Academic journal article The Southern Review

I Am Thinking of Pablo Casals

Academic journal article The Southern Review

I Am Thinking of Pablo Casals

Article excerpt

NOT AS A BOY, his first cello a gourd, and not as a cellist celebrity sawing away at the world, but Casals as an old man in exile, Spanish to the hilt, who has taken up residence in the French Pyrenees. He has vowed a vow never again to set foot on Spanish soil so long as Franco lives. But now the dilemma: en route to an international concert, he must change planes in Barcelona. To visit Spain would be to condone a brutal fascist state, to legitimate a despot who murders his own citizens and, with the help of Nazi warplanes, firebombed Guernica into ash. Then brilliance seizes Casals: why not pass through the airport without setting foot in it? A verbal quibble, yes, a linguistic wobble, sure, but one that will shame Franco. I am thinking of Pablo Casals--bald-headed, with wire-rim glasses, like Gandhi only earthier. To complete the scene, cue up Bach's six suites for unaccompanied cello, their mournful seesawing like incoming waves over the airport terminal. Casals debuted these suites in his twenties, after practicing them two hours a day for twelve years. In a wheelchair, he could have glided through the lobby, his feet mere inches above Spanish soil, and thus kept his vow. …

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