Monday, November 18, 2013

Listen to this only if you're feeling strong

This is Terence Judd in a live performance from 1978 of Scriabin's Etude Op.42 no.5. By the end of the following year, this brilliant young British pianist, winner of the 1978 Tchaikovsky Competition, was dead. His body was found under Beachy Head, a notorious cliff by the sea in Sussex, where he was assumed to have taken his own life. He was 22 years old.

A few years ago I met his sister, Diana, and interviewed her about him. He had had a severe nervous breakdown several years earlier, she recounted: "He spent several months in a terrible place, in north London, having electric shock treatment and more. He used to think that he was Jesus Christ, and he would tell me that he would go into space and get a planet for me." (Read the rest here.)

The Scriabin Etude above is only about three and a half minutes long, but it is a harrowing thing to listen to. You need to feel strong to withstand the opening up therein of a soul in crisis.