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 to English-American parents, Anthony and Gloria Judd. In 1967, aged 10, he won the National Junior Pianoforte Competition, and 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] In London he also studied with Ezra Rachlin, (1915-1995). 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]


Shortly before he was due to embark on a six-concert tour of the Soviet Union, Judd left his parents' Brondesbury Park home in north-west London after Sunday lunch on 16 December 1979, telling them he was going for a walk. A week later, on 23 December, his body was found washed up on the beach at the foot of Beachy Head[5] There was a one-way train ticket in his pocket, which was seen as evidence he had not intended returning.[6] At the coroner's inquest, his general practitioner testified that he had treated Judd for depression in February 1979.[7] Earlier in his life, Judd had suffered a nervous breakdown and spent several months at a clinic in north London, where he received ECT.[6] The coroner delivered an open verdict,[7] 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[8] 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.