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September 20 , 2007

Jacqueline du Pré: A Biography


Jacqueline du Pré (1945-1987) was one of the world’s great cellists. At age 11, she won the most prestigious cello award in Britain and was an established artist at twenty. At twenty-one, she married young conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim. Six years later, her career was over. She had developed multiple sclerosis, and died slowly over the next fifteen years. During those years she continued to believe that she would recover, taught the cello and went out in her wheelchair.

Carol Easton came to know Jacqueline well during her last five years, when the cellist had begun to work with a psychoanalyst. In addition to her own interviews with Jacqueline, Easton interviewed more than one hundred people who had known the cellist.

This eBook edition includes twenty images from films about Jacqueline du Pré by Christopher Nupen. Christopher Nupen, in the words of Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Chief Executive, Channel 4 Television (London), “pioneered a style of filming music and music making for television in which his excellence has rarely been equalled and never excelled.”

“Compelling. I had always known there was something unspoken about Jacqueline du Pré’s early childhood, here revealed. After reading the book, I wished I had known her before the onset of multiple sclerosis. What comes through in the biography is a passionate and free-spirited artist.” — Yo Yo Ma

“A strong, compelling and compassionate book.” — Richard Dyer, Boston Globe

“This sensitive biography... helps explain why so many people fell in love with [du Pré’s] persona as well as her incomparable artistry on the cello.” — Publishers Weekly

“In this immensely compassionate biography, we learn the facts behind the fairytale, the many truths behind the tragedy. And they’re presented insightfully, even entertainingly.” — Valerie Scher, San Diego Tribune

“By showing the human being behind the saintly mask handed to her by a public which demands that those whom it has designated ‘golden’ suffer nobly so as not to upset the rest of us, and by recording the silent scream of the woman who bore the terrible nickname ‘Smiley,’ Carol Easton has proved that truth can be more moving than fiction.” — The Sunday Times (London)

“This biography will give extra poignancy to hearing again the Jacqueline du Pré recordings, which deservedly continue to hold their places in the best-seller lists.” — Music and Musicians

“Carol Easton’s judicious and well-researched biography leaves you with the unedifying thought that life is a bitch, appallingly and gratuitously bloody in its wanton injustice. Fortunately, the book is also an illuminating exploration and celebration of a musical personality loved by her public.” — The Spectator

“Easton’s book is a splendid evocation of the strange world of the prodigy, and a moving account of how the cello was both angel and monster for du Pré — a source of painful isolation as well as unmatched passion.” — Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times

“Carol Easton describes the full extent of the tragedy that enveloped this wonderfully gifted woman. In the process, du Pré recovers the dignity of which she was robbed with such casual cruelty during her last years... Easton’s musical perception, sharper than that of many critics, makes the book credible, while her skills as a researcher and her direct-yet-elegant style make du Pré’s story, with its larger-than-life, jet-set cast of characters and its soap-opera overtones, emotionally rich and spiritually rewarding.” — Laurence Vittes, Los Angeles Reader

“A rich, full-scale portrait of one of the 20th century’s greatest cellists whose emotionally charged concerts captivated audiences... Easton skillfully reveals Du Pré’s musical and emotional development and shows us a charming, flirtatious and beautiful young woman who often hid behind her music.” — Los Angeles Today

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