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Welcome to the

Jacqueline du Pré

Homage Page

by José Sánchez-Penzo

Her Gravestone

Ten years ago Jacqueline du Pré died. The music world lost one of its most outstanding talents.

19 October 1997

Photo by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany

A Genius in the Family

by Hilary and Piers du Pré


A short review:

This is not just another biography, and fans of Jacqueline du Pré, looking for an insight into the person behind the artist, will find much. Piers and Hilary (Jacqueline's siblings) bring the reader inside the family du Pré and share their most intimate moments as a family. These authors hold nothing back and the picture they paint of the entire family, not just Jacqueline, is heart warming one moment and heart breaking the next.

I am a Jacqueline du Pré admirer. Anyone who has ever heard her play the cello must admire her. This book could tarnish ones image of Jacqueline du Pré. It did not have that effect on me. It is not a glossy account of Jacqueline's rise to success punctuated by her ultimate death from MS. There are family secrets which you may find painful to read. Think of how painful they must have been to write. Think of how painful they must have been to experience.

This is the story of a family. A real family facing problems much the same as other families. The family du Pré is not the typical family however, because they have, A Genius in the Family.

Piers and Hilary put their heart and souls into this book. You are touched by their honesty and their tenderness. It is so intimate that you cannot help but feel their feelings right along with them. There are funny stories from their childhood. There are sad stories of their parents aging. There are the accounts, some of which you have already heard, of Jackie. Very personal, very sad.

Michael Hartgraves
February 17, 1998


Jacqueline du Pré

English Cellist

Foto by Christian Steiner
Source: EMI Records Ltd.
Courtesy of Miguel Muelle


  1. Alain Paris:
    Lexikon der Interpreten klassischer Musik im 20. Jahrhundert"
    1992, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag / Baerenreiter Verlag
  2. Munzinger-Archiv/Internat. Biograph. Archiv 50/87
    K 012713-2 Du-WE (fr. ABA)
  3. Booklet of: Favourite Cello Concertos (EMI CMS 7 63283 2)
  4. Interview with Lynn Harrell for a Danish radio station.
  5. Daniel Barenboim: Musik - Mein Leben
    1994, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH, Reinbeck bei Hamburg
  6. New York Times, April 19th 1991, Obituary of Sergio Peresson
  7. Mail from J. du Pré's relatives.
  8. The Strad, February 1997, p 119
  9. Hilary du Pré & Piers du Pré:
    A Genius in the Family
    1997, Chatto & Windus, London
  10. Miguel Muelle: JACQUELINE DU PRÉ Recordings on CD

Picture Gallery:

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
5A Pilgrims Lane, Hampstead, where she lived 1970-75.

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
The Lindo Wing of St Mary´s Hospital, Paddington, where she got the diagnosis MS, in Oct 1973.

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
36/38 Chepstow Villas, Notting Hill, where she lived from 1983 and died here Oct 19, 1987. It was "The Black Monday" in more than one way.

Photo and text by Lennart Wennberg, Tullinge, Sweden
Photo courteously scanned by Axel von der Linde, Neuss, Germany
Golders Green´s Jewish Cemetery, Oct 19, 1997. Please note the Rose "Jacqueline du Pré" at the foot of the grave.


`I've never been a career deamon. I love playing cello, playing to people, but I've never wanted to do it every day and every hour of my life.'

`I began to play it and to love it and I really loved it. ... When I put the bow on the strings, it made a beautiful sound. ... I got a little older ... and wanted to go to play with other children as any normal child would, but practicing was never too much an effort and when I came to Bill Pleeth then I became very studious and worked extremly hard.'

