J – A Mosaic of a Cellist – Part 2

An article about J.

J – A Mosaic of a Cellist – Part 2

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In the interviews seen in the film of her life [1], people in her immediate circle, many of them fellow artists, gave their impressions of Jacqueline as a person and musician.  The image her friends portray is strangely moving in the depth of its humanity, its refined beauty, and probably not unexpectedly, they do not focus on the tragedy of her illness, but on her ever present positivity.  The testimonies of these people paint the image of a great soul expressing itself through the medium of music, with which they were fortunate enough to share a little time.  None were unmoved or ungrateful at having known her.

We do not know what transpired in the inner being of Jacqueline, but we do see the impact she had on the people around her.  Thus we are reminded of the same activity of the new soul; through its actions it reflects the Light of the Gnosis on all those around it. Jacqueline was a musician, a cellist, and hence her essence, her soul, resonated through the creations she expressed through her instrument.  Her personality was also closely linked to this.  She was intimately connected to her music, and her ability to live in the moment, create in the moment, express and feel in the moment, no matter what piece of music she chose, was always present in her.

Inspiration had its birth in her soul, was then translated by her personality through the instrument, the cello, and then emerged as the music of her performances, filling the sphere of her presence.  In all those elements we can also recognize our task as a soul being.  The details of Jacqueline’s life, as seen in her biography, are only the décor, the stage upon which the soul enacts its task.  There is much that can be learnt from a soul such as that of Jacqueline du Pré.


Biography: some elements

Jacqueline du Pré (Oxford, January 26, 1945 – London, October 19, 1987) was a British classical cellist.

In 1960 she took part in Pablo Casals masterclasses in Zermatt. In 1962 she took some short courses with Paul Tortelier in Paris. In 1966 she was taught by Mstislav Rostropovich in Russia for several months.

As a 16-year-old, Jacqueline gave her first concert at the Wigmore Hall in London. A year later she played Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Rudolf Schwarz.

In December 1966, Jacqueline met the pianist, later also conductor, Daniel Barenboim. She passed from the Anglican Church to Judaism for him. On June 15, 1967, they were married at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

In 1971, Du Pré began to lose feeling in her fingers and other parts of her body. She recorded her last studio LP of Chopin and Franck sonatas in December of that year. She gave her last concerts in London in February 1973 with Elgar’s concert with the New Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta. In October 1973, when she was 28 years old, it was determined that she was suffering from the incurable condition multiple sclerosis.

On October 19, 1987, Jacqueline du Pré died of acute pneumonia, aged 42. She is buried in the Jewish cemetery of Golders Green.


[1]  Who was Jacqueline du Pré? | by AllegroFilms – YouTube , directed by Christopher Nupen for Allegro Films

Jacqueline du Pré: previously unpublished intimate interview – YouTube , Allegro Films.


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Date: February 7, 2021
Author: Eric Op 't Eynde (Belgium)
Photo: Unsplash CCO

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