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Jacqueline Du Pre: Her Life, Her Music, Her Legend

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Jacqueline du Pre's talent fascinates because it reminds us that we are not all created equal. She was beauty and genius, as well as tragedy, personified. At twenty-seven, and at the pinnacle of a brilliant career, the unthinkable occurred: she was felled by multiple sclerosis.Elizabeth Wilson traces du Pre's life from the earliest stages of her career to her marriage to p Jacqueline du Pre's talent fascinates because it reminds us that we are not all created equal. She was beauty and genius, as well as tragedy, personified. At twenty-seven, and at the pinnacle of a brilliant career, the unthinkable occurred: she was felled by multiple sclerosis.Elizabeth Wilson traces du Pre's life from the earliest stages of her career to her marriage to pianist and composer Daniel Barenboim to her premature death. Now, du Pre not only lives on in her extraordinary recordings, but also in this authoritative account of her life.


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Jacqueline du Pre's talent fascinates because it reminds us that we are not all created equal. She was beauty and genius, as well as tragedy, personified. At twenty-seven, and at the pinnacle of a brilliant career, the unthinkable occurred: she was felled by multiple sclerosis.Elizabeth Wilson traces du Pre's life from the earliest stages of her career to her marriage to p Jacqueline du Pre's talent fascinates because it reminds us that we are not all created equal. She was beauty and genius, as well as tragedy, personified. At twenty-seven, and at the pinnacle of a brilliant career, the unthinkable occurred: she was felled by multiple sclerosis.Elizabeth Wilson traces du Pre's life from the earliest stages of her career to her marriage to pianist and composer Daniel Barenboim to her premature death. Now, du Pre not only lives on in her extraordinary recordings, but also in this authoritative account of her life.

30 review for Jacqueline Du Pre: Her Life, Her Music, Her Legend

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    The sheer amount of research that must have gone into this book is mind-boggling. After a multi-chapter overview of Du Pre's parents' background and her cosseted childhood, Wilson chronicles (what feels like) every minute of Du Pre's brief, 6-year international career (1967-1973), including excerpts from reviews of every concert as well as from people who were in the audience . . . as you can imagine, it can get a bit tedious at times. How many times can I read that Du Pre was incredibly passion The sheer amount of research that must have gone into this book is mind-boggling. After a multi-chapter overview of Du Pre's parents' background and her cosseted childhood, Wilson chronicles (what feels like) every minute of Du Pre's brief, 6-year international career (1967-1973), including excerpts from reviews of every concert as well as from people who were in the audience . . . as you can imagine, it can get a bit tedious at times. How many times can I read that Du Pre was incredibly passionate, and that people either loved or hated her demonstrative style of playing? But for people who love the cello, love the cello repertoire, and admire Du Pre's playing (as I do!), sometimes the minutiae are a delight to read. Nonetheless, even though I'm a cellist who grew up listening to and emulating Du Pre's recordings, I found myself skimming at times. I especially enjoyed the details of Du Pre's whirlwind romance with Daniel Barenboim, her conversion to Judaism, their wedding in Jerusalem, and the excitement of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War (and the concerts Barenboim and Du Pre risked their lives to perform for the troops!). Once they are married, though, the book becomes a compendium of concert tour details (as of course it would). I knew that the book would have a sad ending; anyone who loves Du Pre knows that her career was cut tragically short by Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I didn't realize just how sad her end was, though-- 14 years of deterioration after she had to stop playing the cello: first gradual physical deterioration, then mental-- made all the more tragic by the fact that her husband settled in Paris with a new (de facto) wife and started a family there, as Du Pre became housebound in London with a devoted and long-suffering in-home nurse, and friends (even family!!) gradually stopped visiting. Wilson's explanation of Du Pre's mother's loss of interest in her (because she was no longer the professional cellist she was raised to be) is especially shocking and tragic. After reading whole chapters about weeks or months in Du Pre's life, the final couple of chapters zoomed through those depressing 14 years, which is probably for the best-- but emphasized all the more the tragedy of her end. Her recordings live on-- and they were what kept Du Pre going at the end, as she listened and re-listened to them, constantly asking the few friends (including Wilson) who were still willing to come by, "Is it good?" Beyond its value as a chronicle of one of the greatest cellists of all time, this book is a reminder to consider my mortality and what my legacy-- in the light of eternity-- will be.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hazel Hewitt

