This dissertation begins with an overview of Gaspar Cassadó's life and career, focusing in particular on his relationship with his teacher and friend, Pablo Casals. Special attention will be given to the period immediately following the Second World War, which had a dramatic impact on both Cassadó's reputation and his friendship with his mentor. In addition, the paper will discuss Cassadó's remarkable versatility as a musician, looking briefly at his activities as composer, arranger and inventor. Very few musicians have excelled in so many different areas, particularly in the 20th century.
Though little scholarly research has been done on Cassadó, in recent years two volumes have been published which add a great deal to what is known about him. Elaine Boda's doctoral dissertation of 1998 contains an excellent biographical sketch, as well as good analyses of several of Cassadó's best known compositions. In 2000, Mònica Pagès Santacana published the first biography of Cassadó, in Spanish and Catalan. The book gives a detailed account of Cassadó's life and career, and includes many concert reviews, which amply demonstrate the popularity which Cassadó enjoyed. The book also contains numerous recollections of Cassadó by musicians who knew him, and these vividly convey the great affection which his colleagues felt for him. The existence of these studies by Boda and Pagès allows this paper to have a narrower focus, concentrating on Cassadó's relationship with Casals and his wide range of musical endeavor.
In 1949, Cassadó was accused of having collaborated with the Axis powers during the Second World War. Leading the charges was his mentor, Pablo Casals. Their friendship and Cassadó's career were severely damaged. The nature of Cassadó's wartime activities is a very sensitive issue, and many writers tend to steer clear of it. In order to treat the subject fairly, one must consider the strong possibility that Casals was completely mistaken about what Cassadó had done during the war. Casals' reputation as a moral paragon was (and still is) quite strong, and few dared challenge him or question his opinions or motives, even posthumously. However, Casals himself occasionally acted in ways which seemed to contradict his well-known stance against fascism, and in order to explore Cassadó's story completely, it is necessary to consider these inconsistencies. It is somewhat understandable that Casals attacked Cassadó as he did, for at best, Cassadó's political attitudes were hopelessly naive. However, the charges of active Nazi and Fascist collaboration that Casals and other prominent musicians made against him were almost certainly overstated, if not simply false.
The second part of the paper is devoted to an exploration of Cassadó's varied musical activities. Cassadó was an extraordinarily inventive person, as well as an excellent mimic. He wrote several short pieces that he attributed to other composers. These works display an remarkable understanding of style, and were long thought to be genuine transcriptions. Because of this, Cassadó has been aptly compared to the great violinist Fritz Kreisler. Cassadó also wrote a great deal of music under his own name, much of it for cello, but also works for orchestra, piano and string quartet. Most of his music reflects both his Spanish roots and his studies with Ravel, but there are also pieces such as the Sonata in the Old Spanish Style which display Cassadó's great understanding of and affection for Baroque music. Included as an appendix to the paper is the most definitive list to date of Cassadó's compositions and arrangements, the first publication of the catalog of his manuscripts, now in possession of Tamagawa University in Tokyo. Most striking is the wide array of pieces which Cassadó arranged for cello and piano.
Cassadó's recitals also reflected the great range of his musical interest, and the paper's second appendix includes several programs from concerts he gave at the Accademia Musica Chigiana in Siena, where he taught for many years. These concerts highlight not only Cassadó's versatility, but the different approach to giving concerts which existed in his time. The paper's final appendix contains the two programs of Cassadó's music performed by the author as the performance component of this dissertation, and they too reflect this old-fashioned approach to programming.
Cassadó was also an inventor, and made several interesting modifications to his instrument and bow, which will be briefly discussed as well. Cassadó's wide range of achievements would have been impressive in any age, but is particularly striking today, when musicians are so specialized. This paper will attempt to highlight Cassadó's varied achievements, and place them in their historical context. In so doing, his remarkable career can be better understood.
© Copyright by Nathaniel J. Chaitkin, 2001.
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