The new Chair has been created to foster contemporary research and knowledge, awareness, and debate around Pau Casals. (Photo: Pau Casals Foundation)
Anna Torres Garrote
The Pau Casals Foundation and the UOC have established this Chair to promote learning and research and raise awareness about Pau Casals
The UOC-Pau Casals Chair in Music and the Defence of Peace and Human Rights will be inaugurated on Tuesday 25 January by the Pau Casals Foundation and the UOC. The new Chair has been created to foster contemporary research and knowledge, awareness, and debate around the musical and humanistic facets of Pau Casals and his extraordinary legacy, as well as the values he advocated throughout his life. The Chair, which will be affiliated to the UOC's Faculty of Arts and Humanities, will promote knowledge of Casals as an artist and as a person with a deep commitment to individual dignity, human rights, peace and democracy.
The Chair will focus on two main areas of knowledge. Firstly, Pau Casals' legacy as an all-round musician: performer, conductor and composer. And secondly, his legacy of humanism and the contemporary approach to defending peace, democracy and human rights.
The co-directors of the new Chair will be the historian Dr Joan Fuster Sobrepere, dean of the UOC's Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and Dr Alfons Martinell Sempere, professor emeritus at the University of Girona (UdG) and Honorary Director of the UdG's UNESCO Chair in Cultural Policies and Cooperation, nominated by the Pau Casals Foundation. The Chair will have two advisory boards, one dedicated to Casals' music and the other to his humanism and work to promote peace.
For Fuster Sobrepere, the purpose of this Chair is to highlight two facets of the Catalan musician's life and work. The first is "music as a meeting place and an instrument for fostering peace and democracy, causes that drove Pau Casals throughout his life". The other focuses on his musical works and the innovation he brought to the field, including "the technique he developed for playing the cello, less rigid than before, making him the creator of the concept of the cello soloist".
According to Martinell Sempere, "Pau Casals was one of the leading figures in establishing the commitment of culture to humanitarian values and peace. His advocacy of a society of nations is one example of how a musician could contribute to the United Nations' efforts to create a better world. A life and a legacy for Catalonia in the principles of peace and sustainable development on Earth".
In the coming months, the application for recognition as a UNESCO Chair will be submitted, given the specific nature of its aims and bearing in mind Pau Casals' historic links to the United Nations. Both institutions will work together on the mandatory processes and procedures for applying for recognition as a UNESCO Chair in the next round of proposal submissions, which closes in March 2022.
In 2021 saw the 50th anniversary of the first performance of the Hymn to the United Nations, composed by Pau Casals, and the presentation of the UN Peace Medal to Casals by secretary general U Thant.
About the Pau Casals Foundation
The Pau Casals Foundation is a private, non-profit organization created by Pau Casals and his wife Marta Casals in Puerto Rico in 1972 to preserve Casals' legacy in Catalonia and to promote and disseminate knowledge of classical music. The Foundation manages and conserves the Pau Casals Museum and, also, curates Casals' unique personal archive and fosters research to increase understanding of his life and works. It also organizes projects and activities to support young cellists, bring music closer to the public and help new generations learn about Pau Casals.
Joan Fuster Sobrepere
Director of the Arts and Humanities Department
Expert in: Political and cultural history of Catalonia and Spain (19th and 20th centuries); urban history of Barcelona (19th century).
Knowledge area: Contemporary history.