Musicologist cries harrassment against eminent colleague

Most who knew him agree that the late Alejandro Planchart was a gentle man and a courteous colleague.

Kendra Preston Leonard begs to differ.

 

Ms Leonard is, by her own description, ‘ a musicologist and music theorist whose work focuses on women and music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and music and screen history, particularly music and adaptations of Shakespeare.’

On the topic ‘Alejandro Planchart, 1935-2019’ at the official discussion site for the American Musicological Society, here is what Ms Leonard writes: ‘Given the numerous cases of his harassment and other inappropriate behavior towards women (and the fact that he was fired because of it), I hope the AMS’s obit is an honest one and not another life-review that erases the harm he did.’

No evidence is offered.

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  • I had certainly heard stories of — what’s the word I want? — intimate relationships that Alex had that some might describe as inappropriate. But I had never heard of anything non-consensual.

  • He made inappropriate sexual overtures to me when I was a graduate student. I won’t speak on behalf of others, but I was not the only one.

      • I turned him down, but that’s not relevant. The point is that he should not have attempted to take advantage of his position.

        • It is relevant. Far too many people do nothing sensible at the time, nurse a grudge for years and then carp about it well after the fact.

  • I was Alejandro’s colleague for 30 years, and his friend and student before that. I was also the department chair when Alejandro retired as the highest paid and most honored member of the music faculty. He was conferred Emeritus status, and by no means was “fired.” He was a brilliant scholar who was generous to a fault with his work and a respected, dedicated teacher. This kind of sniping at the dead is not seemly.

    • How is it relevant to the accusation at hand that he was highly paid, honored, brilliant, generous, respected, dedicated, etc? The same could be said of some of classical music’s most (in)famous abusers and harassers.

      • The woman is “sniping at the dead” and is irrelevant, unless her point is that he can’t be trusted in the afterlife.

    • I think it is fine to carp about a dead person as long as you don’t level un-founded accusations at him. Being dead doesn’t make a person better or worse – just deceased. Snide public comments at the funeral or memorial service are a different matter. If you didn’t like the person, stay home.

  • Evidence of harassment and inappropriate behaviour can be extremely hard to provide. But there are other people coming forward on Kendra Leonard’s Facebook page and citing both personal experiences and longstanding rumours. Planchart certainly sounds like no saint. Leonard has a lot more to lose than to gain by making this kind of statement, so I would imagine that she’s pretty sure she’s on firm ground.

  • We live in desperately puritanical times with the, er, ‘progressive’ Left behaving like the church once did, as well as Mary Whitehouse in the UK in the 50s and 60s. The staggering hypocrisy of the Left which has loudly called out this santimonius behaviour in others and now indulges in it to the extent of christian denunciations and burning of witches at the stake surprises me none – but lots of gulls not at all.

  • People are complicated and nuance has been sorely lacking in the discussions about Alejandro’s behavior toward women. There is no question that Alejandro regularly said things that most would consider inappropriate in a professional context, that he was a womanizer, and that he was also a beloved mentor to countless scholars and performers of all genders. Being a womanizer doesn’t equate to being a predator, though, and I haven’t heard evidence that he was. Also, facts matter, and it’s just factually incorrect to say that he was fired, though I understand that he was sanctioned.

    • “….all genders”? There are only two sexes and I suspect Alejandro was well aware of the differences between them.

      • There are two biological sexes and many more than two ways of defining the social construction that is gender. I hope that makes sense to you.

        • Only if you are committed lefty who sees the world and the people in as objects to be ‘de-constructed.’

  • I’m not sure how “fired for sexual harassment” doesn’t rise to the level of evidence for you, even if you’re not willing to listen to your many many female colleagues who were made uncomfortable by Planchart.

  • Yes, all of us who knew him heard his inappropriate comments. I personally never took them as predatory or as anything more than talk, though I don’t want to minimize experiences that were different from mine. More than once I said to him, “If you were not Alejandro, I would slap you for saying that.” But I also knew that his deep engagement with my work and strong support of me was purely intellectual–and he knew I knew that. I had to laugh when, one of the last times I saw him about two years ago, he said he’d recently been on a date with a woman with a very nice ass. I rolled my eyes and said, “you never stop, do you?” But as a pretty staunch feminist, I had to admire someone over 80 with skin still in the game, intellectually, and in so many other ways. People are rarely all bad or all good, and no one reminded me more of this than him. He was a remarkable and complicated man. RIP, Maestro.

  • I know many more accounts of harassment first hand that were privately and publicly filed; and careers that were ruined because of it.

  • I was harassed by dr. Planchart as an undergrad. He retaliated against me when I attempted to disentangle myself from him personally. I told the department about it then but it took years and many more women coming forward before anything was done. It’s too bad because he knew me at a pivotal time in my musical life and could have been a great help- but it came with a price I wasn’t willing to pay. Some people teach for the wrong reasons. Many of my male colleagues benefited beautifully from him I will add.

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