Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Classical music was big business back in 1951
In 1950 Pablo Casals presented the first Prades Festival in the town's church of St Pierre to celebrate the Bach bicentenary. For the following year's Festival the Bishop of Perpignan declined to make the church available, arguing that the Bach anniversary had been a special case. So the 1951 Prades Festival was held in the Palace of the Kings of Majorca (Palais des Rois de Majorque) in nearby Perpignan, see the photo above. Columbia Records had exclusive recording rights for the early Prades Festival and classical music was big business even then - the 1951 Festival was bankrolled by Columbia to the tune of $25,000 via an advance against royalties. This was a very considerable sum in those days, but Columbia's investment paid handsome dividends as their recordings made at this and other Prades Festivals remain in the catalogue more than half a century later. Classic Casals performances captured at the 1951 Festival include his accounts of Beethoven's Archduke Trio and Schubert's Trio No 1 in B flat major with Eugene Istomin and Alexander Schneider, and Beethoven's Cello Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 5 with Rudolf Serkin. My photo of the Palace of the Kings of Majorca was taken a few weeks ago, the same view was used as a motif on the original LP releases of the 1951 Casals Festival recordings - see sleeve below.
* More echoes of Pablo Casals here and here. The Palace of the Kings of Majorca is on the edge of the Saint Jacques area of Perpignan. This is the city's traditional gypsy enaclave and it featured with photos in a post here last year.
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