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Pablo Casals: A Man for Our Time

May 29, 2007, 6:22 AM · I've been thinking of Pablo Casals lately. A few years ago, my wife and I visited old San Juan and were drawn to the Pablo Casals Museum. We were met at the door by the very touching news that Mr. Casals did not want any professional musician to pay for admission. How typical of this great spirit.

For years, a quote from his book Joys and Sorrows hung on my studio wall.It seems to still apply to our world today. I'd like to share it here:

"Sometimes I look about me with a feeling of complete dismay. In the confusion that afflicts the world today, I see a disrespect for the very values of life. Beauty is all about us, but how many are blind to it! 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 for its mere sake, as if they were lost and desperate. They take little pleasure in the natural and quiet and simple things of life.

Each second we live in a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again. And what do we teach our children in school? 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 of the world there is no other child exactly like you. In the millions of years that have passed there has never been another child like you. And look at your body-what a wonder it is! your legs, your arm, your cunning fingers, the way you move! You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, 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 all must work-to make this world worthy of its children.

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May 29, 2007 at 01:07 PM · What a nice thing to read first thing in the morning! NOt only must we make priorities in our teachings, but we must remind ourselves and remark to ourselves each day that even though we are not children anymore, we still have capacity to create beauty, or become the stuffs of dreams.

Often we get stuck in the mindset that it is too late. Because with strings, yes, to be professional, you must start at a startlingly early and ripe age. But for art? For poetry? For any number of things that inspire others and communicate and add thoughtful ideas or even saddness to another's daily palette?

And not cringe because, oh God, we are in our late 20s and haven't written a symphony, performed at Carnegie hall, sold a book, or been "brilliant" yet.

So, yes. Here is to the marvel of our bodies and their ability to recognise, create, and enjoy music and the plight for higher and higher knowledge and happiness in our abilities. NO matter where we might have ended up, where we didn't get to go, who we inspire and who we never studied with. Sometimes those things aren't what we need anyway. Though I'm a mediocre violinist/violist in a community nothing like I thought I'd be part of, though no one knows my name and I'll never be in a music journal or magazine...every day of my life is still full of mystery, joy, music, awe, and creation.

The dreams of my high-school self as I practiced hours every day and had ambition enough for three..and the dreams I have now as I practice hours every day and have delicous musical encounters and music-making experiences...they are very different in content. But not so different in every other way.

*yawn, stretch, discard philisophical thought for a cup of wake-up-tea to get the day going*

:)

sals,

Jennifer Warren

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