The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks of Welcome at the White House Concert by Pablo Casals
November 13, 1961

Ladies and gentlemen:

I want to welcome you all to the White House on this occasion. This dinner tonight is in honor of our distinguished guest, Governor Munoz Marin and his wife and the people of Puerto Rico.

Pablo Casals has honored all of us by consenting to come here and play.

I think that all of us feel a special pride in what the Governor has done, the lessons he has taught us, the link which he has established between us and the most important countries to the south, and for his own efforts to improve the life of his people.

Therefore, Governor, in your coming tonight, we want to pay special tribute to you and your efforts in behalf of the cause to which we are all committed.

I also want to welcome those of you who are in the world of music, and those who support those who are in the world of music. I think it is most important not that we regard artistic achievement and action as a part of our armor in these difficult days, but rather as an integral part of our free society.

We believe that an artist, in order to be true to himself and his work, must be a free man or woman, and we are anxious to see emphasized the tremendous artistic talents we have available in this country.

I don't think that even our fellow citizens are perhaps as aware as they should be of the hundreds of thousands of devoted musicians, painters, architects, those who work to bring about changes in our cities, whose talents are just as important a part of the United States as any of our perhaps more publicized accomplishments.

So that we welcome you here to the White House--and most especially to welcome you, Maestro, and to tell you what a great honor it is to have you back in the White House. We are privileged to have Mrs. Nicholas Longworth here with us, who was here in 1904 when Casals played for Theodore Roosevelt--in this room. He also played for Queen Victoria in 1898.

So that we are most glad to have you here, not only because of your long and distinguished career in music but also because you have indicated and demonstrated in your own life what I said earlier, that an artist must be a free man.

We are delighted to have you here in the White House.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks of Welcome at the White House Concert by Pablo Casals", November 13, 1961. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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