Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus


Department or School/College

Department of Music

Committee Chair

James Randall

Commitee Members

Anne Basinski, David Aronofsky, Jeffrey Wiltse, Luis Millan, Stephen Kalm


Hagiography, Music Messianism, Operacion Serenidad, Pablo Casals, Puerto Rico Conservatory, Susan Metcalfe Casals


University of Montana


Pau Casals (1876-1973, better known to American audiences as Pablo Casals) was a notable Catalan cellist, conductor and composer, also widely known as a humanitarian. He was raised in El Vendrell, a small village in Catalonia (Spain). He went into exile in Prades, France in 1939, towards the end of the Spanish Civil War, subsequently relocating to Puerto Rico in 1957. In October 1945, following the end of World War II, the lack of Allied intervention in Spain ignited Casals' international artistic boycott, wherein Casals vowed not to perform in any country recognizing General Francisco Franco's regime. To date, a group of over thirty biographies stand as rich and authoritative sources on Casals' life and legacy. The biographers, however, tendentiously romanticized Casals' persona by focusing on his musical accomplishments and political activism, providing a popular, yet distorted, image which continues to inform a wide audience of new and senior scholars, performers, music teachers, journalists, concert programmers, and music listeners. While a few scholarly works have touched on some biographical deficiencies (Chaitkin, 2001 and Mercier, 2008), nearly four decades after Casals' death, no definitive scholarly biography exists. This dissertation takes a critical look at three facets of Casals' legacy previously undocumented or misrepresented. Through newly discovered sources, Casals' life is discussed on three dimensions of scale: personal, national and international. The first chapter examines Casals' marriage to Susan Metcalfe illustrating the artist's stratagems to regulate his biographical enterprise. This individual realm reveals the deeply personal nature of Casals' vocal works--at the example of En Sourdine (1904). The second chapter features Casals' entanglements with Puerto Rico's cultural development plan (Operación Serenidad), wherein a neocolonialist lens seemed fitting to observe Casals' musical legacy at a national (Puerto Rico) level. The third chapter covers the later part of Casals' life and focuses on his engagements with the United Nations, the production of the "Hymn to the United Nations," and his grandest musical aspiration--to redeem the world through his peace oratorio El Pessebre. At all three levels of analysis, this dissertation demonstrates that Casals enjoyed increasing notoriety through the construction of a positive widespread public image, because he wanted an enduring legacy transcendent of place and time. As an intellectual and cultural product of pre-World War I, however, Casals believed in moral certainty and cultural hierarchy. Being out-of-touch with major social, political and intellectual developments, Casals often served as a carrier of deep-seated social and cultural prejudices. Hence, his legacy is contested and fickle.



© Copyright 2013 Silvia Maria Lazo