Elgar: Cello Concerto–Du Pre and Barenboim

Du Pre Barenboim 2This video documents two remarkably talented young musicians who were starting their careers–one of which would be very long and distinguished, and the other brilliant but cut too short.

In 1967, Jacqueline du Pré and Daniel Barenboim got married. Twenty-two-year-old du Pré was Britain’s most celebrated young classical musician. She played the cello with such feeling and assertiveness that she was an instant sensation at her debut five years earlier. Twenty-four-year-old Barenboim was making the transition from prodigious childhood to confident maturity. He had been playing piano concerts since the age of ten, and now he was just starting to conduct as well.

In that year–1967–du Pré, Barenboim, and the New Philharmonia Orchestra filmed a studio performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, the piece with which du Pré was most closely associated. The musical performance is lovely; the visual element is just as compelling. Here is one of the earliest images of Barenboim as conductor. The style and mannerisms on the podium are distinctively his own, but one can sense that he still feels new in this role–that he is still settling into place as a conductor. Du Pré, on the other hand, is in full bloom. All of her charisma comes through, and she owns the stage.

Multiple sclerosis ended du Pré’s career in 1973. Barenboim has continued his career as a pianist and as one of the world’s most eminent conductors to this day. Du Pré and Barenboim remained married until her death in 1987.

The embedded video includes only the first movement of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, but you can find the entire performance here.

Performed by Jacqueline du Pré and the New Philarmonia Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim (9 minutes)

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