Spanish conductor Pablo Casals (1876-1973), considered the greatest cellist of the 20th century, was known for innovative bow and fingering techniques and the soaring purity of his interpretations.
"I can never play the same piece twice in the same way," he explained. "Each time it is new."
A man of character who refused to perform in Hitler's Germany, Casals played with delicacy and revitalized baroque and classical music. "The cello is like a beautiful woman who has not grown older, but younger with time, more slender, more supple, more graceful," he said.
Calling professional musicians "craftsmen," he often spoke of the importance of disciplined hard work. Casals believed in the power of music to transform life into a celebration.
At a concert the summer before his death he said, "I am perhaps the oldest musician in the world. I am an old man but in many senses a very young man. And this is what I want you to be, young, young all your life, and to say things to the world that are true."
"Don't play the notes," he advised with conviction. "Play the meaning of the notes." When Casals played his beloved cello, he would close his eyes and cock his head sideways, as if connecting with a secret muse... Perhaps the spirit of Johann Sebastian Bach?
Where words leave off, music begins. Music gets your body moving, stimulates creativity and helps you focus. With music, the spirit comes alive with constant movement, spontaneity and freedom. The right melody can motivate, make you courageous, and fill you with love.
"Music," said composer Ludwig Van Beethoven, "is a higher revelation than all wisdom or philosophy."
With music, life is a celebration.