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Welcome to the

Jacqueline du Pré

Homage Page

by José Sánchez-Penzo

Her Gravestone

Ten years ago Jacqueline du Pré died. The music world lost one of its most outstanding talents.

19 October 1997

Photo by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany

A Genius in the Family

by Hilary and Piers du Pré

A short review:

This is not just another biography, and fans of Jacqueline du Pré, looking for an insight into the person behind the artist, will find much. Piers and Hilary (Jacqueline's siblings) bring the reader inside the family du Pré and share their most intimate moments as a family. These authors hold nothing back and the picture they paint of the entire family, not just Jacqueline, is heart warming one moment and heart breaking the next.

I am a Jacqueline du Pré admirer. Anyone who has ever heard her play the cello must admire her. This book could tarnish ones image of Jacqueline du Pré. It did not have that effect on me. It is not a glossy account of Jacqueline's rise to success punctuated by her ultimate death from MS. There are family secrets which you may find painful to read. Think of how painful they must have been to write. Think of how painful they must have been to experience.

This is the story of a family. A real family facing problems much the same as other families. The family du Pré is not the typical family however, because they have, A Genius in the Family.

Piers and Hilary put their heart and souls into this book. You are touched by their honesty and their tenderness. It is so intimate that you cannot help but feel their feelings right along with them. There are funny stories from their childhood. There are sad stories of their parents aging. There are the accounts, some of which you have already heard, of Jackie. Very personal, very sad.

Michael Hartgraves
February 17, 1998

One Week with Jacqueline Du Pré

By John Krakenberger

It must have been in the early sixties when I was visiting London on other business, that I met Jackie. She was introduced to me by the violinist Alberto Lysy (Menuhin's side-kick during a number of years), who lived in London at that time, and with whom I had had contact in Buenos Aires where we both studied our respective instruments, in the forties and fifties. I do remember however that it was before she went to study with Rostropovich in Russia. She talked about her plans to go there.

Since violists are always in short supply, Alberto used my presence to organise chamber music soirées at his home. We played quintets and sextets, and one afternoon we went through the whole book of Beethoven's string-trios, where I had quite a hard time to follow, particularly in the Presto of op 9 Nº1. I remember, however, that they were quite satisfied with me, and I still feel good about it today. This led to a meeting with Jackie at her parent's house in Curzon Street, where she had an attic for herself and where we spent a long afternoon checking our respective phrasing of the Bach Suites for Cello, me on the viola and she on the cello.

I was twenty years her senior and we got along splendidly. I thought that at that time she was a little uneasy with her well-developed body, maybe a little too hefty for her taste...what the Germans mockingly call "Vollschlank". But this uneasiness was transformed miraculously the moment she sat down behind her cello. An extraordinary vitality surged from all her movements, and the cello was literally assaulted with verve, fire, and passion.

In many places we can read that besides Pleeth, Tortelier and Rostropovich she also studied with Casals. This is not completely correct. She did go to Zermatt and met Casals but the chemistry did not work and they did not get along too well. There is a wonderful story circulating on their first meeting. Everybody knows about Casals' gruffness, his typical Catalan peasant demeanour, and his dislike of English musicians, which he expressed frequently. Therefore when it was announced to him that an English cello-prodigy was going to work with him, he frowned and expressed his misgivings. The afternoon their first meeting was scheduled, Jackie was warming up next door to the room where Casals was staying with Maurice Eisenberg, his assistant, and some other visitors. He suddenly cocked his ears and said: "An English cellist, you say?" "Yes, maestro, indeed". "What did you say her name was?" "Jacqueline Du Pré, maestro" was the reply. "Well, didn't I say so from the start? English indeed!" I cannot remember who told me the story, but it could perfectly well be true.

In the early seventies, when I lived in Geneva, I met Daniel Barenboim after one of his concerts there. Young Barenboim lived at my house in Lima, Perú, when he was sent on tour for the first time without being accompanied by his father. We therefore knew each other well - we even had made music together. He had been married to Jackie for several years. I told him that I had met her in London, and that we got along well. I did not understand his reaction. It was a sonorous "You too!!". Now I am in doubt with all that was said and gossiped, which did not make any sense at all to me... and still doesn't.

The fact remains that this was an extraordinary creature - I still get moved when I hear the live recording of the Elgar made with the Chicago Orchestra, Barenboim conducting. I don't know any other recording where the aliveness of a soloist comes over so strongly and hypnotises the listener in such a powerful way. I can visualise her playing, her power and the unique radiation she produced. Unforgettable!

Jacqueline du Pré

English Cellist

Foto by Christian Steiner
Source: EMI Records Ltd.
Courtesy of Miguel Muelle


  1. Miguel Muelle: Jacqueline du Pré
    Miguel Muelle's web site dedicated to the untimely died 'greatest talent to ever play the cello'. He pays tribut with a brief survey of her life, which is illustrated with pictures. It is divided in following sections:
    • Talent, Ability & Heart
    • A Musical Life
    • A Tradition of Artistic Excellence
    • A Legacy of Recordings
  2. Christopher Finezeo: Jacqueline du Pré
    Christopher Finezeo's web site dedicated to 'one of the finest performing musicians England has produced in the last 300 hundred years'.


