Jacqueline Du Pré

British cellist (1945, Oxford – 1987, London)

Compared to the French classical violinist Ginette Neveu by Paul Tortelier, Jacqueline Du Pré enjoyed a brilliant career, which was sadly cut short by sickness when she was only 27.

Jacqueline Du Pré studied cello at the Guildhall School of Music in London with William Pleeth, then in Paris with Paul Tortelier, in Switzerland with Pablo Casals and finally in Moscow with Mstislav Rostropovich. She made her formal debut in 1961 at Wigmore Hall in London, playing on a Stradivarius cello from 1673, which was an anonymous gift she received three weeks prior to the concert. During the following years, she often performed with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and under the direction of Sir Malcolm Sargent, also regularly playing internationally. She was part of many chamber music performances with violinist Pinchas Zukerman and pianist Daniel Barenboim, whom she married in 1967 after converting to Judaism. With him, she recorded Beethoven's Five Cello Sonatas "Magic Flute" and "Judas Maccabaeus" Variations as well as sonatas by Brahms. At the same time, she also recorded two cello concertos by Haydn and Elgar, directed by her husband Daniel Barenboim and then Sir John Barbirolli. For this recording, she played on a Davidov Stradivarius of 1712, a gift from an admirer. She later donated this instrument to Yo-Yo Ma.

Multiple sclerosis forced her to stop performing at the age of 27. She then dedicated herself to teaching and renounced the stage. She died in London on 19 October 1987.

6 landmark dates in the life of Jacqueline Du Pré:

1962: Performed the Elgar Concerto at the Royal Festival Hall.

1967: Du Pré married pianist Barenboim.

1968: Premiered Romanza for cello and orchestra by Alexander Goehr, which was created specifically for her.

1971: Stopped performing and started working as a teacher.

1976: Was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire

1980: Was elected "Musician of the Year"

Biography from Radio France’s document database, July 2014