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Jacqueline du Pré (1945-1987)

Jacqueline du Pré with Daniel Barenboim.

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Jacqueline du Pré is probably the most famous female cellist in the world. She played the cello with enormous feeling. She was full of life and passion. Her story though is also a tragic one because when she was 26 she began to suffer from multiple sclerosis which eventually meant she could no longer perform on the cello. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that damages the nerves so that they cannot tell the muscles to move. To begin with it meant that she could not feel her fingers but eventually she was unable to move her body and had to use a wheelchair. She died when she was only 42.

Jacqueline du Pré started to learn the cello when she was four years old after hearing a cello played on a Children's Hour radio programme. She told her mother, "That is the sound I want to make".

She married the pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim. Together they were very famous and played in concerts around the world.

Jacqueline du Pré was probably most famous for playing Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor. When she was taught by Rostropovich, he was so impressed with how she played it that he didn't perform it himself again. He said, "She did it perfectly, and unless I could say something new about the work, I decided not to play it."

This is what someone said about Jacqueline du Pré: "She was a musical lioness, ferocious and playful, uninhibited and passionate".

You can watch Jacqueline du Pré playing Elgar's Cello Concerto on: