Violin professor, 78, goes on trial for touching a student

Violin professor, 78, goes on trial for touching a student


norman lebrecht

October 21, 2020

A violin professor at the Conservatorio Superior of Asturias in Oviedo, Spain, stands accused of touching a 20 year-old violin student during the academic years 2015 to 18.

When she protested, he is alleged to have hit her with his violin bow and made disobliging personal comments.

The prosecutor is demanding his dismissal from the Conservatorio and five years jail.

The teacher is said to be Russian.

Report here.


  • Asturias says:

    Seems like you didn’t really read the article – the teacher is accused of sexual and verbal harassment towards the student, as well as abuse of power/authority – not simply “touching” her.

    • Anon says:

      There are a lot of different versions of this story out there. Several of them mention “touching”.

      • Bruce says:

        Asturias’s comment says “not simply touching,” not “not touching.”

        • Anon says:

          Bruce please read the article I posted below from El Comercio with the actual charges. The official charge is “touching”, period. The purpose of HOW she was touched will be the subject of the trial.

          Why FFS is everyone arguing semantics & going off on bizarre tangents about this post – the picture of the violin, the mention of a nationality, the wording of the charges?

          There are very different questions – valid ones – being raised in the Spanish conservatory system about this case and you guys are arguing about violin pictures & semantics. Ya’ll have totally missed the big picture.

          • Bruce says:

            Sorry, my ad blocker blocks this. Even turning off my ad blocker doesn’t unblock it… probably a technical deficiency on my part. (I’m not going to uninstall it completely in order to read one article.)

            Anyway, I was only going from the information provided by the link that NL provided at the top.

            You may have noticed that whenever a case is mentioned on this site that is of a sexual/ sexual abuse nature, the comments immediately go to semantics and nitpicking. E.g. the Lara St. John/ Curtis case: there was a big argument — I hesitate to call it substantial, although it took up a lot of pixels — about whether forcing a 16-year-old counted as child abuse, or ephebephilia, an attraction to adolescents — someone really said this, it’s how I learned the word. Possibly in this person’s mind that made what her teacher did better, or less rapey? I don’t know. There were also the usual “if she was so unwilling, then why didn’t she go to the police right away” remarks and accusations of making this up to further her flagging career.

            Those commenters were largely silent when Curtis issued a public apology to her and other students who had also come forward, acknowledging the validity of their complaints and the fact that Curtis administrators had dismissed them.

            Anyway from what I read in the Voz de Asturias article, it does sound like the was-it-sexual-or-was-it-not question is going to be crucial. Lots of teachers teach with their hands, and to adjust someone’s posture or movement you often have to put your hands on “personal” places (sternum, sternoclavicular joint, lumbar spine or even sacrum). I think even if it’s not intended sexually, if the teacher doesn’t explain what they’re about to do and why, then it certainly can be interpreted that way.

            When I taught in the music department of a local university, I took an Alexander Technique class offered for music students and faculty. You could come to one of the first two classes to see if you were interested, and then it was too late to join until the next term. I recommended it to all my students; some of them came. At the first class, the teacher explained that he does his teaching in large part through touch and what that may involve, and if anyone has a problem with that, let him know so he can avoid causing them distress. One of my students didn’t go to the first class but came to the second. The teacher didn’t repeat his explanation; when she got up in front of the class for her turn, he touched her upper chest, back of her neck, and lower back, and she visibly recoiled. He apologized and gave his explanation again, but for her it was too late; she didn’t lodge a complaint or anything, but she never went back. If that had happened behind closed doors instead of a public setting with 8-10 witnesses, she could very well have had a case if she’d wanted to.

            Also there is a long, ugly tradition of music teachers — not only Russian ones — verbally abusing/ belittling their students, with the idea that a student can’t be properly receptive to teaching until their spirit has been broken and they follow all instructions without question. Some students react well to this kind of teaching and some don’t. It’s not uncommon for the student to quit music (not just change teachers or schools), in which case the teacher feels they have done them a favor and they will now go on to an easier life than that of a musician. I’m sure that back when I was studying (in the 80s) there was a lot of undiagnosed PTSD and a lot of unreported sexual harassment.

    • Anon says:

      This article, for example, lists the official charges being brought against the professor by the Juzgado de Instruccion #1 of Oviedo. They are: 1. tocamientos (touching) 2. insultos (insults) 3. agresion (physical agression).

      There are dozens of stories about this case. Voz de Galicia offers a more elaborate interpretation, but Norman is spot on with the actual charges against the professor: touching, insults & agression.

  • Chris Walsh says:

    Just curious – why did you use a graphic of a carbon fibre violin for this piece?

  • Ariel says:

    “The teacher is said to be Russian.”

    And you’re bragging this?

  • Curious says:

    Touching as in sexually touching or just touching?

  • Gerald Martin says:

    Is touching worse than striking with a bow?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Yes, spiccato and ricochet.