  1. Alain Paris:
    Lexikon der Interpreten klassischer Musik im 20. Jahrhundert"
    1992, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag / Baerenreiter Verlag
  2. Munzinger-Archiv/Internat. Biograph. Archiv 50/87
    K 012713-2 Du-WE (fr. ABA)
  3. Booklet of: Favourite Cello Concertos (EMI CMS 7 63283 2)
  4. Interview with Lynn Harrell for a Danish radio station.
  5. Daniel Barenboim: Musik - Mein Leben
    1994, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Reinbeck bei Hamburg
  6. New York Times, April 19th 1991, Obituary of Sergio Peresson
  7. Mail from J. du Pré's relatives.
  8. The Strad, February 1997, p 119
  9. Hilary du Pré & Piers du Pré:
    A Genius in the Family
    1997, Chatto & Windus, London
  10. Miguel Muelle: JACQUELINE DU PRÉ Recordings on CD

Picture Gallery:

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
5A Pilgrims Lane, Hampstead, where she lived 1970-75.

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
The Lindo Wing of St Mary´s Hospital, Paddington, where she got the diagnosis MS, in Oct 1973.

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
36/38 Chepstow Villas, Notting Hill, where she lived from 1983 and died here Oct 19, 1987. It was "The Black Monday" in more than one way.

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
Golders Green´s Jewish Cemetery, Oct 19, 1997. Please note the Rose "Jacqueline du Pré" at the foot of the grave.


`I've never been a career deamon. I love playing cello, playing to people, but I've never wanted to do it every day and every hour of my life.'

`I began to play it and to love it and I really loved it. ... When I put the bow on the strings, it made a beautiful sound. ... I got a little older ... and wanted to go to play with other children as any normal child would, but practicing was never too much an effort and when I came to Bill Pleeth then I became very studious and worked extremly hard.'

`I played him the "Swan" ... He took me as his pupil and I was very very happy, because I was so small and he was a great cellist. Anyway, from there on we had an enormously relationship for 7 years. He was a marvellous teacher and formed completly the spine of my cello play'

Jacqueline du Pré

Film: "Remembering Jacqueline du Pré" by Christopher Nupen.
(c) 1994, Allegro Films London

`She is the most outstanding cellistic and musical talent I have met so far, to which she adds incredible maturity of mind. I am of the opinion that she will have a great career and deserves every help to this end'

William Pleeth
in a letter of recommendation for the Suggia Awards when Jacqueline was ten years old `She played a simple piece very well but there was nothing flashy about her. At the time she was not an outstanding genius, but there was something that came through and you knew that there was a vast talent that could flower at a tremendous speed once it was awakened. My first impression was of a simple nice child playing with a very nice sound. No fireworks. It was something you detected, and possibly because of the deep sincerity, she was probably not aware of it at the time. When you first hear these gifted youngsters you either get something that is innocent and bland or something which is pregnant. With Jackie it was pregnant. It was just a case of opening a few doors.'

`She was always a joy to teach. She had such a quick understanding, and even if she didn't understand at that moment, she did eventually. It was a kind of animal magic. As one talked to her you could see the understanding and the physical coming together. It was quite remarkable.'

William Pleeth

`She was the ideal recording artist, undemanding, understanding of other people's problems and with no outbursts of what is called "temperament"....For the engineers she was the perfect artist who never complained, however long it took to get the right sound through the microphones. For me, the all-too-brief six years in which we worked together are a golden memory of spontaneous, unaffected, joyous music-making.'

Suvi Raj Grubb,
her recording producer

`I find I adore words. Never having had to use them to any great extent, I am finding beautiful new things about speech I never knew existed. Recently I had to make a reading from the Old Testament for the Branch of the MS Society, of which I am a patron. I found that everything is the same as in a musical performance. the psychological emphasis, the structure and timing is all the same. I am also reading poetry for the first time in my life and I love it so much.'

Jacqueline du Pré,
after she could no longer play

The Sunset Touch: Jacqueline du Pré
from "The Great Cellists" by Margaret Campbell
Trafalgar Square Publishing, North Pomfret, Vermont

`Jacqueline du Pré belongs, like Pablo Casals, Rostropowitsch and Tortelier, to the cellists who could make "sing" their instrument. She mastered all technical details easily. Her additional strengths were passionate feeling, rhythmical fire, breath-taking drive.'

Siegfried Helm

Munzinger-Archiv/Internat. Biograph. Archiv 50/87
K 012713-2 Du-WE (fr. ABA)

The Peresson Cello:

In 1970 Pinchas Zukerman performed a concert on a Peresson instrument he had since that afternoon. Barenboim, who was conducting, was so impressed with the sound that he ordered one for his wife Jacqueline.

`When I told people who I was making it for, they stared at me in amazement. They constantly reminded me that Jackie had the "Davidoff" Strad and a Gofriller. What on earth did she want with a Peresson?'

Sergio Peresson

A few months after having played it, she wrote to Peresson:

`The cello is beautiful. Everyone has fallen in love with it.'

Jacqueline du Pré

From this time onwards she played this instrument constantly until the end of her career. The recordings of the Franck sonatas and the Chopin sonatas were made with it, as well as the live recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim in November 1970.

Sergio Peresson
Margaret Campbell pays tribute to Sergio Peresson
The Strad, July 1991, p 626

Even more wonderful than having been banished in the celestial sphere like Andromeda or Venus, this star, untimely died, will remain for ever among us on earth. Not only on her recordings but also as a flower. As an ivory white rose bearing her name:

Jacqueline du Pré rose
R. 'Jacqueline du Pré' (R. 'Harwana') belongs to the group of the shrub roses. The height can reach 2 m and the width 1.5 m. Blooming from summer until autum she has cup shaped, ivory colored flowers of around 10 cm diameter with notched petals and red stamens giving a smell of nutmeg.

Enzyklopädie der Garten und Zimmerpflanzen.
Orbis Verlag, 1994.

Courtesy of
S. Andrew Schulman


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