At the time of his death in 1973, Pablo Casals was hailed "the foremost cellist of the 20th century." Born in 1876, Pablo Casals made his public debut in 1899. He had said, "All the music is a rainbow. Music is a divine thing. Music is an inspiration...A state of the soul and a creation of God, like all nature. What gives me more joy is to try to give to the others what I have received from God. If God has given me music, what a joy to give it to the young musicians."
As part of Jackie Kennedy's campaign for culture, Pablo Casals was invited to perform at the White House in November 1961. Jack and Jackie were hosting a state dinner in honor of the visiting Puerto Rican Governor and Mrs Luis Muñoz Marín. Pablo Casals told Jack and Jackie, "May the music that I will play for you and for your friends symbolize my deep feelings for the American people and the faith and confidence we all have in you as leader of the free world."
Pablo Casals last performed in the White House in 1904 during Theodore Roosevelt's administration. Arguing "the first thing a man has to have is liberty," Pablo Casals reportedly stopped playing in Russia after 1917, in Germany or Italy from 1936 and in Spain after the civil war in 1939 because of "the injustices of the (Generalissimo Francisco) Franco regime."
His last public concert in the United States was in 1928. Pablo Casals expressed, "I have great affection for the United States, but I cannot condone its support of a dictator who sided with America's enemies, (Adolf) Hitler and (Benito) Mussolini. Franco's power would surely collapse without American aid." Since 1956, Pablo Casals had lived in exile in Puerto Rico. He regarded Luis Muñoz Marín as "one of the great citizens of the world because of his art (poetry) and because of his love of liberty."
In 1958, Pablo Casals performed at the annual United Nations Day concert "because I thought it was the best place to manifest my desire for peace." Pablo Casals explained his reason for stopped playing, "My cello is my only weapon. I do not play any more. I am a musician. A musician is a human being, with all the attributes and obligations, from and to, mankind. A musician, as every man, has the right of action in following his conscience. We are one of the leaves of a tree, and the tree is all humanity. We cannot live without the others, without the tree. We need liberty. The first thing a man has to have is liberty. This is why I can't conceive of a country with a dictator."
The concert at the White House east ballroom followed a fillet of beef dinner in the state dining and oval blue rooms. Jack Kennedy told the 153 guests, "You (Pablo Casals) have demonstrated in your own life that an artist must be a free man. Music has made as great a contribution to this nation as other efforts which may be more publicized."
Tim Creery of Southam News Services reported in April 1962: "The President's overwhelming personal popularity must be accounted the most important political fact of life in the United States today (in 1962). There are several measures of the phenomenon. Television, magazines, newspapers and all the other media of communication in the U.S. show the extent to which Kennedy – and the people, events and policies related to him – dominate the public consciousness.
"The Gallup poll finds him enjoying huge popular support month after month. The desperation of the Republicans, who can hardly make themselves seen or heard, bears further witness to the effectiveness of the Kennedy exposure. The White House is at any time a powerful agency for the favorable projection of a personality. Witness Ike (Dwight D. Eisenhower), and others before him. But the variety and intensity of interest which the Kennedy White House appears to afford the public has probably never been matched, even by FDR (Franklin D. Roosevelt).
"(Jack and Jackie) offer a combination of glamor and achievement that leaves the traditional idols, the stars of the theatrical arts, far behind. And what is the Royal family, for which Americans often have seemed to yearn, beside this combination? It is mere splendor robbed of power. (Jack and Jackie) brought glamor to the White House, and built glamor in the White House."
The 153 guests attending the Pablo Casals concert at the White House included leaders of the music world such as Gian Carlo Menotti, Rafael Hernandez, Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski, Aaron Copland, Virgil Roy Harris, Alan Hovhaness, Dr. Douglas Moore, Norman Dello Thomson, Howard Hansen, Dr. Jolo, Walter Piston, Roger Sessions and Samuel Barber. Pablo Casals performed "Mendelsshon's Trio No 1 in D Minor, added Schumann's Adagio and Allegro in A-Flat Major and ended with 5 cello and piano pieces by Couperin and Mendelssohn’s trio in D minor." Pablo Casals was accompanied by violinist Alexander Schneider and pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski.
Gian Carlo Menotti described the concert "one of the most exciting evenings I have spent in my 30 years in America. It is the first time Americans really have shown they are above Europe" in the cultural field.
The new Constitution of Spain in 1978 was the 12th Constitution since 1812. The Constitution replaced the laws under which Generalissimo Francisco Franco ruled from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975. The Constitution "ushering in Western-style democracy" as Spain made "relatively peaceful transition to democracy." Back in November 1966, Generalissimo Francisco Franco asked for the Cortes (parliament) of Spain to approve "a new Constitution (at the time Spain's 8th since 1812) be submitted to referendum." In October 1966, Spain held its first Cortes (parliament) election since 1936. In an interview in 1966, Pablo Casals stated he would only return back to Spain "if democracy is restored...Spain is changing but we have to wait to see if there is going to be a real change or another cataclysm." The 1966 Constitution argued for "certain easings of restrictions. Franco retains control of executive and legislative powers." Pablo Casals made the point at the time, "It is change a la Franco. Everything is the same."