Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jacqueline du Pré

Jacqueline Mary du Pré (1945-1987) was a British cellist, today acknowledged as one of the greatest exponents of the instrument.

Born in Oxford, England, on 26 January 1945, Jacqueline du Pré was the second child of Derek du Pré, an accountant, and pianist Iris du Pré. At age four du Pré heard the sound of the cello on the radio and asked her mother for "one of those." She started with lessons from her mother, who composed little pieces accompanied by illustrations, before beginning study at the London Violoncello School at age five. Before long she was entering and winning local music competitions alongside her sister, flautist Hilary du Pré. Du Pré’s main teacher, from 1955 to 1961, was the celebrated cellist William Pleeth. Subsequently she also participated in a Pablo Casals masterclass in Zermatt, Switzerland in 1960, as well as short-term studies with Paul Tortelier in Paris in 1962, and with Mstislav Rostropovich in Russia in 1966. So impressed was the legendary Rostropovich with his young pupil that at the end of her study with him, he declared her "the only cellist of the younger generation that could equal and overtake his own achievement."

Du Pré primarily played two Stradivarius cellos, the instrument of 1673, and the 1712 Davydov Stradivarius. Both instruments were gifts from her godmother, Ismena Holland. She performed with the 1673 Stradivarius from 1961 until 1964 when she acquired the Davydov. Many of her most famous recordings were made on this instrument including the Elgar Concerto with Barbirolli, the Schumann Cello Concerto with Barenboim and the two Brahms Cello Sonatas.

rom 1969 to 1970 du Pré played a Francesco Goffriller cello, and in 1970 she acquired a modern instrument from the Philadelphia violin maker Sergio Peresson. It was the Peresson cello that du Pré played for the remainder of her career until 1973, including a second, live recording of the Elgar Concerto, and her last studio recording in 1971 of the sonatas by Frederic Chopin and César Franck.

Jacqueline du Pré met pianist Daniel Barenboim on New Year's eve in 1966. They married in June 1967; some commentators have compared this musical marriage to that of Clara and Robert Schumann. This was evidenced by the many performances of du Pré with Barenboim as either a pianist or orchestral conductor.

Du Pré’s sister Hilary was married to conductor Christopher "Kiffer" Finzi, with whom Jacqueline had an affair from 1971 to 1972. According to Hilary and her brother Piers in their book, A Genius in the Family, which was made into the film Hilary and Jackie, the affair was conducted with Hilary's consent as a way of helping Jacqueline through a nervous breakdown.
In 1971, Jacqueline du Pré’s playing began an irreversible decline when she began to lose sensitivity in her fingers, as well as in other parts of her body.

She took a sabbatical in 1971 until 1972, recording her last studio album of sonatas by Chopin and Franck in December 1971. Although she did perform during her sabbatical, they were very rare occurrences.

In 1973 du Pré resumed her concert activities, but by this time, the symptoms had become severe. In January 1973 she toured North America and some of the concert reviews from that period were less than complimentary. It was an indication that her condition had worsened, although there were moments of brief respite from the symptoms, during which she played without noticeable problems. She performed the Elgar Concerto for her last London concerts in February 1973 with Zubin Mehta and the New Philharmonia Orchestra.

Her last public concerts were in New York in February 1973, where she was scheduled for four performances of the Brahms Double Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman, and Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic. Du Pré later recalled that she had problems judging the weight of the bow, and even opening the cello case had become difficult. As she had lost sensation in her fingers, she had to rely visually, to know where she had to play on the fingerboard.

Although she managed three of the four dates, she canceled the last performance. Isaac Stern stepped in to replace du Pré, performing the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

In October 1973, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the disease that caused her health to deteriorate until her death in London on October 19, 1987, at age 42.

She left her Davydov Stradivarius to Yo-Yo Ma, while Lynn Harrell acquired the 1673 Stradivarius naming it the du Pré Stradivarius as a tribute. The 1970 Peresson cello is currently on loan to Kyril Zlotnikov, cellist of the Jerusalem Quartet.

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major
3. Allegro molto
Cello Jackueline du Pre
English Chamber Orchestra
Daniel Barenboim
1.57 Mb 6:42 Mins

Source: Wikipedia
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