Jacqueline du Pre

May 8, 2004 at 06:16 AM · Recently I was reading on this website how some people think that excessive movements and facial expressions can detract from the performance because it forces the audience to think about the music in a certain way, rather than simply letting one's self be a vehicle for the music to be heard. I agree with this, but I was wondering, what do you all think of the playing of Jacqueline du Pre, a player who was known for her dramatic swaying while playing? I personally love her playing, but I'm curious to know what others think.

Replies (29)

May 8, 2004 at 12:20 PM · She was incredible, that's all that is possible to say about her. Apart from Rastropovich, Ma, and Shafran, I like her Dvorak the best. Also, her Brahms sonatas and Saint-Seins, are, in my opinion, the greatest recordings of those works.

May 8, 2004 at 12:48 PM · I dont like her sound nor her vibrato. Excesive "melodrama". She cant stand with Starker, Rostropovich, Fournier, Shafran, Gendron, Knushevitsky and other greatest.

May 8, 2004 at 06:26 PM · well in my opinion she WAS one of the greats.

May 8, 2004 at 10:56 PM · Personally, I prefer movement in a performer...I think it adds a great deal.

If you don't like it, or find it detracts from your interpretation of a work...you can always close your eyes.


May 8, 2004 at 11:03 PM · Rostropovich was du Pre's teacher at one point, and he told her something along the lines of "you can go even farther than I."

I'll see if I can find the exact quote.

She was legendary, and, like Rabin, was another awful tragedy.

May 8, 2004 at 11:22 PM · Wow, it was easy to find.


May 9, 2004 at 12:05 AM · like her or not, i bet her live concerts were unforgettable. apparently she laughed, cried, expressed everything through her emotions that the music did...i agree that she was one of the "greats", esp. in the concerto repertoire.

May 9, 2004 at 02:15 AM · Amazing cellist!

May 9, 2004 at 07:48 AM · I think that movement does distract hugely in performance - and I can't stand excessive musical flamboyance and exaggeration (yes, you can close your eyes, but you can still hear the overly dramatised phrasing). It becomes cliché and is no longer the composer's piece, but the performer's. Some people may like that, but I think it's a tragedy for the composer, and often for the audience. In that respect, my idea of the 'best' or nearest perfect instrumentalists were Oistrakh and Richter, and of today's generation, Mikhail Pletnev.

With that said, du Pré was clearly a great cellist, but certainly not my favourite.


May 9, 2004 at 08:21 AM · I agree with Carl. While du Pre is (was) a preternaturally gifted cellist, her onstage flailing rubbed me the wrong way.

May 9, 2004 at 09:13 AM · Greetings,

the interesting thing abut DuPre was not somuch the movement as the astonishing stillnes sat the center of the movement. That is why I think copying the external is so dangerous.

Apart from the glorious recordings, part of her legacy is a very silly looking bunch of cellists.

BTW it"s a buit rich coming from someboy as irrelevent as me but er, isn"t this a list for the violin? These days weseem to be erring somewhat into the realm of piano and cello. Last time I looked these were different things...



May 9, 2004 at 05:41 PM · I thought it was a list for the Prune, but somehow the violin manages to creep in now and then.


May 9, 2004 at 11:44 PM · Greetings,

Carl, you are confused. Prune is the universal life force operating as the backdrop for a discussion of anything,



May 9, 2004 at 11:56 PM · The great Taoist text, Tao te Ching, is commonly translated "The Classic of the Way and the Virtue"

Unfortunately, this is a grave error, for validating everything Buri just said is the proper translation,

"The Classic of the Prune and Its Virtue"

May 10, 2004 at 12:20 AM · quite right, and the ying yang is often mis-interpreted as well. The ying and yang of the prune are too complex to be explained here, but those small circles of opposite color are meant to represnet the pit, and many monks have spent countless years contemplating the nature of the pit.

May 10, 2004 at 02:30 AM · Greetings,

Owen may now leave the temple,



May 10, 2004 at 04:24 AM · Where would we violinists be without pianists and cellists? Those are certainly topics of interest for me, as a violinist!

May 10, 2004 at 05:01 AM · Greetings,

Laurie, I couldn`t agree more. But I think there is a distinction between topics going off completely at random after beginning in the violin domain and starting a thread tha has nothing to do with violin playing.

The distinction between a list about the violin and being a place where violnists come and have a chat about anything is, in my opinion , a factor in maintaining the quality of this list. As such I feel it is worth consideration.

