Terence Judd

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Terence Judd (3 October 1957[1] – between 16 and 23 December 1979) was a distinguished English pianist who died young, poised on the verge of a musical career.


Terence Judd was born in 1957 of English-American parents. In 1967, aged 10, he won the National Junior Pianoforte Competition, and he came to the attention of Eileen Joyce, who supported and encouraged him.[2] He also studied with Maria Curcio, the last and favourite pupil of Artur Schnabel.[3] Known particularly for his championship of virtuosic romantic works, above all the music of Franz Liszt, he brought a characteristic exuberance and clarity of expression to his performances; and his recordings bear witness to that. His renditions of Alberto Ginastera's Piano Sonata No. 1 and Samuel Barber's Piano Sonata in E minor remain as milestones for other pianists, and his memorable performances of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3, which he played back-to-back in the finals of the 1978 Tchaikovsky Competition, are among the most exciting of these well-known virtuosic works. He was awarded joint 4th Prize, with Boris Petrov.[4]


Judd disappeared on 16 December 1979 after saying he was going out for a walk. His body was found at the bottom of Beachy Head on 23 December.[5] There was a one-way train ticket in his pocket, which was seen as evidence he did not intend to return.[6] At the inquest, his general practitioner testified that he had treated Judd for depression in February 1979.[5] Earlier in his life he had suffered a nervous breakdown and spent several months in a treatment facility in north London, where he received electric shock therapy.[6] The coroner delivered an open verdict,[5] but it is generally accepted that Judd took his own life.

His family scattered his ashes in Hawaii, a place he had long desired to visit.[6]

The Terence Judd Award[7] is given in his honour.

Selected discography[edit]

Terence Judd's legacy is captured in a number of releases on the Chandos label. In particular:

  • [2]. Includes the Ginastera and Barber sonatas mentioned above as well as Liszt, Shostakovich and Ravel.
  • [3]. Predominantly Liszt (including the Sonata in B minor) as well as some Chopin.
  • [4]. A more classical selection, with Bach, Scarlatti and Haydn as well as some romantic works.
  • [5]. The concertos mentioned above, recorded in the Tchaikovsky Competition.