Stephen De'ak was born in Hungary in 1897, and died in California in 1975. In 1973 De'ak wrote a biography of David Popper (author of the well-known "High School of Cello Playing," and many cello compositions). Here follows a second excerpt from De'ak's biography of Popper, in which we find Popper's contact with, and appreciation of, Pablo Casals.

" We took the subway to his (Popper's) home, and I (Stephen De'ak) was grateful for the noise, which prevented any conversation. However, in the pauses of station stops, Popper made some general comments (about the Casals concert they had just attended), such as: "beautiful tone," "excellent technique," "fine musicianship" and "splendid intonation." Then, finally, he said " spite of all these, he did not touch my heart!"

"With this remark Popper indicated that the style of his own art was rooted in an earlier tradition, and that he felt uncomfortable wihen confronted with a new aesthetic language and a new cellistic technique.

"Popper faced the challenging problem that every artist--musician, painter, poet or writer-- experiences when the new generation comes forward with an innovation in style. Popper's own playing had represented a move forward and away from the artists who preceded him. However, a link existed--a foothold from which to leap forward. But for him to be in full agreement now with the progressive trend would mean negation of lifelong convictions on which his art and his success had been built. At the present, there are movements which are drifting away from the type of performance which was new in the early twentieth century.

"The profound revelation which I experienced when hearing Casals for the first time disturbed my loyalty to Popper. At that time, I was very confused. I was aware that I was witnessing a meeting of two giants of the 'cello, and I was quite overwhelmed both to my faith and admiration for my own teacher, Popper, and by the exciting and very convincing style of playing of the new musical sun on the horizon--Casals."

David Popper, no end pin
David Popper
Without an End Pin

Copyright © 1996, 1997 Marshall C. St. John