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The pianist who's being threatened with jail for disturbing the neighbours

December 24, 2011 by Norman Lebrecht

7 comments.


Laia Martin is a pianist, studying at the Conservatoire in Barcelona. She is 26 and, by all accounts gifted but her ex-neighbours are taking her to court for ‘psychological damage’ caused by her playing and their lawyer is asking for a seven and a half year jail sentence.

Unbelievable? Read on….


Comments (7)

  1. I don’t find it unbelievable. What time(s) of day was she playing? How loudly?

  2. I’ve sometimes wanted to take ex-neighbours to court when they played loud pop music at all hours of the night. Much as I appreciate a good pianist, I might feel irritated if he/she woke me up in the morning and disturbed me at night. Seven and a half years seems like a harsh sentence. It would have been far better if the lady and the ex-neighbours had come to some understanding before the matter was taken to court. Laia Martin won’t get much chance to practise if she’s sent to jail!

    1. Lora says:

      According to the article, she practiced 8 hours a day, 5 days a week – 9 to 6 with an hour break. They called the parents accomplices and compared her practicing to the noise from a disco or an airport.

  3. Martin Locher says:

    I had such a discussion with my partnets recently about their neighbours playing drum. My point is, if the drumming is part of an education, they shall accept it and be happy, if the kids make progress. But if the noise is just senseless drumming without a goal to get somewhere, offer the kids a few poisoned sweets 🙂

    To the Spanish case: It is difficult to judge that, as we can not know how poorly the building’s sound proofing might be. I remember to once have stayed in an apartment where my neighbours woke up when I was coughing at night. In such a building 8 hours of piano playing would, to me, certainly not seem acceptable. However it seems very strange, that the ex-neigbours go to court after putting up with that noise for 4 years.

    1. TC says:

      I live in Japan , the Apts here ……. well to anyone who has lived in Japan you would know .

      You do NOT make noise …….. you go to a rehearsal hall space that you rent for 1500 yen for 3 hours ( or more depending on where ) then add the Rental for the instrument of you don’t have your own .

      The ONLY way you can rehearse like that is if you own a house , then you’re on a different social status , and your neighbors will not complain especially if it is classical , ( Rock is a different story = Me = Guitarist ——->)

      Bu Apt . and a Piano ??? hmm I don’t thing Jail time is the answer , but she should have made adjustments for the sake of relations with the others in the Apt complex .

  4. John Ogdon experienced something similar – according the the Brenda Lucas biography ‘Virtuoso’ – in the run-up the Tchaikovsky competition. His landlady argued with him constantly about his playing the piano all day, banging on the wall to shut him up… Apparently that all changed when he was front-page news following his joint win with Ashkenazy!

    1. Not sure that I agree that the ends justify the means.


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