Jacqueline du Pré – Talented Cellist who lost her abilities due to myelin loss

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Jacqueline du Pré was an astounding English Cellist. She achieved high performance at a young age before she lost her abilities (at 28) to the loss of myelin[*] due to multiple sclerosis (MS). At first she lost sensation in her fingers so she used her visual senses to coordinate her fingers while playing.

She is most famous for her iconic recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor.
Here’s a short version of the concerto followed by a playlist of the full concerto

Here’s a recording of her performing Schubert’s Piano Quintet (Trout)

Jacqueline was not alone. She had a sister, Catherine du Pré who was a flautist.

You might also like this amazing piece and performance (not by Catherine but rather dedicated to her by Werner Thomas with Münchener Kammerorchester)

And this “Tribute to the Day of Death” piece

Update: In another post I share a previously unpublished interview with du Pré.

Footnotes

Myelin is a material that wraps around nerve fibers and acts as an insulation (think of internet cables). The better the insulation the faster the electrical impulses are and the more coordinated between nerves they are. Myelin is considered by neurologists as the main element of talent. The more practice the more myelin insulation there is and the better you become at a specific skill.

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