Thursday, August 4, 2011

Jacqueline du Pré: Elgar Cello Concerto

Elgar Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85: Jacqueline du Pré [1945-1987] playing with Daniel Barenboim conducting the New Philharmonia Orchestra of London in 1967. This is taken from Christopher Nupen's 1967 documentary, Jacqueline du Pré and the Elgar Cello Concerto.

You can here another version here with John Barbirolli conducting, August 1965.


Edward Elgar, the English composer, composed the piece during the summer of 1919 at his secluded cottage "Brinkwells" near Fittleworth, Sussex. The elegiac piece was influenced by the sounds of artillery, across the Channel, of the First World War, which ended in 1918. The premiere was the opening concert of the London Symphony Orchestra's 1919–20 season on October 27, 1919.  The work was not popular until Du Pré's recording during the 1960s caught the public's attention.

Jacqueline du Pré, born in Oxford, England, was one of the most gifted musicians to play the cello. Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim married on June 15, 1967, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. She was a convert to Judaism.

In the fall of 1973, at age 28, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but she stopped performing before then:
Her last public concerts were in New York in February 1973: four performances of the Brahms Double Concerto with Pinchas Zukerman, and Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic were scheduled. Du Pré recalled that she had problems judging the weight of the bow, and just opening the cello case had become difficult. As she had lost sensation in her fingers, she had to coordinate her fingering visually. She performed three of the concerts and cancelled the last. Isaac Stern stepped in for her, performing Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto.
She continued to teach on occasion, but her health worsened, and she died in London, England, on October 19, 1987. She was 42. Jacqueline du Pré is buried in Golders Green Jewish Cemetery in London.