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Oh, Jacqueline!

I encountered Jacqueline du Pre’s recorded performance of the Elgar Concerto in 1965 when I was 23 and she was 20. I have to admit that in the shop in lower Manhattan I was drawn to her photograph on the album because she resembled the very first girl I fell madly in love with in high school. I was curious to hear what a mere GIRL could do with such an important piece of music, written of course by a virle, powerful MAN.

Her Elgar was indescribably wonderful. Full of nuance, and a succession of harmonic contrasts, and expressive power in the softest of passages. I was totally blown away. This wasn’t an innocent child, no, she was a musical genius who ranked with cellists Pablo Casals, and that intense Russian, Mistislav Rostropovich.

Plus Jacqueline was so utterly HOT, and I imagined myself giving tribute to her transcendent artistry by covering her beautiful face and breasts and cunt with kisses, hundreds of adoring kisses, and then gently entering her and slowly bringing the both of us to blinding orgasms. I imagined myself making love to her all night long, and then again the next night, and again and again for as long as we lived.

In the same store a few weeks afterward, my eye caught the album Diabelli Variations, by Daniel Berenboim. I took it to my apartment on West 83rd Street, and, as with Jacqueline’s Elgar, I was stunned, taken completely by surprise.

No question that Berenboim at the impossible age of 23 understood exactly what drove Beethoven to these profound melodic complexities, superior even to Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Beethoven intended it as a gift for the great love of his life, his Immortal Beloved, Antonie Brentano. Now, Antonie was a virtuoso pianist herself, and she was a superb sight reader, and I imagined her flipping the pages of that handwritten score, and instantly understanding what Ludwig had just given her.

Two years later I read in The New York Times news that profoundly disturbed me. I had to read it twice, three times, because I didn’t want to believe it.

My darling, sweet precious Jacqueline had just married Daniel! In Israel!

I fell into the dark depths of a severe cognitive dissonance. Yes, young Daniel was unquestionably among the greatest pianists alive, and he brought Beethoven to life for me in a way that no other musician ever could. But god damn it to hell I could not see him with MY girl Jacqueline.

No, that marriage near the wailing wall was just not right.

I remember re-reading that Times article as I walked down Madison Avenue, shaking my head. No, no, no, NO. I went into an Irish bar, and ordered a double vodka martini on the rocks with a twist. I gulped it down, and ordered another.

Oh, Jacqueline! Oh, Jacqueline!

I bent my head over my squat glass and wept.

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Awww... that is so touching!

I was dating a cellist who was in the Civic Orchestra of Chicago back in 2001, and was lucky enough to sit in on some rehearsals conducted by Daniel Barenboim. They were just rehearsals, but the experience blew me away. Since then, I've been longing to learn a musical instrument so I can be part of something like that - I finally started learning the violin in August. Maybe one day it'll happen...

Anyway, thanks for the post. Brought back a lot of good memories.

I've always been drawn to musicians...most especially women musicians.

You've seen the movie about her, right? I forget it's name. Really good flick though.

No, I've just been deep into the book on which it was based, "Hilary and Jackie," written by her sister & brother, as well as another engaging biography by cellist Elizabeth Wilson entitled "Jacqueline du Pre: Her Life, Her music, Her Legend."

I should add that there was only one thing that stood in the way of my own career as a world-admirered concert pianist--talent.

See the movie. It is really very well done.

OK, I'll get around to it one of these days.

Does the actress in the movie come close to this?

That depends. Do you like Emily Watson? :-). I think she can be pretty sexy myself. But of course the film is mostly about DuPre's breakdown.

The reviews say Emily did a great job in the movie, so I'll put it on my to-do list. As for the YouTube clip, it was quite a get-together. Jacqueline at age 24, playing with young Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Pinchas Zuckerman, and of course Daniel Barenboim, her lover & future husband.

You had good taste in your youthful infatuations!

I still feel sad about her early death.

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