At the time nine years ago, she seemed like a younger, more vibrant version of Liv Ullmann, cast in her own story, the muscial fairy tale of the decade.
One only has to watch her on film to see it all. There she was: Jacqueline DuPre, at 24, already one of the world's leading cellists, strolling across the stage at London's 1969 south bank music festival to join her husband, pianist-conductor Daniel Barenboim, like her, young, attractive, and a dazzlingly talented former musical prodigy.
This August concert would be unique: The Barenboims were playing chamber music with their three closest friends, violinists Pinchas Zukerman and Itzhak Perlman, and the then young musical director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, now conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Zubin Mehta.
But what was thought of at the time as merely a unique concert of five young musical superstars playing Schubert's Trout Quintet turned out to be an extraordinary -- and deeply poignant -- document of musicians-making-music. Today the "Trout Quintet," produced by Christopher Nupen, is a classic, broadcast more times than any other musical documentary in Europe, it will be shown here for the first time today on the Channel 26 program "Here to Make Music: The Trout" at 2 p.m.
The "Kosher Nostra," as Barenboim, DuPre, Perlman, Zuckerman, and Mehta were known in the music world, had come together that summer to play "The Trout," almost "as an experiment," DuPre recently recalled. They were best friends, all in their early 20s, willing to take the ultimate musical chance: playing chamber music together. Doing this well isn't easy.
Producer Christopher Nupen, himself a concert classical guitarist, described the gamble. "Each of them would be completely exposed, yet each had to blend with one another." They weren't disappointed. Today when DuPre remembers that summer concert, she says, "We had an absolute jamboree. We felt so much the same about music and one another that it was almost as if we knew what the next one was going to do before he did it. It was glorious."
And ultimately tragic. Just a year after the Kosher Nostra played the Trout Quintet together, DuPre began noticing a tingling in her fingers, a loss of sensation in her limbs. "It happened to me on the concert platform in New York. I was playing with Pinchas Zuckerman. Suddenly I couldn't feel the cello. I was terrified. To be up on stage and not to know where my fingers were going because I couldn't organize them or my arms either."
What her friends had been calling "Jacqueline's nerves" turned out to be multiple sclerosis. "Suddenly it became impossible to play.
"Oh, it starts in such a slow insidious way, but when it hits, it hits with a bang." DuPre never played publicly again.
Today at 32, she is confined to a wheelchair. She needs help dressing and with all daily functions. But only her body, not her spirits, is crippled. She and Barenboim share a house in a mews near London's Royal Albert Hall; it's a sunny house filled with plants lent to them by dancer Margot Fonteyn.
As she talked in her living room one recent morning, DuPre seemed positively euphoric. "I am thinking of trying to write a novel. Do you think I could do it? I see no reason why someone who's been a musician couldn't rechannel that artistic energy. There's so much that I used to pour into the cello that perhaps could come out now in words."
Her days are filled: friends stopping in, evening concerts, hour-long conversations with her husband when he's in Paris where he's director of the orchestra, and, of course, the constant rounds of attending doctors and physiotherapy.
But what pleases her most of all are not the concerts, says DuPre, but "all the new experiences I never had any time for before."
Like what? "Well, you wouldn't believe it. But I've just discovered theater. Shakespeare. I just saw my first Macbeth. Can you imagine? As a child, I never read anything. I never did anything but play the cello. Now there's time for exploring new metiers. The new Stoppard play, I loved. I'm exploring London for the first time.
"Daniel and I used to travel 11 months a year giving concerts; there was never any time to get to know anybody or to see friends. And I was so desperately shy. I didn't need to open my mouth, I just took out my cello and played. Now I have time to get to know people, to see them, to explore ideas, even to teach students," she smiles. "It's a totally new career for me."
Her former career began at 4. As a child in the English countryside, DuPre -- her name comes from the Channel Islands -- saw "what we used to call a wireless" sitting on a mantle. "I went over and switched it on and there was a program on about every instrument in the orchestra. My mother was with me in the room.
"Well, I wasn't very impressed, until suddenly they came to the cello and I started to scream, 'You're going to get me one of those,' I didn't even say please! I just knew I had to have it. There was only one cello in our whole village and that was about six sizes too large for a 4-year-old, but a child's hand is flexible and I had a good sense of pitch and so I was able to fiddle around and find the notes."
Her mother encouraged her. "Every night she would draw me little pictures and put them under my pillow, of notes of the scale and things. And every morning I would wake up and be so excited that I couldn't wait to get to the cello and play." But rural Sussex was hardly the Juilliard school and being a musical prodigy didn't exactly endear DuPre to her classmates. "I didn't have one friend," she recalls. "I didn't do anything but play the cello. The cello became my best friend. You know how children are. When someone is different, they're cruel to them. I had to put all my eggs in one basket and that happened to be the cello. It took the place of everything."
By adolescence, it had paid off. She was already giving concerts at 15 when she won the coveted Queen's prize and was on her way to becoming world class when she was called to Moscow to study with master-cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, now conductor of the National Symphony.
"Was that thrilling?" DuPre laughs. "Hardly. Slava's manner of teaching was so strict. We had to copy out precise fingerings and the expressions that he wanted. To tell you the truth, I was Bolshy. I had my own ideas. It wasn't the most pleasant of times."
She came back to London from Moscow to play a concert with a boy she'd heard was "remarkable," an Argentinian-turned-Israeli called Barenboim. "I weighed 13 stone (182 1bs) after six months in Moscow of eating nothing but potatoes and bread. I was going into a rehearsal with my cello feeling excessively shy and very fat and then the door burst open and in came Daniel.
"This extrovert, bombastic, 20th-century character! And we were due to play."
Well, he took one look at me and said, "You don't look like a musician," so I rushed to the cello and we sat down and started playing the Brahms F-sharp sonata and to our absolute shock, it was as if we had played all our lives together. That was it. We never looked back from there. I guess it was a musical proposal."
Five months later, the Barenboims were married in Israel on the first day of the Six Day War. And that was the start of their three golden years as musical prince and princess, when they appeared together as often as possible. But now, DuPre does not consider that time as the happiest of her life: "I'm very lucky. My husband is my friend and we haven't lost that. So we're exploring new territory now and that's very rewarding. Whereas in the past, we would have sat down and played, now we have to sit down and talk." She smiles and pushes her long blond hair out of her eyes, "I guess it has given us time to enlarge our emotional repertoire."
At first, the adjustment was almost overwhelming. "I was in shock. Depression set in because it hit me that I wouldn't be able to move and what does one do when one comes to and is unable to do what one used to do? There came a period when I couldn't move at all and I would stare at the ceiling and indulge in... despair reality. But there comes a point when one has to rebuild."
She did it with the help of her husband and friends. And now these days, even though her face is bloated from the drugs she takes to arrest the symptoms of her disease, DuPre seems positively serene. She says she considers herself "a very lucky girl." Before she was crippled, she had mastered the entire cello repertoire. She can experience music vicariously through her husband. "We feel if I go to a concert of his, I'm playing it with him. We're in it as much together as we always have been, it's just that I can't make any sound. But it feels just as alive."
And how does she feel when she looks at herself nine years ago at the south bank playing the Trout? "Positively glorious. You know, sometimes, I forget what it actually felt like to play music and seeing myself -- didn't I look young then? -- gives me back some of my youth and career." She yawns for the third time that morning -- a symptom of MS -- then smiles, yet again. "You know things are really quite normal, except that I'm sitting down all the time."