The Curse of Genius

For some reason, I think that to be truly gifted at something in this world you also have to be truly cursed. Perhaps there is some sort of pact made between you and some spectral judge before birth in which you agree to be truly gifted, but only have that gift for so long; die young; have some tragic accident befall you; or be so brilliant, that your mind is incapable of holding it for so long before it shuts down.

I am not going to pretend to be an expert in classical music, because I am really not, I simply listen to music and if it strikes a cord with me then I’ll listen to it regardless of its genre. When I heard Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor for the first time I just stopped everything I was doing, stopped speaking, stopped thinking, just stopped and listened intently. For 8 or so minutes I completely forgot where I was while I listened to the very emotive part of the concerto. After listening to the piece and watching it oodles of times on youtube I needed to know the story behind the enigmatic cellist Jacqueline Du Pre. Before I get into that, here is the video first.

I simply love this, right from the very beginning, this moody troubled piece is played with such passion from Jacqueline you can see that she feels and means every note she plays, its just beautiful. After reading her bio, I learned that Du Pre had multiple sclerosis and she had to stop playing at the young age of just 28 as she so tragically lost dexterity in her hands. Jacqueline was light years ahead of her peers at the the time and technically she was brilliant, so to live and breathe the cello only to have it taken from you at such an age is really tragic indeed.

Here is a trailer to the film adaption Hilary and Jackie

Another Genius would be David Helfgott the Australian Pianist who recently came to fame with the film adaption of his life ‘Shine’ played by Geoffery Rush. Basically to summarise his life Helfgott, grew up with a strongly overbearing father, who fostered his gift but punished him for having it also. With his father’s jealousy getting the better of him Helfgott’s social skills never developed, his confidence crushed and opportunities were snatched from him. Helfgott finally goes to London after obtaining a music scholarship, where his genius really starts to flourish with his freedom. After years of mastering the past masters, David attempts the hugely complex Rach 3 for his final recital. During the recital David suffers a mental breakdown and afterwhich disappears into obscurity. Years later after slipping completely away from society he is rediscovered, playing in a local restaurant for fun. Here he is speaking in 2008.

The Rach 3

and the Film that brought him to the mainstream again


2 thoughts on “The Curse of Genius

  1. I suffer from MS and when I was diagnosed at a nationally respected MS Center, they had scrolling trivia in the waiting room. This movie, Hilary and Jackie, was listed as a movie that depicted a famous cellist who had MS. I wrote it down and got it on my Netflix and proceeded to watch this horribly depressing movie. I feel that MS patients, especially newly diagnosed patients like I was, need hope and inspiration. I was moved to the point that I contacted my doctor and told her to take down the recommendation. She was a brilliant musician, but no one need to witness the humiliating decline she suffered. Especially not someone with MS.

  2. Hi There,

    Thank you for your comment and your words. I have read through your blog and commend you on documenting your journey, it is a real insight. The focus of this article isn’t about Multiple Sclerosis, more so about great talent and the afflictions that seem to correlate with them, and this is only an observation on my behalf. The link provided is only a link to the trailer, where I believe the discerning viewer can conclude if it is something they can watch.

    Many Thanks


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