    The author specifically says she wanted to focus on the untold stories of Jackie's music. I was fascinated by the details about Jackie's playing and want to reread it. Some details stand out in my memory - for example, one of her teachers encouraging her to focus more on the quietest passages; another section describing almost a confrontation over theories of different bowing techniques - vital for getting the most possible variety and colour from her playing. In fact, I grew up five minutes fro The author specifically says she wanted to focus on the untold stories of Jackie's music. I was fascinated by the details about Jackie's playing and want to reread it. Some details stand out in my memory - for example, one of her teachers encouraging her to focus more on the quietest passages; another section describing almost a confrontation over theories of different bowing techniques - vital for getting the most possible variety and colour from her playing. In fact, I grew up five minutes from her family, played with them, and even had music lessons at five in a little group taught by Mrs. Howe, which included Jackie for a very short while. She was quickly removed by her mother who was, probably correctly for Jackie, dissatisfied with the teaching she was getting. But I remember my mother commenting she was pleased to see Jackie aged 14, hanging around on the corner by our house waiting for a boy, and obviously having a normal life to that extent!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Terri Durling

    Jacqueline du Pre was a once in a lifetime musical genius - a cellist who during her lifetime performed the entire cello literature and was know as one of the best-loved musicians of this century. Her lifetime was a short one and she died at age 27 from muliple sclerosis. Though her career was short lived, she achieved more than most musicians of her calibre could do in a lifetime. The book details her marriage to conductor and pianist, Daniel Barenboim, who stood by her from beginning to end. H Jacqueline du Pre was a once in a lifetime musical genius - a cellist who during her lifetime performed the entire cello literature and was know as one of the best-loved musicians of this century. Her lifetime was a short one and she died at age 27 from muliple sclerosis. Though her career was short lived, she achieved more than most musicians of her calibre could do in a lifetime. The book details her marriage to conductor and pianist, Daniel Barenboim, who stood by her from beginning to end. Her relationships with her family were complex and a movie depicting the complicated relationship between her sister, Hilary has been made into a movie. There was a lot in this book and much of it was over my head as far as the musical references but it was a very interesting read about a very interesting woman cut down in her prime.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anne Boulton

    Interesting book, but written very much from the perspective of a musician - lots of commentary on qualities of specific recordings I have never heard. Might be interesting to read again when I have and compare.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Hard book to end since it was a very compelling story. Well written and deftly focused on her genius, music, and slow demise through illness. I loved meeting all the musicians, the music and her family. A great book for anyone interested in Jacqueline .

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Biographies tend to banalise genius. Better to look for Jacqueline in her music. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Gsekb1qwZs0 *reveres* Biographies tend to banalise genius. Better to look for Jacqueline in her music. http://youtube.com/watch?v=Gsekb1qwZs0 *reveres*

  7. 4 out of 5

    Xysea

  8. 5 out of 5

    John

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

  10. 4 out of 5

    Valentina Kalk

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Clements

  12. 5 out of 5

    emily

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Barnhart

  14. 4 out of 5

    Linda Lipko

  15. 4 out of 5

    Meghan

  16. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Langford

  17. 5 out of 5

    Issabela

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maeghan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  20. 5 out of 5

    Isabella

  21. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

  22. 5 out of 5

    Vica

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jo Sparkes

  25. 4 out of 5

    Seán

  26. 5 out of 5

    Janice

  27. 4 out of 5

    Owldaughter

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan Eggleston

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jur Ng

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