Hilary du Pré

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Hilary Du Pré
Born Hilary A Du Pré
June 1942[1]
Hertfordshire, England
Occupation musician
Spouse(s) Christopher Finzi

Hilary du Pré is a British flutist and memoirist best known for her co-authorship of the book A Genius in the Family and contributions to the film Hilary and Jackie, both of which relate the story of her sister, cellist Jacqueline du Pré.

Du Pré is married to conductor Christopher "Kiffer" Finzi. They have four children together.

Early life and education[edit]

Hilary du Pré was born in Hertfordshire, the daughter of Iris Greep and Derek du Pré. She has a brother Piers and a sister, Jacqueline.[2]

She revealed a natural affinity for music at an early age, but was overshadowed by the talents of her younger sister Jackie, a celebrated cellist whose life and career was cut short by multiple sclerosis.

Hilary married Christopher Finzi and lived with him in the country with their family. Allegedly with his wife's consent, Finzi had a romantic affair with his ailing sister-in-law, who was exhibiting suicidal behaviour as the result of a nervous breakdown.

During the 1970s she taught music and the flute at Downe House School, Cold Ash, Newbury.

In her 1997 memoir A Genius in the Family, co-written with her brother Piers, du Pré chronicled the complex relationship, both tortured and deeply loving, which she had with her sister. She claimed to have agreed to the affair because she wanted Jackie to experience the stable family life the younger woman envied. This version of events has been contradicted by a number of sources, including Hilary's daughter with Christopher.[3] She said that her father had more than one affair and exhibited abusive behaviour towards Jacqueline du Pré while she was in a vulnerable, emotional state.

Film and book[edit]

Anand Tucker's controversial 1998 film Hilary and Jackie is based on A Genius in the Family, and features Emily Watson as Jacqueline and Rachel Griffiths as Hilary. Although the film was a critical and box-office success, and received several Academy Award nominations, it ignited a furor, especially in London, center of du Pre's activities. A group of her closest colleagues (including fellow cellists Mstislav Rostropovich and Julian Lloyd Webber) sent a bristling letter to The Times. Clare Finzi, Hilary's daughter, charged that the film was a "gross misinterpretation, which I cannot let go unchallenged." Daniel Barenboim – who has always teetered on the edge of villainy in du Pré-revering quarters—said, "Couldn't they have waited until I was dead?".[4]

Hilary, Jackie's sister, and co-author of the book strongly defends both the book and the film, writing, in The Guardian: "At first I could not understand why people didn't believe my story because I had set out to tell the whole truth. When you tell someone the truth about your family, you don't expect them to turn around and say that it's bunkum. But I knew that Jackie would have respected what I had done. If I had gone for half-measures, she would have torn it up. She would have wanted the complete story to be told.".[5] The New Yorker reported her as saying, "When you love someone, you love the whole of them. Those who are against the film want to look only at the pieces of Jackie's life that they accept. I don't think the film has taken any liberties at all. Jackie would have absolutely loved it."[6]


  1. ^ Hilary birth record accessed 26 May 2015
  2. ^ du Pré Family biography accessed 26 May 2015
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ [2][dead link]
  5. ^ "The truth about our wonderful sister Jackie". The Guardian. Retrieved on 28 July 2011.
  6. ^ Fielden, Jay. (7 January 2009) "The Talk of the Town: The Pictures". The New Yorker. Retrieved on 28 July 2011.