Today I continue with the second part of the series, dedicated to the British cellist Jacqueline du Pre.
She was born in 1945 and considered one of the best cellists ever.
Her life was cust short by multiple sclerosis.
Jacqueline du Prι learned to play the cello from her mother Iris Greep, a piano teacher at the Royal Academy. Jacqueline was performing in BBC concerts when she was only twelve years old. Her recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of the Elgar Concerto in 1961 made her internationally famous. She played a Stradivarius from 1712 called “The Davidoff” that was given to her by an admirer. On 14 May 1965 she debuted in the United States by playing the Elgar Concerto at the Carnegie Hall in New York.
‘She was immediately acclaimed for her instinctive feeling for style and breadth of understanding as well as technical proficiency,” Noel Goodwin wrote in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. When Mr. Rostropovich first heard her play, he remarked that he had found somebody to carry on his work.
Arthur Rubinstein, Itzak Perlman, Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline du Pre.
During Christmas 1966 she met Daniel Barenboim and she converted to judaism and married him the next year. They worked together very succesfully, Barenboim accompanying her on piano or conducting the orchestra. Often compared with Robert and Clara Schumann, they were admired for their energy, musicality and youthful glamour.
Daniel Barenboim and Jacqueline du Pre.
Mr. Barenboim was once asked what it was like to accompany his wife. ”Difficult,” he replied. ”It doesn’t dawn on her sometimes that we mortals have difficulties in following her.” In the next few years, they performed throughout the world, both separately and as a duo.
The first signs of Miss du Pre’s illness appeared when she was 26 years old and at the height of her fame. ”My hands no longer worked,” she recalled in 1978. ”I simply couldn’t feel the strings.” She withdrew from concertizing for one year, then returned, to mixed reviews. The diagnosis of multiple sclerosis followed shortly, and Miss du Pre retired.
Throughout her illness, Miss du Pre remained sanguine about the future. ”Nobody knows if I’ll ever regain mobility,” she said in 1978. ”It could be that next week I’ll find myself walking down the road. I believe in realistic optimism but not wishful thinking.”
Jacqueline’s brother Piers and sisters Hilary wrote a book “A genious in the Family” which chronicles the life and career of their sister. The film “Hilary and Jackie” was based on the book. Both are considered controversial. Hilary claims that she consented to her husband Christopher Finzi having an affair with JAcqueline in the late stage of her illness in order to combfort her anxiety.
Daniel Barenboim and artists who knew them both bitterly and publicly confronted this version of events. Hilary’s daughter with Christopher also contradicts her mother saying her father was a violent sadist who had multiple affairs and abused Jacqueline while she was in a vulnerable, emotional state.
Jacqueline du Pre died in 1987.