Friday, November 7, 2008

Jacqueline du Pre - The Unspeakable Tragedy

Imagine a seventeen - year - old girl, in a concert in London, becoming established as a leading 'cellist, and arguably considered the foremost interpreter of the great ' Cello Concerto by Edward Elgar.
Imagine that same high-spirited young lady, beset by demons within her, struggling with intense conflicts which confused the measurement of her very identity.
From around age five to this concert, which put her on the world stage, the 'cello was the center of her universe. It is an admirable thing to note that her parents did see to it, to the best of their efforts, that her childhood was one of balance and normality in issues of social import.
Her sister, Hilary, was also a gifted young musician, a flutist; however, Jacqueline's meteoric ascent to world fame became the overriding family reality.
Her husband, the brilliant pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim; one of the most eminent musicians to have come out of South America, collaborated with her, both as a performer and conductor. Their recording of the Elgar Concerto is, fortunately, available. It remains one of the most memorable performances on record, and is the definitive view of that masterpiece.
Fortunately for the world of music, Jacqueline did indeed make several recordings before the unspeakable tragedy struck.
In her late twenties, the scourge called Muscular Dystrophy began to appear, and the inevitable disaster slowly but steadily took away the illimitable gifts that were given her.
In 1987, in the prime of her time, age 42, Jacqeline du Pre passed away, and a career of possibly unprecedented promise was gone.
This writer, with all of the experience contained, both as a listener and musician, considers the magical sounds that this young woman created on the instrument to be the most moving in his memory, what with the likes of a Casals, or a Piatigorsky, or a Rostropovich preceding her.
There were many personal issues in her life, which the reader can uncover easily, that could have impacted her genius; however, like Beethoven, also the companion of personal tragedy,the music prevails.



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