Remembering Jacqueline du Pré

A film by Christopher Nupen

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Program notes

On the twenty-sixth of January 1995, Jacqueline du Pré should have celebrated her fiftieth birthday. But her carreer was cut short by multiple sclerosis when she was twenty-eight years old and she died in 1987 at the age of forty-two.

She was thought of as a Golden Girl. A beautiful young woman with a superabundant talent, a smiling face and a winning combination in her personality of shyness and modesty allied to ferocious determination and an incorruptible honesty both in her life and in her music.

The popular image was true to her but it did not tell the whole story. The sad truth is that this glorious talent fell silent too soon. Her success during her lifetime could hardly have been greater but it takes the world a long time to open its heart completely and without qualification. The popular idea of the girl with an exuberant talent should, in time, have developed into the deserved image of the truly great artist – one of the greatest cello talents of our century and one of the finest performing musicians that England has ever produced: because she was already – just exactly that.

Why do we remember Jacqueline du Pré with such affection? There are many answers to that question – among them her seemingly endless capacity to surprise and delight us. It was not an ability that she sought after, but something that flowed naturally from an effervescent spirit and a heaven-sent gift. This film remembers Jacqueline du Pré, with an exceptional collection of archive material taken from Christopher Nupen's collection. We see her with her friends Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, Itzhak Perlman, William Pleeth, singing along with her cello, playing Clementi on the piano at home with Barenboim teaching, rehearsing with John Barbirolli...

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