Sunday, November 27, 2011

Jacqueline du Pré: Mendelssohn's Song Without Words

Jacqueline du Pré performs Felix Mendelssohn’s last work for cello and piano, the poetic Song without Words, opus 109, which he dedicated to Lisa Cristiani, one of the few women cellists of the time. A young Jacqueline du Pré is accompanied here on piano by her mother, Iris du Pré. 


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.
Du Pré 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.