Thank you...

... for taking the time to stop by. I hope some of these ponderings will resonate with you.

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(Unless stated otherwise, all text & pictures are © Lee Labuschagne, all rights reserved.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1+1+1 for 365 day 17: The fairy-tale musician who died much too soon

"I love the physical thing of being on the earth that bore you. I have the same feeling when I walk in a very beautiful place that I have when I play and it goes right." - Jacqueline du Pré

Jacqueline du Pré by Carol Easton

This book was given to me by a friend shortly after it was published in 1990 and I immediately devoured it since I had always been a fan of Jacqueline du Pré.  The extraordinarily talented cellist had passed away in 1987 at the age of 42 - a victim of multiple sclerosis (MS).  The disease is a terrible one anyway, but for an artist of her calibre - one of the greatest cellists ever - it was particularly cruel.  It forced her to stop performing at the young age of 28, but by that time she had left behind some remarkable recordings and her name invariably comes up in any discussion of famous cellists.   Most often associated with the Elgar Cello Concerto, she also performed a wide range of the other great compositions for the instrument - many of which she also recorded.

As is the case with all biographies, this one is not the definitive one in the sense of being comprehensive of all possible input and one has to read more, as well as other resources such as articles, original writings and letters and more to obtain the broadest insight.  However, who of us has time to do that?  In addition to this one, other biographies of Jacquie include A Genius in the Family, the one written by her sister Hilary and brother Piers and which was as controversial as Hilary and Jackie, the movie based on it.

Carol Easton knew Jacqueline personally during the later part of her life and did extensive research via interviews and other research.  Her husband (the famous pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim) and her brother & sister "declined to contribute" to the book, but I'm not sure exactly how much one should read into that.

I thought this book gave a good  and moving insight into the human behind the genius and puts the story of her musicianship in the context of the challenges faced by someone whose professional career started at such a young age, her family life, conversion to Judaism and her struggle with MS.  I still prefer it to her siblings' book and it really contributed to my appreciation and understanding of the art of this complex and phenomenally talented musician.  As the book says, she was "the golden girl with a fairy-tale career and a storybook romance who had become a tragic heroine..."


Another stil life picture - in recent years I've started taking many of these.  For fun, this one of white porcelain items and a flower pot on the bathroom window was given some Photoshop treatment. I liked the result and kept it.
 Picture & text: © Lee Labuschagne - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


Classical music lovers in South Africa should definitely bookmark  They are active, interested and knowledgeable and the site contains all you need to know about music events in SA with many interviews, reviews and more.

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