Casal's first wife was a famous American soprano, Susan Metcalfe. They were married in New Rochelle, NY, in the year 1914 (according to Grunfeld. Littlehales says they were married in 1906.) Casals admired his wife as a person, and also as a musician, and she brought great happiness to his life during their first years together. Casals wrote to a friend, "A new life begins indeed for me, and one that will bring happiness" (quoted by Fredric Grunfeld in "Great Performers--Pablo Casals").

Susan Metcalfe
Susan Metcalfe

Pablo and Susan Casals gave concerts together in America, Europe, England, Mexico and Cuba. Casals accompanied his wife on the piano, with great enjoyment. In fact, he liked accompanying so much that he once told his manager F. C. Coppicus that he would be happy to quit the cello! It should come as no surprise to us then to learn that Casals usually had warm friendships with his own accompanists. As we dig deeper into Casal's life, it becomes increasingly obvious that his chief love was for music itself, not just for the cello. And so we see Casals not only performing as a soloist, but becoming heavily involved with accompanying, chamber music groups, and finally conducting his own symphony orchestra, of which more will be written later.

Unfortunately, Pablo and Susan eventually found that their careers were incompatible, and so they separated after fourteen years of marriage and joint concertizing.

It is not technique on a particular instrument that makes a man or woman a great musician, but love of music and people. In Casal's old age his technique slipped quite a bit, and even in his prime he probably did not have the technical abilities of Starker, Rostropovich or Ma. But he played his music from a heart full of love, dignity and respect. He truly cared about people, and freedom and justice; and so he moved those who heard him, and he had a great impact on the musical world, and the world at large. Students hoping to be professional artists should give time to developing their souls and minds, and humanity, along with their fingers and bow arms.

Copyright © 1996, 1997 Marshall C. St. John