Bryn Terfel Jones was born in Pant Glas, North Wales, the son of a farmer. He knew of another Welsh baritone named Bryn Jones, so Terfel chose Bryn Terfel as his professional name. Terfel had an interest in and talent for music from a very young age. A family friend taught him how to sing, starting with traditional Welsh songs. After winning numerous competitions for his singing, Terfel moved to London in 1984 and entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he studied under Rudolf Piernay. (He has recorded that he initially applied to the music college in Cardiff but when the reply was addressed to ‘Miss Terfel’ he was so annoyed a Welsh College did not know Bryn was a man’s name he switched to London). He graduated in 1989, winning both the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Award and the Gold Medal. He came in second behind Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the Cardiff BBC Singer of the World Competition the same year, though he won the Lieder Prize.