The Jacqueline Effect

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20150827

A small girl of 4 living in Croydon heard a cello playing on the radio.

'I want to make that noise', she said to her mother.

Her name was Jacqueline Du Pré. Aged 5 she was studying at the London Cello School; at 16 she made her sensational Wigmore Hall debut. 12 years later, she gave her final performance, a victim of multiple sclerosis.

Du Pré, who died in 1987, would have been 70 years old in 2015. During that intense decade of her career, thousands heard, and saw Du Pré perform, and were inspired to take up the instrument themselves.

Unlikely cellists joined school orchestras and for decades to come, cello posts in orchestras around the world would be over-subscribed, competition driving the technical level higher and higher. Superb cello virtuosi emerged from conservatoires all over the world in ever greater numbers - a phenomenon known as 'The Jacqueline Effect'.

Her tragic story, the subject of books, plays and a feature film, continues to intrigue: her super-human musical gifts, international success, turbulent personal life and marriage to Daniel Barenboim, and her affliction with MS at an early age.

Now, music journalist Helen Wallace, who herself took up the cello after experiencing Du Pré on film, asks if she still has the potential to inspire, and whether her unique reputation was deserved.

Christopher Nupen's 1967 'Omnibus' documentary brought her a vast new audience, and he reflects on his part in creating the phenomenon, as do professional cellists who knew her - William Bruce and Moray Welsh - plus Alisa Weilerstein - superstar cellist of the new generation who fell in love with a cellist she never knew.

So, has the Jacqueline Effect survived?

Producer: Sara Jane Hall

(who also took up the cello after seeing Jacqueline Du Pre).