`I played him the "Swan" ... He took me as his pupil and I was very very happy, because I was so small and he was a great cellist. Anyway, from there on we had an enormously relationship for 7 years. He was a marvellous teacher and formed completly the spine of my cello play'

Jacqueline du Pré

Film: "Remembering Jacqueline du Pré" by Christopher Nupen.
(c) 1994, Allegro Films London

`She is the most outstanding cellistic and musical talent I have met so far, to which she adds incredible maturity of mind. I am of the opinion that she will have a great career and deserves every help to this end'

William Pleeth
in a letter of recommendation for the Suggia Awards when Jacqueline was ten years old `She played a simple piece very well but there was nothing flashy about her. At the time she was not an outstanding genius, but there was something that came through and you knew that there was a vast talent that could flower at a tremendous speed once it was awakened. My first impression was of a simple nice child playing with a very nice sound. No fireworks. It was something you detected, and possibly because of the deep sincerity, she was probably not aware of it at the time. When you first hear these gifted youngsters you either get something that is innocent and bland or something which is pregnant. With Jackie it was pregnant. It was just a case of opening a few doors.'

`She was always a joy to teach. She had such a quick understanding, and even if she didn't understand at that moment, she did eventually. It was a kind of animal magic. As one talked to her you could see the understanding and the physical coming together. It was quite remarkable.'

William Pleeth

`She was the ideal recording artist, undemanding, understanding of other people's problems and with no outbursts of what is called "temperament"....For the engineers she was the perfect artist who never complained, however long it took to get the right sound through the microphones. For me, the all-too-brief six years in which we worked together are a golden memory of spontaneous, unaffected, joyous music-making.'

Suvi Raj Grubb,
her recording producer

`I find I adore words. Never having had to use them to any great extent, I am finding beautiful new things about speech I never knew existed. Recently I had to make a reading from the Old Testament for the Branch of the MS Society, of which I am a patron. I found that everything is the same as in a musical performance. the psychological emphasis, the structure and timing is all the same. I am also reading poetry for the first time in my life and I love it so much.'

Jacqueline du Pré,
after she could no longer play

The Sunset Touch: Jacqueline du Pré
from "The Great Cellists" by Margaret Campbell
Trafalgar Square Publishing, North Pomfret, Vermont

`Jacqueline du Pré belongs, like Pablo Casals, Rostropowitsch and Tortelier, to the cellists who could make "sing" their instrument. She mastered all technical details easily. Her additional strengths were passionate feeling, rhythmical fire, breath-taking drive.'

Siegfried Helm

Munzinger-Archiv/Internat. Biograph. Archiv 50/87
K 012713-2 Du-WE (fr. ABA)

The Peresson Cello:

In 1970 Pinchas Zukerman performed a concert on a Peresson instrument he had since that afternoon. Barenboim, who was conducting, was so impressed with the sound that he ordered one for his wife Jacqueline.

`When I told people who I was making it for, they stared at me in amazement. They constantly reminded me that Jackie had the "Davidoff" Strad and a Gofriller. What on earth did she want with a Peresson?'

Sergio Peresson

A few months after having played it, she wrote to Peresson:

`The cello is beautiful. Everyone has fallen in love with it.'

Jacqueline du Pré

From this time onwards she played this instrument constantly until the end of her career. The recordings of the Franck sonatas and the Chopin sonatas were made with it, as well as the live recording of the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim in November 1970.

Sergio Peresson
Margaret Campbell pays tribute to Sergio Peresson
The Strad, July 1991, p 626

Excerpts and quotations from

`A Genius in the Family'

by Hilary and Piers du Pré:

`One day Jackie was in the kitchen at home with Mum who was ironing. The wireless was on and Children's Hour was presenting a programme about the instruments of the orchestra... The flute, oboe and clarinet all had their turn, followed by the violins. As the sound of a cello filled the room, Jackie became completely still and attentive. She listened transfixed until the end, leapt up, clutched Mum's leg and said, "Mummy, I want to make that sound."'

Even more wonderful than having been banished in the celestial sphere like Andromeda or Venus, this star, untimely died, will remain for ever among us on earth. Not only on her recordings but also as a flower. As an ivory white rose bearing her name:

Jacqueline du Pré rose
R. 'Jacqueline du Pré' (R. 'Harwana') belongs to the group of the shrub roses. The height can reach 2 m and the width 1.5 m. Blooming from summer until autum she has cup shaped, ivory colored flowers of around 10 cm diameter with notched petals and red stamens giving a smell of nutmeg.

Enzyklopädie der Garten und Zimmerpflanzen.
Orbis Verlag, 1994.

Courtesy of S. Andrew Schulman


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