On 19 October 1938, a charity concert by Pau Casals for the Children’s Aid Society took place at the Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona Opera House). During the performance, the great cellist read a few words asking for help to buy clothes, food and medicine for children and elderly people suffering from the consequences of the Civil War.
Pau Casals, the internationally-renowned Catalan musician, always defended peace and freedom, as well as becoming involved in humanitarian actions, often performing charity concerts such as the one at the Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona at the height of the Civil War. Benefits from this concert, which was Casals’ last in Catalonia and Spain before he went into exile, went to the Children’s Aid Society. Half-way through the performance, in which he was accompanied by the National Concert Orchestra, conducted by Pérez Cases, the great cellist read a few words, addressed to the American people, asking for aid to purchase clothes, food and medicine for children and the elderly. The Teatre del Liceu opera house was packed, and those in the audience included Manuel Azaña, president of the Republic, and Juan Negrín, head of the Republican Government. Representatives from the Republican civil and military establishment and intellectual and artistic circles were also in attendance. After the concert, Pau Casals met the authorities and other personalities from the world of politics at the Cercle del Liceu club, where he was congratulated on the performance and his commitment to the Catalan people.
After the victory of Franco’s armies, Pau Casals left Spain to take up residence in Prada de Conflent, France. During World War Two, he continued to perform at charity concerts in aid of his exiled fellow countrymen and women, particularly those confined in concentration camps. In recognition of this commitment to human rights, Casals was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1958 and commissioned to compose the Hymn of the United Nations in 1971.
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