On 19 May 1960, during celebrations for the centenary of the birth of the poet Joan Maragall at the Palau de la Música Catalana, attended by four of Franco’s ministers, the audience began singing "El Cant de la Senyera", the Catalan hymn banned by the Franco regime, leading to the incident known as the Events of the Palau.
In 1960, the Orfeó Català (Catalan Choral Society), with headquarters in the Palau de la Música, prepared a tribute to mark the centenary of the birth of Joan Maragall, which sought to be an act of Catalan nationalism. It included the performance of the anthem “Cant de la Senyera” (a homage to the Catalan flag), considered a symbol of Catalan nationalism and written by Maragall himself. On 21 April 1960, once the programme was approved, the Orfeó requested the necessary permission from the Provincial Information and Tourism Office to hold the tribute. Days later, the Chief of Police notified the Orfeó that the concert had to be postponed due to its content. As a result, the choral society decided to remove the “Cant de la Senyera” from the programme in order to keep the date of the tribute for May 19.
This was a time of many anti-Franco initiatives of a civic and cultural nature, which emerged in the mid-1950s, embracing Catalan nationalist affiliations, and some of which also had a clearly Catholic and generally conservative base. Between 1954 and 1955, for instance, the group Catalans Catòlics (Catholic Catalans) or Crist Catalunya (Christ Catalonia, CC) was established, formed by young Christians such as Jordi Pujol, who would later become the President of the Government of Catalonia between 1980 and 2003. This group played a part in the so-called “Fets del Palau” (Events of the Palau de la Música), which were to take place during the tribute to Joan Maragall.
That evening, the Palau – with four of Franco’s ministers in attendance – was teeming with police under the instruction of the Francoist authorities. When the time came to perform the “Cant de la Senyera”, a group of Catalan nationalists in the audience sang the first verse of the anthem and most of those in attendance followed suit. The police intervened immediately, beating the activists who fought back with their fists. Twenty-five people were arrested, then interrogated and tortured in the Prefecture of Police Headquarters on Via Laietana. Subsequently, there were other arrests, including Jordi Pujol, who despite being one of the instigators behind the protest, did not attend the Palau that night. They were subject to court martial proceedings and were held responsible for the events and the distribution of a pamphlet that criticised the dictator. As a result, Pujol was sentenced to seven years in prison.
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