Thursday, 16 August 2012


I am always struck by the difference in meaning between "passion" and "compassion" - which ought to mean "with passion", but doesn't. I came across both yesterday, when we were invited out to lunch at a good friend's house, and met some people new to the area.

The wife of this couple spoke about someone we had both much admired, but whom she had known far better than I: the late Jacqueline du Pré. Hearing Stephen Isserlis playing Elgar's cello concerto last month brought du Pré's radically different interpretation to my mind, and my new friend confirmed that du Pré tackled everything in that same passionate style. I reminisced about first hearing her in duets with Stephen Bishop (as he was then known) at the Bishopsgate Institute. Why didn't this wonderful partnership continue? I wondered. "Jackie," came the response, "didn't feel it was developing: she always needed to be heading off into some new direction, and leading the way."

It's a quarter of a century since du Pré died, and I marvelled at the compassionate way this music lover spoke. (The roses are Compassion too, by the way, growing three metres tall this year and currently adorning our hallway.)

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