Jacqueline du Pré

Jacqueline du PréOn this day in 1945, the great cellist Jacqueline du Pré was born. In her lifetime, she was hugely popular. And as is usual with classical music stars, that also meant that she was just ridiculously good. There is quite a lot of her work online. You could do worse than spend the evening listening to her. From my standpoint, she was rather too interested in the Romantic period. Just the same, her intense style fits the period well.

She had a tragic life. She only performed up the age of 28 — and her last recording was at the age of 26. At that time, she started to lose sensitivity in her fingers. In 1973, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She lived another 14 years, but without being able to play. That’s not just publicly; she couldn’t play at all. That strikes me as a kind of hell on earth — to have such an intimate relationship with an instrument and yet be estranged from it. If there is a god, she is evil and certainly not worthy of worship.

Here is du Pré playing Brahms’ Cello Sonata Op 99 with her husband on piano. I had to put it together in a playlist, because there isn’t a single video. But it cuts at the right time. It is very good. You should listen to it:

Happy birthday Jacqueline du Pré!

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