Looking for Jacqueline Du Pré

Few days ago, while flipping through the last issue of Kinfolk magazine my eyes were attracted by some black and white photos of a woman cellist. It was Jacqueline Du Pré. I read the article, contemplated for a long a time the photos and searched online for a video of the Elgar Cello Concerto she performed under the leading of her beloved husband Daniel Barenboim. From the introduction my heart started to melt, I had a lump in my throat and got the chills. Jacqueline Du Pré lived her music, her instrument became a part of her own body. The way she gentle puts her head on it or relies on it is truly moving; sometimes her head and upper body bent over backwards in a sort of cathartic stretching to expel a note, a vibration.


The way she looks at Baremboim during the Concerto and how she smiles to him after the last note is truly genuine and pure. On internet there are few concert videos of her but also interviews. I would like to recommend the one made by Christopher Nupen seven years before she died in 1987 of multiple sclerosis at the age of 42. Look at her eyes, how they sparkle when she’s talking about her years playing cello, you see fire, emotions.


Being so gifted, talented, passionnated and being obliged to let it go because your body can’t do it anymore is, in my eyes, an absolute tragedy. The immoderation of Dyonisos in The Bacchae, the forbidden love in Phèdre are the illness that slowly but surely grows into your body and take over your sensation. How can you be satisfied teaching while what you want to do is to express yourself, explore more and more and make the cello sing, talk, shout, cry. How can you find peace when you are forced to give up on everything you’ve worked for so hard your entire life? How can you go through your day with an ardent heart and a stoic body?


I believe we are all extra-ordinary, we all have a special light and we may all do things in an unique way. Nevertheless there are, among us, shining and falling stars of whom the life is as a meteoric rise. Those are heroes; their passion, absolute dedication and freedom lead the way to many others.


From now on, there is a new shining star in my Milky Way and her name is Jacqueline Du Pré.


May you all have a very special day.



Words and photography all rights reserved Carole Rey




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