Prunes of course, remain exempt from such an examination,



May 10, 2004 at 05:29 AM · Cellists are in the violin domain, dear Buri. How many times can we talk about our E strings? Anyway, I'm watching all the topics, and it will always be a board for and about violinists and their myriad interests. Including prunes and bunnies.

May 10, 2004 at 05:46 AM · Greetings,

Laurie, me old fruit and nut, I doubt if there is a genuin argument to be made for the cello and cellists being in a violin domain and therefore directly relevant to this list.

You could argue that it belongs to the family of string instruments, but now you have opened the door to an endless fuzziness. Member of that family leads to memebership in an orchestra and so on ad infinitum.

The notion of -violin- (.com)is too concrete to start playing around with necessary and sufficient conditions. Anything held under the chin also includes my wife....

I hope people don`t take this as being critical. I would hope it could be seen as more as a challenge to utilize more intellectual rigour. One might, for example , pose the question as something like `Considering the extent DuPre moved around during perfomance, what conclusions or arguments could violinists draw from this?` etc.



May 10, 2004 at 06:50 AM · I think the current discussion of what is and isn't relevant is as irrelevant to the violin as anything else. Jacqueline Du Pré was used as an example of performers who move around a lot, and whether this detracted from the performance or not. I think this is clearly relevant to violinists. At any rate, when it comes down to it, the violin is not about what instrument you play on, which strings you use, when to have your bow rehaired, which exercises are best for shifting etc. - It's about making music. We may discuss music from the point of view of the violin, but it certainly allows some room for relevant discussions (such as this one) on the cello, or even piano for instance. It's as a recent discussion about taking the cue from the voice (or vice-versa) - we cannot hope to be musically influenced only by other violinists if we are to play as well as possible.

OK, had my little rant,


May 10, 2004 at 11:47 AM · Greetings,

Carl, for youthat is a rather weak argument. Violinist .com is about the violin , not any other instrument. The logic of that is so irrefutable I don"t think it is even worth debating it any more,



May 10, 2004 at 11:49 AM · Greetings,

actually I thought you were a little rude here calling my point irrelevent. That is the second part of your argument that you have not really thought about. It is called violnist .com and when that clear and -simple- guideline is transgressed then debate about whether it shoudl be for the violin or any other instrument clearly touches on the purpose of the site and is important although the discussion had been friendly and low key up until now.



May 10, 2004 at 02:36 PM · Lighten up! I didn't mean it as aggressively as you took it.

How boring would this site be if it was only about the violin? It's called violinist.com because it's for violinists, but violinists often discuss musical matters that aren't exclusive to the violin. Is there so much wrong with that?


May 10, 2004 at 02:39 PM · And I didn't mean your point was irrelevent. I meant that it was only as relevant to the violin as a discussion on du Pré is. No more, no less.


May 10, 2004 at 04:45 PM · Steve, I suppose it's appropriate that as others are branching out into other threads (going off at a tangent if you like), you are interested in PRUNING the website back to its original tenet perhaps. (Sorry, just a bad joke to try and lighten the (s)tone a little.............or should it be a pip? Pipped prunes???) Who cares, violin, cello - they all play similar prunes......... ;-)

May 10, 2004 at 08:13 PM · With all respect to everyone that makes this a nice place to be, I'm still going to approve threads that relate to violinists even if they are tangents. Particularly if they are relevant to a topic we have discussed at length, as this thread is. Now, back to Jackie and moving while playing?

If you want to talk to me more about it, you can e-mail me. But I do have a strong idea of what I want to approve and what I don't. So far, so good, too.

I would add one more thing, it is "violinist.com." It is about violinists, not the violin alone. And as I see every day, violinists are very interesting people with myriad interests: their violins, orchestra, music of all kinds, health and well-being, teaching children, living a full life while still making time to play, sharing recipes for prunes....

May 10, 2004 at 09:28 PM · You go girl!

July 17, 2004 at 08:23 AM · I never had the pleasure of hearing her play, but love listening to her recordings. Also was mesmerized by the movie about her and her sister (Hillary and Jackie?).

By the way, I have a sale of one of her LP's on ebay with a great photo of her face. The LP is on Angel, and it's called "Jacqueline Du Pre Recital". I don't know if this photo has been used on other recordings by her or not. But don't you think that it's almost as expressive as her music?

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