Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Pablo Casals, fully Pau Casals i Defilló

Spanish Cellist and Conductor

"The truly important things in life - love, beauty, and one's own uniqueness - are constantly being overlooked."

"To retire is to begin to die."

"The first thing to do in life is to do with purpose what one proposes to do."

"Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michaelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children."

"To the whole world you might be just one person, but to one person you might just be the whole world."

"To live is not enough; we must take part."

"The CHILD must know that he is a MIRACLE, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world will not be, another child like him."

"Real understanding does not come from what we learn in books; it comes from what we learn from love of nature, of music, of man. For only what is learned in that way is truly understood."

"The most perfect technique is that which is not noticed at all."

"I am perhaps the oldest musician in the world. I am an old man but in many senses a very young man. And this is what I want you to be, young, young all your life, and to say things to the world that are true."

"The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human."

"You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children."

"The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn't been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him."

"Music will save the world."

"Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart."

"I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance."

"Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own good."

"In modern business it is not the crook who is to be feared most, it is the honest man who doesn't know what he is doing."

"Beauty is all about us, but how may are blind! They look at the wonder of this earth and seem to see nothing. People move hectically but give little thought to where they are going. They seek excitement ... as if they were lost and desperate."

"The heart of the melody can never be put down on paper."

"To strip human nature until its divine attributes are made clear, to inform ordinary activities with spiritual fervor, to give wings of eternity to that which is most ephemeral; to make divine things human and human things divine; such is Bach, the g."

"Let us not forget that the greatest composers where also the greatest thieves. They stole from everyone and everywhere."

"Man has made many machines, complex and cunning, but which of them indeed rivals the workings of his heart?"

"All I could do was stare at the pages and caress them... I hurried home, clutching the suites as if they were the crown jewels... I read and reread them. I was thirteen at the time, but for the following eighty years the wonder of my discovery has continued to grow on me. Those suites opened up a whole new world. I began playing them with indescribable excitement. They became my most cherished music. I studied and worked at them every day for the next twelve years."

"Do we dare to be ourselves? This is the question that counts - and not, Must a man be helpless? ... A man can do something for peace without having to jump into politics."

"Don?t be vain because you happen to have talent. You are not responsible for that; it was not of your doing. What you do with your talent is what matters."

"Each week I receive from Barcelona a package full of clippings from different magazines and newspapers."

"For the past eighty years I have started each day in the same manner. It is not a mechanical routine but something essential to my daily life. I go to the piano, and I play two preludes and fugues of Bach. I cannot think of doing otherwise. It is a sort of benediction on the house. But that is not its only meaning for me. It is a rediscovery of the world of which I have the joy of being a part. It fills me with awareness of the wonder of life, with the feeling of the incredible marvel of being a human being. The music is never the same for me, never. Each day it is something new, fantastic and unbelievable. That is Bach, like nature, a miracle!"

"Bach is the supreme genius of music... This man, who knows everything and feels everything, cannot write one note, however unimportant it may appear, which is anything but transcendent. He has reached the heart of every noble thought, and has done it in the most perfect way."

"He also will perform the rarely encountered Song of the Birds... It's only about two minutes long, but it's very beautiful. Casals played it many times, but you don't hear it much anymore."

"How could anybody think of Bach as 'cold' when these [cello] suites seem to shine with the most glittering kind of poetry? As I got on with the study I discovered a new world of space and beauty... the feelings I experienced were among the purest and most intense in my artistic life!"

"I am a very simple man. I am a man first, an artist second. My first obligation is to the welfare of my fellow man. I will endeavor to meet this obligation through music, since it transcends language, politics and national boundaries."

"I am an old man, but in many senses a very young man. And this is what I want you to be, young, young all your life."

"I have always regarded manual labor as creative and looked with respect - and, yes, wonder - at people who work with their hands. It seems to me that their creativity is no less than that of a violinist or painter."

"I have not played the cello in front of an audience since long years but I think I must do it this time. I am going to play a melody from the Catalonian folklore: The singing of the Birds. Birds, when in the sky, go singing: Peace, peace, peace. And this is a melody that Bach, Beethoven and all great people would have admired and loved. And, in addition, it springs up from the soul of my country: Catalonia."

"I used to think that eighty was a very old age. Now I am ninety. I do not think this anymore. As long as you are able to admire and to love, you are young."

"I was at Mount Tamalpais near San Francisco hiking when a boulder came hurling down the mountainside and smashed my left hand. When I looked at my mangled bloody fingers, I had a strange reaction. 'Thank God I will never have to play again,' I said. The fact is that dedication to one's art does involve a sort of enslavement."

"I'm beginning to notice some improvement."

"In music, in the sea, in a flower, in a leaf, in an act of kindness... I see what people call God in all these things."

"It takes courage for people to listen to their own goodness and act on it."

"Love for one's country is great but why should that love stop at that border?"

"Martita is the marvel of my world, and each day I find some new wonder in her."

"Music must serve a purpose; it must be a part of something larger than itself, a part of humanity."

"Music, this marvelous universal language understood by everyone everywhere, ought to be a source of better communication among men."

"Of course, I continue to play and to practice. I think I would do so if I lived for another hundred years."

"Put aside convention and play as I believe Bach himself played, with great freedom. Play uncensored, from the heart."

"The art of interpretation is not to play what is written."

"The art of not playing in tempo--one has to learn it. And the art of not playing what is written on the printed paper."

"The capacity to care is what gives life its most deepest significance."

"The cello is like a beautiful woman who has not grown older but younger with time, more slender, more supple, more graceful."