The course of my whole life would undoubtedly have been very different if, one October evening in 1955, I had not had been fortunate enough to hear a live rehearsal of Mozart’s Requiem. A few months earlier, on 1st August, I had turned 14, and luck would have it that my teacher, Joan Just (a composer, and the director of the Conservatoire in my home town of Igualada), decided to prepare the work with the choir of the local Schola Cantorum. That evening I was on my way to the Conservatoire to attend my usual counterpoint and harmony lessons with him; for some reason, I didn’t receive the message telling me that classes had been cancelled due to a rehearsal of the Requiem.
So I discreetly sat in on the rehearsal at the back of the hall, where the choir of the Schola Cantorum was accompanied by just an organ and a string quartet. From the very first notes, I was totally fascinated by the incredible beauty of the work and the expressive power of the melodies, by every movement, by the originality of the various themes and the perfection of the counterpoint and the richness of the modulations. By the time the final bars sounded, I had been profoundly moved by this extraordinary experience, which transported me to a dimension I had never experienced before. I felt overwhelmed by this veritable “lux aterna” (eternal light) and the great power of consolation that emanated from this majestic piece. As I walked home, I said to myself that if music could touch a person’s soul so powerfully, I wanted to be a musician.
A few days later, I went to Barcelona to buy a second-hand cello. On my way home, I tried to play a little and, after the first few moments of hesitation, I suddenly felt a great affinity with the instrument. The fingers of my left hand positioned themselves and moved easily and deftly on the neck of the instrument, while, with little effort, my right hand was quickly able to control the quality of the sound with the bow. In short, I had the wonderful feeling of being able to sing again and I felt completely at home! It was then that I understood the unique feeling described by Mark Twain when he said that “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” And so it was that after hearing Mozart’s Requiem and my first few attempts at playing the cello, I was absolutely certain about the path I would follow: from that moment, I would always work to master and share that light which gives meaning to life and nourishes our soul.
Salzburg, 31st January, 2023