Jacqueline du Pré

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For actress Jacqueline Dupré, see Satan's Baby Doll.
Jacqueline du Pré
Jacquelinedupredavidoff.jpg
Jacqueline du Pré with the Davidov Stradivarius and Daniel Barenboim
Born Jacqueline Mary du Pré
(1945-01-26)26 January 1945
Oxford, England, UK
Died 19 October 1987(1987-10-19) (aged 42)
London, England, UK
Occupation Cellist
Years active 1961–1973
Spouse(s) Daniel Barenboim (1967–1987; her death)
Website
www.JacquelineduPre.net

Jacqueline Mary du Pré, OBE (26 January 1945 – 19 October 1987) was an English cellist. At a young age, she achieved enduring mainstream popularity unusual for a classical performer. Despite her short career, she is regarded as one of the more uniquely talented cellists of the second half of the twentieth century.

Du Pré is most famous for her iconic recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor, her interpretation of which has been described as "definitive" and "legendary".[1] Rostropovich is said to have removed the piece from his own repertoire after hearing du Pré's version.

Her career was cut short by multiple sclerosis, which forced her to stop performing at the age of 28. She battled the illness for many years, which ultimately resulted in an untimely death. Posthumously, she was the subject of a film entitled Hilary and Jackie (based on her siblings' memoir, A Genius in the Family) that was factually controversial and criticized for sensationalising her private life.

Early years, education[edit]

Du Pré was born in Oxford, England, the second child of Derek and Iris (née Greep) du Pré. Derek was born in Jersey, where his family had lived for generations. After working as an accountant at Lloyds Bank in St Helier and London, he became assistant editor and later editor of The Accountant. Iris was a talented concert pianist who taught at the Royal Academy of Music.[2]

At the age of four du Pré is said to have heard the sound of the cello on the radio and asked her mother for "one of those". She began with lessons from her mother, who composed little pieces accompanied by illustrations, before enrolling at the London Violoncello School at age five, studying with Alison Dalrymple. For her general education, du Pré was enrolled first at Commonweal Lodge in Purley, then at age 8 transferred to Croydon High School, an independent day school for girls in South Croydon.[3]:p. 31 In 1956, at the age of 11, she won the Guilhermina Suggia Award, and was granted renewal of the award each year through 1961.[3]:p. 50 The Suggia award paid for du Pré's tuition at the Guildhall School of Music in London, and for private lessons with the celebrated cellist William Pleeth.

In late 1958, the family moved to London, where Derek du Pré took the job of Secretary of the Institute of Cost and Works Accounting. In January, 1959, du Pré was enrolled in Queen’s College, where she fell behind in her schoolwork, and in December du Pré’s parents withdrew her from the school. This ended du Pré’s general education: she never took the GCE.[3]:pp. 44-46

From an early age, du Pré was entering and winning local music competitions alongside her sister, flautist Hilary du Pré. In 1959 she began appearing at children's and young musicians' concerts, including with fellow students at the Guildhall end-of-term concert in March, followed by an appearance on BBC Television, playing the Lalo Cello Concerto. In May she repeated the Lalo concerto with the BBC Welsh Orchestra in Cardiff, with an additional recording of the Haydn Cello Concerto at the BBC Lime Grove Studios with the Royal Philharmonic. In 1960 du Pré won the Gold Medal of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the same year participated in a Pablo Casals masterclass in Zermatt, Switzerland. Pleeth entered her in the Queen’s Prize competition for outstanding musicians under 30. The panel, chaired by Yehudi Menuhin, unanimously awarded du Pré the prize, and Menuhin subsequently invited her to play trios with him and his sister.[3]:pp. 52-53

Career[edit]

In March 1961, at the age of 16, du Pré made her formal début, at Wigmore Hall, London. She was accompanied by Ernest Lush, and played sonatas by Handel, Brahms, Debussy and de Falla, and a solo cello suite by Bach. She made her concerto début on 21 March 1962 at the Royal Festival Hall playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Rudolf Schwarz. In September, 1962, du Pré débuted at the Edinburgh Festival with Brahms' Second Cello Sonata, followed by débuts in Berlin in September and Paris in October with the Berlin Philharmonic, playing the Schumann Cello Concerto. After the Paris début, du Pré enrolled at the Conservatoire de Paris to study for six months with Paul Tortelier, the tuition paid by her final Suggia Award stipend, although she continued to refer to Pleeth as her primary teacher. At the end of 1962, the Daily Express named du Pré its Soloist of the Year, over Artur Rubinstein and John Ogdon.[3]:pp. 68-69

