Casals at age 22
Casals at 22

Casals had matured during these pleasant years in Barcelona. He had found his inner strength, and begun to make a name for himself in the area, as a cellist and a musician. He had been saving his money, and mastering the French language, too. When he felt he had enough money to care for his mother, who had cared for him so many years, he decided to leave Barcelona, to make his way in the world. Kissing his mother goodbye, he set off for Paris, the cultural capitol of the world. He carried with him his hopes and dreams, and a letter of introduction from Count Morphy to Charles Lamoureux, the famous Parisian conductor, who had his own orchestra in that gay city.

Pablo Casals arrived in Paris early in the autumn of 1899. The skies were blue. The air was crisp and clean. He felt wonderful! This great city, in which he had previously suffered so much, would now become his launching pad to a world-wide career. He immediately went to Lamoureux's office. Lamoreux was preparing for the Paris premier performance of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. He was completely absorbed in his work, and not really interested in meeting Casals at this time. Pablo had learned something of manners, and some patience, too. Realizing the Lamoureux was busy, he excused himself saying, "Monsieur Lamoureux, I do not want to disturb you. I just came to give you this letter from the Count of Morphy." At the mention of Morphy's name, Lamoureux laid aside his score, and demanded to see the letter. After reading it, he told Casals to return the next day, with his cello.

When Casals arrived to see him the next day, Lamoureux was still pre-occupied with Wagner's great opera. However, Lamoureux had arranged for an accompanist to be present, and he really did want to hear Casals. Lamoureux continued studying his opera, as Pablo tuned up, and began playing a concerto. But in only a few moments Lamoureux laid aside his work, turned himself around, and gave his full attention to the young cellist. He had never heard another cellist play like that! As Pablo finished his performance, Lamoureux rushed to him, embraced him, and said, "You must play at my first concert of this season!" This was remarkable, because only the best and most famous musicians were ever invited to perform with Lamoureux. The arrangements were made, and Pablo Casals made an incredible debut in Paris, on November 12, with the Lamoureux Orchestra, performing the Lalo Concerto. The critics wrote that he had a "magical tone," and that his musicianship was every bit as wonderful as his technique.


Copyright © 1996, 1997 Marshall C. St. John