It was not stubborn pride alone that led Pablo Casals to turn down the opportunity of attending the Brussels Conservatory. He had an inner realization of the greatness of the musical and cellistic talents that God had given to him, and he realized that he was past the point of benefiting much from study there.
In his heart he felt that he needed to move to Paris. Count Morphy, back in Spain, was perplexed and frustrated by Pablo's decision to go there, but his mother, as always, understood Pablo's feelings, and did all she could to assist him in this move. Dona Pilar rented a small apartment in Paris, and lived there with Pablo, and another son, yet an infant. Casals said that his mother suffered great hardships in order to help him, even to the extreme of cutting and selling her long beautiful hair. Pablo's father in Vendrell sent all the money he could, but it was also necessary for his mother to sew to earn a little money, and provide food and shelter for the trio. Casals stated, "Oh! the suffering and the wonderful way of my mother then. She was a heroine!"
The working musician's life has often been hard and poor, and Casals now found it so. He found a position as second cellist in a vaudeville theatre, where he earned a few francs per day. It was tiring work, largely because the theatre was far from his apartment. He had no money for transportation, and walked many miles on dusty dirt roads to his job. Because of stress, hard work and lack of nourishment, Casals came down with with the fever. Realizing that trying to make it in Paris at this time was too much of a hardship for himself and his family, he quit his job in the theatre, and immediately returned to his home in warm, sunny Barcelona.
Copyright © 1996, 1997 Marshall C. St. John
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