Munich Hochschule wriggles out of sex claims

Following a weekend exposé in Der Spiegel, the conservatoire published a statement today by its president, Bernd Redman, promising to clarify allegations of sexual assault and to take measures to protect its personnel.

The statement does not respond to Der Spiegel’s claim that it suppressed an internal survey showing sexual assault to be endemic. According to the article, 115 out of 800 academic staff said that they had heard ‘lewd remarks’, 56 had experienced lewd gestures’, 34 had been groped, nine had been shown genitalia, eight had been coerced into sexual acts, and one rape had been reported.

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  • Schocking. It seems that music alone is for the staff at this institution definitely not enough to provide fullfilment. These people should look for a quite different profession where they cannot do much harm to the environment. They should be put to work at the Müllabfuhr.

    • Have you any clue how many people teach at this institution? I have no doubt that there has been a very ugly swamp within it for a long time, but not everybody who teaches is or has been part of its fauna. Please think before you post.

  • If you folks want something REALLY salacious to be ‘shocked’ by, you should look up a former oboe major who went to San Jose State University, only to later have the stage name Bobbi Starr. I work with someone who was at SJSU at the time this person was going there. Let’s just put it this way: she found new and interesting ways to use practice rooms.

  • According to the survey, the numbers aren’t about what academic staff experienced, but about the students’ experiences. The allegations are directed toward the former Dean of the University of Music in Munich, and a prominent former composition professor. The Dean has already been convicted of sexual assault and given a probationary sentence, but the case has been reopened with even more serious allegations and will be continued tomorrow May 16th. If convicted, he will likely go to prison.

    The DA is still weighing the case against the comp prof and has yet to proceed even though the initial allegations were made about two years ago. The allegations included that he took students to a sex club he frequented, and that in one case, he blackmailed a student into having sex with other men at the club with the threat that he would blackball the student’s brother who was one of his students.

    The article listed below says the professors used porn films in their instruction so that the students could develop the necessary “looseness for composing” (“Lockerheit fürs komponieren”.) It also states that in several cases lessons were given at the professors’ homes and in their beds. It also states that sexual encroachments were made under the cover of practicing for the stage.

    There are some striking correlations with the behavior of James Levine at the Cleveland Institute of Music in the 1970s as reported in the Boston Globe. Students masturbating in front of each other was to give them some sort of openness to be better performers. Sexual boundaries were broken down and the students exploited in the name of pedagogy. And just as in Munich, the school’s administration remained oblivious, or more likely indifferent, since it’s unlikely such behavior would have remained secret.

    Nevertheless, when NPR asked CIM last March about the Levine situation, the school said, “…it has no record or knowledge of complaints about Levine during his tenure at the school.” The NPR article included the details I mention about the Levine scandal, and is here:

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/02/590282661/new-details-emerge-in-abuse-allegations-against-conductor-james-levine

    One of the most consistent characteristics of such situations is that many professors and administrators know what is happening, and yet no one intervenes. Recent cases, such as at Utah State University and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music show that the lack of intervention by colleagues and administrators continues to this day. And it is a fact, that those who speak out about these issues can still face massive intimidation.

    More info about the Munich case here:
    https://www.watson.de/!755230928?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social-user&utm_campaign=watson-site-mobile

  • To be clear about my comment (which hasn’t yet been posted because it is still awaiting moderation due to the inclusion of a couple urls,) the allegations made toward the former Dean and former comp prof refer to various alleged incidents by them reported in the media, not the allegations made in the survery.
    The various articles about the surveys do not say which professors were allegedly invovled in the reported numbers. Given the high numbers, it would seem that there were a larger number of professors involved, not just the former Dean and former comp prof.

    The survery numbers suggest how widespread the problems allegedly are. And the University of Music in Munich is by no means alone with these problems. Based on my expereince, I would say they exist in all of Germany’s Universities of Music, though perhaps to varying degrees.

    • Another interesting thing I have noticed about the two cases mentioned in the various linked articles, is that both of the men’s wives have strongly supported them, and denied that the allegations are true. Both claim that the men are the objects of witch hunts due to professional jealousies.

      If the allegations are true, it would seem that due to a misguided loyalty, they are prepared to rationalize their husbands’ outrageous betrayals. The husbands of both families enjoyed great professional prestige and very substantial upper middleclass incomes. Both men then became pariahs in their profession which also affects the status of their spouses and children, and both families faced financial ruin in which they lost virtually everything. It seems likely that these devastating social and financial losses affect the spouses’ perceptions. There are levels of trauma that make it difficult to face reality.

      We see how poor administrative practices and oversight put not only the students in danger, but also the professors. One should hope that even basic human decency would keep the professors in line, but it is a fact that good administration can keep them out of a lot of trouble in cases where their personal judgement might be weak. The music schools in Europe and the USA have a lot of catching up to do.

  • A woodwind professor at the school I graduated from was notorious for affairs with his students. Eventually he married one of them. When people would call him to play gigs, he would say that he was busy but his wife would play. But she didn’t play well. People stopped offering him work. In the end she left him and became a long-haul trucker.

    • I take it back. This is far more salacious that what I have to offer via Bobbi Starr. Amazing the things one can learn at this site!

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