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Jacqueline Mary du Pr (January 20, 1945October 19, 1987) was an English cellist.

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Jacqueline du Pr

Born in Oxford, Jacqueline du Pr is acknowledged as one of the greatest cellists who ever lived. She had a successful career until her death from multiple sclerosis.


Early years

Du Pr was 4 years old when she heard the cello for the first time, on the radio. From then on the sound of the instrument never left her life, starting with lessons from her mother Iris du Pr. Two years later, she started receiving lessons at a London cello school and entering music competitions alongside her sister. At ten years old she won a prize at an international competition, and by the age of twelve she was performing in concerts for the BBC in London. She studied under William Pleeth at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, under Paul Tortelier in Paris, under Rostropovich in Russia, and under Casals in Switzerland.


Throughout her career, du Pr performed with prestigious orchestras and soloists. In particular, her recording with the London Symphony Orchestra of the Elgar concerto in 1961 brought her international recognition. For this performance, she used her first Stradivarius -- "the Davidov" -- which was given to her by an admirer, Ismena Holland. The 1965 recording under Sir John Barbirolli is equally esteemed.

In 1965, du Pr played the Elgar concerto at her first appearance in the USA on May 14 at Carnegie Hall.

Her friendship with musicians Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, and Pinchas Zukerman, and marriage to Daniel Barenboim, led to the famous film by Christopher Nupen of their Schubert "Trout" Quintet; collectively, the five referred to themselves as The Jewish Musical Mafia.


Du Pr received several fellowships from music academies and honorary doctorate degrees from Universities, as an acknowledgment of her talent. In 1960, she won the gold medal of the Guildhall School of Music in London and the Queen's Prize for British musicians. She was created an OBE in 1976.


Jacqueline met pianist Daniel Barenboim at Christmas in 1966. Their marriage one year later brought about one of the most fruitful relationships in the world of music: some consider it comparable only to that of Clara and Robert Schumann. This was evidenced by the many performances of du Pr with Barenboim as either a pianist or orchestral conductor. She converted to Judaism for the marriage.

Jacqueline's sister, Hilary, was married to the conductor, Christopher "Kiffer" Finzi, with whom Jacqueline had an affair. According to Hilary and her brother Piers in their book A Talent in the Family (released in America as Hilary and Jackie), the affair was conducted with Hilary's consent as a way of helping Jacqueline through a near nervous breakdown, during which she exhibited suicidal behavior and begged Hilary to sleep with Kiffer as a way of living a simple life away from celebrity. In 1999, Kiffer and Hilary's children blasted their mother's account, recalling that their father was a serial adulterer who seduced their emotionally vulnerable aunt in a time of great need in order to gratify his own ego.

The disease

In 1973, the passionate sound of Jacqueline du Pr's cello started its irreversible decline, when the artist began to lose sensitivity in her fingers. It was the start of multiple sclerosis, the disease that caused her health to deteriorate until her death in London on October 19, 1987, at the age of 42. Barenboim was with her when she died. She left her 1712 Davidoff Stradivarius to Yo-Yo Ma.

In the last years of du Pr's life, Barenboim, with his wife's consent, set up home in Paris with pianist Elena Bashkirova, and fathered two children by her. They married in 1988.

See also

Hilary du Pr, Piers du Pr; A Genius in the Family: Intimate Memoir of Jacqueline du Pr. ISBN 1856197530. Since the 1998 film, this book is also published under the title: Hilary and Jackie.

Anand Tucker's film Hilary and Jackie (1998) is about the lives of the sisters Hilary and Jacqueline du Pr, based on the memoirs, A Genius in the Family.ja:ジャクリーヌ・デュ・プレ


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