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Jacquline Du Pre


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#16 Gran'piano

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Posted 04 February 2019 - 19:39

In several places it is stated that the film is based on the book so I thought that too. However I looked up Wikipedia.org before I posted, and there it says that the two projects were developed simultaneously and that the film is not an adaption of an already-published book.
Perhaps we should say the jury is still out. I think the book came out in 1997 and the film in 1998 which would have been very quick anyway.
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#17 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 27 February 2019 - 11:09

She took up the cello aged 4 and was entering young musician competitions by the time she was 14. What do you think she did during those 10 years, stare at the wall?

I used to love artist biopics, but I haven't bothered with them for years.

I knew someone who reportedly got grade 8 oboe after 3 months on the instrument (Jonathan Small). I don't know what the truth is - I never asked him. But of course, grade 8 is a low standard compared with what Du Pré would have been at the age of 14.

Books and films rarely communicate the hard slog when it exists.

Du Pre was great, but her most famous recording was the Elgar and the best bit of that is the first 2 minutes. After that? (sorry, just displaying my ignorance there)

She probably did have a great if specific memory - most achievers do.

"Just because someone said it, doesn't make it true." 

Quite, and fans/acolytes/sycophants/biographers do have a tendency to overstate everything (sibling rivalry aside).*

I used to be very familiar with James Joyce's work and biographical lit and all he had to do was ask "what's Mongolian for yak?" and the people around him would start telling biographers that he spoke fluent Mongolian (his literature doesn't convey more than schoolboy French, Latin, Italian, etc.) Non musicians are bound to treat musicians in the same way.

 

* not to mention simplistic so that it's quotable, and then others glibly quote it forever. To diverge greatly, I love the way "Monet's father was a greengrocer" keeps cropping up. In reality his father owned a chain of greengrocer's shops that covered the North of France.


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#18 Vicky Violin

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Posted 01 March 2019 - 12:21

I once went to an evening with Ida Haendel - most of it was her being interviewed about her life and she did play a little, although by that time she was elderly and struggled to play for long.  She said in the interview that she never learnt to play the violin.  She said she picked up her sister's violin aged 3 and could just play already.  She emphasized several times that she had never had to learn to play.  That struck me as highly improbable, but of course it was her saying it, not a journalist or family member, so I assume she believed it was true.  She also said that once she picked up the sister's violin she wouldn't put it down and wouldn't let her sister have it back.

 

I wonder if a lot of these statements, e.g. Du Pre didn't need to practise / Haendel never learnt the violin, are just a matter of perception.  Maybe they thought they were 'playing' or 'rehearsing' rather than practising or learning, but in reality it was practice.  If Haendel wouldn't put the violin down, presumably she was playing and practising, not just carrying it about.  Also, these kind of statements are often made many years later and are subject to memory / embellishment over time.  How can Haendel possibly accurately remember what happened age 3?  I'm sure the picking up the sister's violin bit is true as that is a one-off event and very memorable, and she probably remembers not wanting to put it down, but in terms of how she actually played aged 3 and how that developed in the following weeks and months, surely she can have no real recollection of that. Probably her recollection is based mostly on what family have told her - and of course their perception is not necessarily what really happened.  With such wonderful players, somehow it's not enough that their playing is exceptional - it seems their learning process / life has to be equally exceptional.


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#19 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 01 March 2019 - 12:26

She took up the cello aged 4 and was entering young musician competitions by the time she was 14. What do you think she did during those 10 years, stare at the wall?

I used to love artist biopics, but I haven't bothered with them for years.

I knew someone who reportedly got grade 8 oboe after 3 months on the instrument (Jonathan Small). I don't know what the truth is - I never asked him. But of course, grade 8 is a low standard compared with what Du Pré would have been at the age of 14.

 

 

 

That doesn't make as much sense as I'd like. Maybe a better suggestion would be to see if Yehudi Menuhin's biography is fuller and extrapolate from that to Du Pré.


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#20 Gran'piano

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Posted 01 March 2019 - 13:31

I read Yehudi Menuhin's autobiography many, many moon ago.

If I remember correctly, he had been taken regularly to concerts all his young life and for his 4th birthday asked for a violin and to have Louis Persinger, who was the leader of the orchestra, as his teacher. Persinger turned him down and said that he didn't teach children. Yehudi was given lessons for six (?) months by another teacher and then tried Persinger again, who, this time accepted him.

At some point it was said that his lessons were not ordinary lessons as such, but that Persinger played something and Menuhin did his best to imitate him. I believe it was another teacher with whom he later wanted to have lessons, who, having asked him to play scales and arpeggios, suggested that he go away and practice them. By this time he must have been an excellent performer, but it seems he had never really worked at these basic skills. Menuhin said that he wondered how he would have played had he had had a different teacher...

No guarantee on any of this but I don't think I am far wrong. As I said, it was a long time ago that I read the book.


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#21 Gran'piano

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Posted 09 March 2019 - 12:22


Looking for something completely different, this morning I stumbled over these sequences of Jackie playing with William Pleeth and a couple much later with Daniel Barenboim. Interesting insights.

https://youtu.be/XRsPr4yrftA
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#22 kenm

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Posted 24 March 2019 - 00:12

I guess nobody likes Jaquiline du pre

Her recording of the second Brahms sonata with Barenboim is one of my favourite CDs.  The opening always makes me thing of her blond hair flying around her head.

 

That sonata and the third for violin have similar last movements: the pianist has to play fistfuls of notes in quick succession and make it sound easy.


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