In 1963, du Pré performed at The Proms, playing the Elgar Concerto with Sir Malcolm Sargent. Her performance of the concerto proved so popular that she returned three years in succession to perform the work. At her 3 September 1964 Prom Concert, she performed the Elgar concerto as well as the world premiere of Priaulx Rainier's Cello Concerto. Du Pré became a favourite at the Proms, returning every year until 1969.

In 1965, at age 20, du Pré recorded the Elgar Concerto for EMI with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir John Barbirolli, which brought her international recognition. This recording has become a benchmark for the work, and one which has never been out of print since its release. Du Pré also performed the Elgar with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Antal Doráti for her United States début, at Carnegie Hall on 14 May 1965. In 1966 du Pré studied in Russia with Mstislav Rostropovich, who was so impressed with his pupil that at the end of his tutorship he declared her "the only cellist of the younger generation that could equal and overtake [his] own achievement."[4]

In 1968, at the suggestion of Ian Hunter, a composition was created by Alexander Goehr specifically for du Pré, Romanza for cello and orchestra, op.24, which she premiered at the Brighton Music Festival, with Barenboim conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra.[5]:pp. 281 – 282

In addition to those already mentioned, Du Pré performed with numerous orchestras throughout the world, including the London Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. She regularly performed with such conductors as Barbirolli, Sargent, Sir Adrian Boult, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein.

Du Pré primarily played on two Stradivarius cellos, one from 1673 and the so-called Davidov Stradivarius of 1712. Both instruments were gifts from her godmother, Ismena Holland. She performed with the 1673 Stradivarius from 1961 until 1964, when she acquired the Davidov. Many of her most famous recordings were made on this instrument, including the Elgar Concerto with Barbirolli, the Robert Schumann Cello Concerto with Barenboim and the two Brahms cello sonatas. From 1969 to 1970 she (like Casals before her) played on a Francesco Goffriller cello, and in 1970 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, using it for a second, live, recording of the Elgar Concerto, and her last studio recording, of Frédéric Chopin's Cello Sonata in G minor and César Franck's Violin Sonata in A arranged for cello, in December 1971.

Her friendship with musicians Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta and Pinchas Zukerman, and marriage to Daniel Barenboim led to many memorable chamber-music performances. In a book review for two biographies about the cellist, the former wife of Zukerman judged du Pré "one of the most stunningly gifted musicians of our time".[6] The 1969 performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London of the Schubert Piano Quintet in A major, "The Trout", was the basis of a film, The Trout, by Christopher Nupen. Nupen made other films featuring du Pré, including Jacqueline du Pré and the Elgar Cello Concerto, a documentary featuring a live performance of the Elgar; and The Ghost, with Barenboim and Zukerman in a performance of the "Ghost" Piano Trio in D major, by Beethoven.

Multiple sclerosis[edit]

In 1971, du Pré’s playing declined irreversibly as she began to lose sensitivity in her fingers and other parts of her body. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October 1973. Her last recording, of sonatas by Chopin and Franck (the latter originally for violin) was made in December 1971. She went on sabbatical from 1971 to 1972, and performed only rarely. She started performing again in 1973, but by then her condition had become severe. For her January tour of North America, some of the less-than-complimentary reviews were an indication that her condition had worsened except for brief moments when her playing was without noticeable problems. Her last London concerts were in February 1973, including the Elgar Concerto with Zubin Mehta and the New Philharmonia Orchestra.

Her last public concerts took place in New York in February 1973: four performances of the Brahms Double Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman and Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic were scheduled. Du Pré recalled that she had problems judging the weight of the bow, and just opening the cello case had become difficult. As she had lost sensation in her fingers, she had to coordinate her fingering visually. She played only three of the four concerts, cancelling the last, in which Isaac Stern took her place on the programme with Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.

Du Pré died in London on 19 October 1987 at 42, and is buried in Golders Green Jewish Cemetery.

