Pau Casals is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century as well as a devoted humanist and defender of freedom, justice and peace.
His international career began in Paris in 1899 and took him around the world. He spent the last 34 years of his life in exile, pining for his beloved Catalonia and his beach house at Sant Salvador in El Vendrell. During his exile, he was extraordinarily active with concerts benefiting Spanish and Catalan refugees who had fled the totalitarian regime to southern France and helping them in every possible way. With time, those activist efforts were complemented by his participation in festivals and master classes, and by conducting his oratorio El Pessebre (The Manger) in an international crusade for peace.
Pau Casals always hoped to return to his homeland, but when he reached his nineties he realized that this would probably never happen. It was then that he decided to shape his legacy by establishing a Foundation dedicated to the highest human and musical ideals to which he had devoted his life. His hope was that it would personify those human principles we hold so dear. His house and garden in San Salvador became a living museum –not a static exhibit so much as a dynamic institution that spurred study of the musical century in which he played so great a part–. It was also his dream to build an educational center for young people of his native country as well as from around the globe: one that sponsored artistic activities at the highest level and inspired a greater love of music and culture. Pau Casals created this Foundation as a symbol of hope, because he believed that music can contribute to a better world.
Since then, the mission of the Foundation –whose board of trustees consists of many distinguished individuals, including representatives from Catalonia’s hallmark institutions– has been to conserve and convey the Maestro’s work and ideas through significant projects and activities.
Marta Casals Istomin
Founder and Vice-President of the Pau Casals Foundation
“The work of all artists... stands as a symbol of human freedom and no one has enriched that freedom more signally than Pau Casals”.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
“Pau Casals has deeply understood that the world is more imperiled by those who tolerate or encourage evil than by those who commit it”.
Albert Einstein, physicist
“You have devoted your life to truth, to beauty and to peace. Both as a man and as an artist you embody the ideals symbolized by the United Nations Peace Medal”.
U Thant, Secretary General of the United Nations
“Casals is a truly sensitive, profound artist—a musician in the broadest sense of the word. No detail is neglected, everything is addressed with tact, wisdom, insight and absolutely no affectation his work is the result of much thought, and it is always right, alive, moving to the depths of the soul. He is the greatest instrumentalist of all time”.
Eugène Ysaye, violinist