Malcolm Troup obituary | Classical music
Malcolm Troup, who died at the age of 91, was an eminent pianist, musicologist and pedagogue. He was also my predecessor as President of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe.
Born in Toronto, Malcolm was the son of William Troup, a cattle rancher turned stockbroker, and Wendela (née Seymour Conway), a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music. She was Malcolm’s first piano teacher, and he showed remarkable precocious talent.
He won a scholarship to the Toronto Conservatory, where he and close friend Glenn Gould both studied with Alberto Guerrero. At age 17, he made his debut with the CBC Toronto Orchestra in Anton Rubinstein’s enormous Concerto in D minor, early proof of his fearless and tirelessly exploratory temperament.
Thereafter, he studied in London with Sidney Harrison (1950-52) and in Saarbrücken, Germany, with Walter Gieseking (1954-56), receiving the Harriet Cohen Commonwealth Medal in 1955. During this period, he toured constantly in Canada, Europe (with frequent performances in the Soviet Union) and South America.
A born, colorful and flamboyant performer, he often received standing ovations and gave numerous encores. During one of his trips to South America, he met his future wife, Carmen Lamarca Subercasaux, a member of the Chilean nobility who joined him in London in 1961: they married the following year at the Vatican in Rome, then settled in Islington, North London. .
With his inquisitive mind, it was natural for Malcolm to expand into musicology and academic administration. In 1967 he was already an honorary professor at the University of Chile, then received his doctorate in philosophy from York University (1968) with the subject Messiaen and the modern spirit, leading to his most famous recording, the cycle Messiaen’s epic Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus (1986).
Typically, Malcolm insisted on recording these fearsome pieces from memory, feeling that the performances would lack the freedom and spontaneity he sought if he had the score in front of him. His prodigious memory was still active in his 70s, constantly adding new works, including those by composers sent to Nazi extermination camps from the concentration camp in the Czech town of Terezín.
A rich list of academic and honorary appointments followed: from 1970 he was Music Director at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, leaving in 1975 to set up the new Department of Music at City University London, with the one of Britain’s first electronic music studios, and the launch of the first Jewish Music Research Fellowship.
He was Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians (1999-2000), Vice President of the European Association of Piano Teachers, Governor of the Music Therapy Charity Trust, President of the Ernest Bloch Society and co-founder in 1993 with Carola Grindea of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe, which he chaired until 2014. To all these roles he brought his characteristic energy, vision, commitment and brilliance, expressed in incisive speech and writing.
Carmen passed away in 2011. He is survived by their daughter, Wendela, and five grandchildren, Saskia, Cosima, Damian, Natasha and Alexia.