The Vuitton Foundation purchased her Davidov Stradivarius for just over £1 million, and made it available on loan to Yo-Yo Ma. Russian cellist Nina Kotova now owns the 1673 Stradivarius, named by Lynn Harrell the Du Pré Stradivarius in tribute.[7] Her 1970 Peresson cello is currently on loan to cellist Kyril Zlotnikov of the Jerusalem Quartet.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Du Pré met pianist Daniel Barenboim on New Year's Eve 1966. Shortly after the end of the Six-Day War, she cancelled all her existing engagements (antagonising promoters)[9] and they flew to Jerusalem. She converted to Judaism, and they were married on 15 June 1967[10] at the Western Wall.[11] Du Pré’s sister Hilary married conductor Christopher "Kiffer" Finzi, and the couple had four children.

The posthumous memoir A Genius in the Family by Jacqueline's siblings Hilary and Piers (later renamed Hilary and Jackie), published well after her death, alleges that she had an extramarital affair with "Kiffer" Finzi, her brother-in-law, from 1971 to 1972 when she was visiting Hilary's family. Hilary's claims about the event are, however, rejected as factually faulty by Clare Finzi, the daughter of "Kiffer" and Hilary. The memoir's content in general remains factually unsupported and disputed, and contains significant omissions.[11] The memoir's actual description of events is extremely ambiguous, and describes Jacqueline's sudden request for sexual 'therapy sessions' as occurring within a period of extreme mental depression. The unusual depression (deemed an early symptom of multiple sclerosis)[12] also coincided with a long period in which Finzi took the initiative in verbally comforting Jacqueline. Hilary claims that she was helping her sister though her mental depression. She also argues, however, that she was victimised by her sister's demands, and concludes that her sister had a desire for her husband.[13] The memoir's claims are rejected by Hilary's daughter, Clare Finzi, who alleges that her father was a serial adulterer who had seduced her emotionally vulnerable aunt in a time of great need to gratify his own ego.

The memoir disseminated the general claim of an extramarital affair despite ambiguity over its possible psychological basis. The posthumous allegation of an "affair", combined with Hilary's claim to be victimised, inevitably generated a controversy over Jacqueline du Pré's personal life.[14] The film dramatisation Hilary and Jackie, supported by Hilary Finzi, changes the story line of the memoir on several key factual points,[12] and has been criticised by some for imposing a scandal on Jacqueline's personal life.[15]

Controversial book and film[edit]

The posthumous memoir A Genius in the Family by Hilary and Piers du Pré later became the subject of the 1998 film adaptation Hilary and Jackie, directed by Anand Tucker, that in turn promoted the popularity of the memoir. Both the book and film adaptation have been criticised in various ways for groundlessly scandalising Jacqueline du Pré's personal life, although the general claim of an affair was later spread by others. Clare Finzi, Hilary's daughter, charged that the film was a "gross misinterpretation which I cannot let go unchallenged."[15] The film adaptation portrays Jacqueline from Hilary's hostile point of view before moving to a fictional, conjured-up point of view from her own perspective. The film adaptation is factually incorrect and also diverges from the book's account of events, portraying Jacqueline as being predatory and actively planning to seduce her sister's husband.[12] The director of the film, Anand Tucker, defends the film's public exposure of an alleged affair by arguing that extant alternatives amount to canonisation or hagiography, and that he was "deeply moved [by] Hilary's sacrifice". The film and book were widely defended holistically, in terms of how deeply moving the entire story was despite fictional content regarding aspects of Jacqueline's personality and how events actually transpired.[16]

The scope of both film and memoir were compromised by the facts that Hilary did not maintain continuous contact with Jacqueline after childhood, and that Jacqueline chose to surround herself with friends rather than siblings as death approached. Writing in The Guardian, however, Hilary defended the film's depiction of events and her sister's personality, arguing that it accurately portrayed her darker side, the "MS side"; and in The New Yorker she argued that detractors simply "want to look only at the pieces of Jackie's life they [are ready to] accept".[17][18] According to Hilary, "[t]he ravages of MS changed Jackie's personality. The Jackie I knew and loved died years before her actual death in 1987, but to be truthful I had to show the MS side of her", thus directly contradicting the testimony of others such as Christopher Nupen, who hold that Jacqueline's struggle with multiple sclerosis was more complex, with long periods of sustained normality even to the very end.[19]

