Casals always retained a love for his country Spain, and his old hometown and friends of Vendrell. He loved the old-fashioned colorful traditions of his countrymen, and eagerly participated in festivals and holidays, which were of course more meaningful to everyone in that more down-to-earth pre-television age of the world. He was happy to take part, not only as a cellist, but as just another citizen. Sometimes he would accompany on the piano. Sometimes he would dance on the beach with local children. He especially loved spending time with his nephews and nieces, the children of Enric Casals, his brother.
Casals' villa at San Salvador
He always tried to participate in the yearly Saint's Day, in Vendrell. Sometimes he played his cello. He was loved by the townspeople, who would applaud, and even carry him about on their shoulders. How wonderful it is when a famous person remembers his roots, his family and his countrymen! Casals had taken part in these festivals from the time he was a small boy. As a child he was athletic, and had joined the other boys in creating human towers, a particular Vendrell custom.
The Saint's Day festival in Vendrell in 1929 was special for Casals, for he took part in the dedication of a new organ in the parish church, where he himself had been organist as a youth. The old organ hadn't been played for decades, and had become moth-eaten and rat-infested. Casals took it upon himself to have it restored and added to. The organist of the Cathedral in Tarragona came to perform, and also many of Casal's old friends and schoolmates.
Throughout his life Casals retained his faithfulness and affection for his old friends and associates. He was a person with great personal warmth, and people liked him. In repose, or while performing on his cello, his face could look rather severe and forboding. But that was simply a reflection of his concentration. Casals was a vivacious conversationalist, and people took a liking to him very quickly.
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Marshall C. St. John
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