the "I am a Catalan" speech, followed by the Song of Birds. Spare a few minutes to give them a listen, you will not regret it!

2 comentaris:

  1. Thanks! Really I know very little about this man but enough to appreciate he was one of those once-in-a-generation great figures of humanity.