Category Archives: Pablo Casals

I Feel that I Am Making Daily Progress

Pablo Casals? Apocryphal?

cello03Dear Quote Investigator: Pablo Casals was a brilliant cellist, and I love a remark that he reportedly made when he was in his eighties or nineties. He continued to practice intensely with his cello in those golden years, and when he was asked why he was so diligent he replied with one of these statements:

I think I’m making progress.
I think I see some improvement.

Is one of these remarks accurate?

Quote Investigator: There is evidence that Pablo Casals did make a comment of this type more than once. The earliest instance located by QI was published in the “New York Times” in 1946. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

When the Germans were driven off French territory in 1944, Casals wrote me in one of his first letters after the long enforced silence of the occupation:

“Now that the enemy has been forced to leave, I have resumed my practicing and you will be pleased to know that I feel that I am making daily progress.”

This striving for “daily progress” reflects his modest approach to his art and is the key to the secret of why “Casals is ageless.”

The letter from Casals was written to Maurice Eisenberg, the author of the “New York Times” article. Casals was born in December 1876, so for most of the year 1944 he was 67 years old.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1946 December 29, New York Times, Casals at 70: Great Spanish Cellist Waits For Country’s Liberation by Maurice Eisenberg, Quote Page 45, Column 8, New York. (ProQuest)

It Takes Courage for a Person to Listen to His Own Goodness and Act On It

Pablo Casals? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I am hoping you will be interested in researching the following quote:

Each person has inside a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts on it, he is giving a great deal of what the world needs most. It is not complicated but takes courage. It takes courage for a person to listen to his own goodness and act on it.

It’s all over the web and is attributed to Pablo Casals.

Quote Investigator: The common modern version of the quotation provided by the questioner has been slightly modified from the original statement which was indeed spoken by the renowned cellist Pablo Casals. In December 1959 a profile and interview of Casals by the journalist and activist Norman Cousins was published in The Saturday Review magazine. In the article Casals was referred to as Don Pablo, and the quotation used the word “man” instead of “person”. Here is an excerpt with more context: 1

“The answer to helplessness is not so very complicated,” Don Pablo said. “A man can do something for peace without having to jump into politics. Each man has inside him a basic decency and goodness. If he listens to it and acts it, he is giving a great deal of what it is the world needs most. It is not complicated but it takes courage. It takes courage for a man to listen to his own goodness and act on it. Do we dare to be ourselves? This is the question that counts—and not, must a man be helpless?”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 1959 December 12, The Saturday Review, Don Pablo: An Editorial, [Interview of Pablo Casals by Norman Cousins], Start Page 24, Quote Page 46, Column 1, Saturday Review, Inc., New York. (Unz)