Honours and awards[edit]

Du Pré received several fellowships from music academies and honorary doctorate degrees universities for her outstanding contributions to music in general and her instrument in particular. In 1956, at the age of 11, she was the second recipient (after Rohan de Saram in 1955) of the prestigious Guilhermina Suggia Award, and remains the youngest recipient. In 1960, she won the Gold Medal of the Guildhall School of Music in London and the Queen's Prize for British musicians. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1976 New Year Honours.[20] At the 1977 BRIT Awards, she won the award for the best classical soloist album of the past 25 years for Elgar's Cello Concerto.[citation needed]

After her death, a rose cultivar named after her received the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.[21] She was made an honorary fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford, whose music building bears her name.

In 2012, she was voted into the first Gramophone Hall of Fame.[22]

Selected discography[edit]

On DVD

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ "How Elgar came to Write the Concerto". The Elgar Society. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  2. ^ Jose Sanchez-Penzo (6 June 2005). "Jacqueline du Pré Homage Page". jose-sanchez-penzo. Retrieved 29 April 2008. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Easton, Carol (2000). Jacqueline du Pré: A Biography. Cambridge: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80976-1. 
  4. ^ Elizabeth Wilson (February 2005). "Jacqueline du Pré: A 60th year Anniversary celebration". BBC Music Magazine. pp. 22–26. Retrieved 21 May 2007. 
  5. ^ Wilson, Elizabeth (1999). Jacqueline du Pré: her life, her music, her legend. New York: Arcade. 
  6. ^ Heartstrings. (Zukerman, Eugenia). Washington Post, 25 April 1999. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  7. ^ Andy McSmith (4 April 2007). "Why do Stradivarius violins fetch so much, and are they worth it?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 27 May 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2007. 
  8. ^ "Kyril Zlotnikov". Cellist.nl. Retrieved 30 June 2007. 
  9. ^ Laurie Strachan, "Tragically unresonant", Weekend Australian, 6–7 February 1999
  10. ^ Jacqueline DuPré Biography
  11. ^ a b Ian Phillips (28 May 1999). "Classical: Defending the real Jackie". The Independent. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c James R. Oestreich (3 January 1999). "Film: One Sister's Betrayal Of Memory, and of Art". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  13. ^ Du Pré, Piers; Du Pré, Hilary (1996). A Genius in the Family: An intimate memoir of Jacqueline du Pré. London: Heinemann. ISBN 0-434-00344-1. 
  14. ^ Daniel S. Levy (18 January 1999). "Requiems for Jackie". Time Magazine. Retrieved 15 June 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Jay Nordlinger (22 February 1999). "Music: Twisted Sister – Review". The National Review. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  16. ^ David Lister (1 January 1999). "Music world in discord as film depicts du Pre the icon as selfish seductress". The Independent. Retrieved 29 July 2012. 
  17. ^ Staff writers (21 January 1999). "The Truth About Our Wonderful Sister Jackie". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2008. 
  18. ^ Jay Fielden (8 February 1999). "The Talk of the Town, "The Pictures"". The New Yorker. Retrieved 29 April 2008. 
  19. ^ Wordsworth (Ed.), William (1983). Jacqueline du Pré: Impressions. Granada Publishing. pp. 110–116. ISBN 0814908675. 
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46777. p. 10. 30 December 1975. Retrieved 24 August 2009.
  21. ^ "Rosa Jacqueline du Pré (Harwanna) AGM". The Royal Horticultural Society. July 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2008. 
  22. ^ "Jacqueline du Pré (cellist)". Gramophone. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
Sources
  • Wilson, Elizabeth A. M. (1999). Jacqueline du Pré: Her Life, Her Music, Her Legend. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-20017-6. 
  • Easton, Carol (2000). Jacqueline du Pré: A Biography. Cambridge: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-80976-1. 
  • Du Pré, Piers; du Pré, Hilary (1997). A Genius in the Family: An Intimate Memoir of Jacqueline du Pré. London: Sinclair-Stevenson. ISBN 1-85619-753-0. 

External links[edit]