Puerto Rico’s Casals Festival

The Casals Festival is celebrated in San Juan, Puerto Rico every year with many talented and famous music artists and orchestra’s attending and performing at this wonderful event.

You may recognize some of names like the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and the Moscow String Quartet. Pablo Casals, a Spanish man known around the world for his incredible cellist performances, started the Casals Festival in 1957. The festival is made up of eleven concerts consisting of high caliber musicians and you can watch then from the Sala Teatro Renè Marques and at the Sala Antonio Paoli venue.

Pablo Casals was born in Spain in 1876 and it was only in 1956 that he moved to Puerto Rico where his mother was born. In Spain he was made famous for the exquisite music that he made on the virtuoso cello although he had started his music career playing the violin. Later he moved to France, living in the village of Prades and it was here that he established his first music festival, which later was renamed Pablo Casals festival. The opening of the festival was held at the University of Puerto Rico Theater with the main performance being completed by Casals himself.

Although the event finished successfully with a great performance performed by pianist Rudolph Serkin, Casals was unable to take to the stage as he suffered a heart attack during rehearsals and was hospitalized immediately. It was only sixteen years later, in 1973, when Pablo Casals finally died at nearly one hundred years of age. The festival was mainly supported by outside artists from countries like the United States but later on mainly native Puerto Ricans supported this prestigious event.

Marta Casals, Pablo’s widowed wife had been a former cellist student of his before he moved to Puerto Rico. When Pablo died Marta was the president of the Musical committee and Co-Chairman of the Board and Music Director so she had been very involved with music up until then. With the death of her husband she decided to focus on continuing his legacy by ensuring that the annual celebration continued on through the years. Till today the festival continues with its 50th anniversary celebrated in 2006.

Today it is two Puerto Rican musicians that have taken up the reigns of directing the festival and continuing this much-enjoyed classical music event supported by so many talented musicians and orchestras.