Sounding Jacqueline du Pré through ballet: classical music and The Cellist (2020)

Whittaker, Adam (2021) Sounding Jacqueline du Pré through ballet: classical music and The Cellist (2020). Open Library of Humanities: Special Collection - Representing Classical Music, 7 (2). ISSN 2056-6700

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Few cellists of the twentieth century were as recognisable as Jacqueline du Pré. Her dazzling and distinctive talent, said to have enraptured audiences the world over, was overcome by a tragic diagnosis of MS. This sense of tragedy was all the more heightened by Du Pré’s famed physicality on the stage, leading critics to describe her playing as a physical (and even sexual) experience. Her status as a musical celebrity, further intensified as she became one half of a classical music power couple, has led to numerous dramatic retellings and reimaginings of her biography, played out in film and TV, and now on stage.
The most recent example of this fascination with Du Pré is the ballet The Cellist, Cathy Marston’s new work for the Royal Ballet, premiered in February 2020 at the Royal Opera House (London) to much critical acclaim. Its score, composed by Philip Feeney, features a cello soloist and interweaves extended extracts from repertoire that became so associated with Du Pré alongside newly composed musical materials. Along with the characters of Barenboim, Du Pré, and her family, her 1673 Stradivarius cello is given a starring role in the form of Marcelino Sambé, a new take that makes this a distinctive contribution to media representations of Du Pré. This article examines the interactions across this complex web of musical representations of musical personae by analysing depictions of acts of musical performance and the representation of a performer-instrument relationship in The Cellist. Ultimately, it considers the ways the disciplinary partnership of music and dance combine to establish new layers of interpretive meaning and to represent classical music.
Key words: ballet music; classical music; cello; Jacqueline du Pré;

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
22 March 2021Accepted
29 July 2021Published Online
Uncontrolled Keywords: ballet music, classical music, cello, Jacqueline du Pré
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Depositing User: Adam Whittaker
Date Deposited: 12 Apr 2021 11:24
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2022 15:59

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