Pedigree Scots pianist is convicted of rape

Pedigree Scots pianist is convicted of rape


norman lebrecht

November 25, 2021

A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh has returned a guilt verdict against Peter Antonelli, MBE, on charges of rape, lewd and libidinous conduct and indecent assault against six victims.

Antonelli, 66, taught piano at two schools in East Lothian.

A pupil of the late Margaret Murray McLeod at Napier University and of the American pianist Craig Sheppard, he gave recitals around the country, some of which were broadcast on the BBC. He was awarded the MBE in 2004 for services to musical education.

Antonelli was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing next month.

According to the BBC court report: Antonelli admitted to having a sexual relationship with the girl when she turned 17 and he was 31.

Antonelli told his lawyer Brian McConnachie QC: “At the time it was quite common then. Not now. But back then it was quite common.”


  • John Borstlap says:

    ‘Charges of ape’ seems to be quite correct.

  • V.Lind says:

    He sounds like a total perv, but I get a little confused when I read things like “he got her to go on the pill” and “he took indecent pictures of her.” How? Doesn’t “the pill” require a prescription? Wouldn’t most doctors, especially back then, especially in Scotland, ask a young girl why she wanted it? So, already one buffer between the abuser and the abused. And how does one get “indecent” photographs if the model keeps her clothes on?

    These were not unwanted children, neglected and abandoned to predators. They had parents paying for music lessons — I realise that for the young, talking about these things to their parents might have been awkward, but surely, if they were that uncomfortable, they could have communicated that?

    He is certainly charged with much more serious things and I hope they throw the book at him. And I do not underestimate the trauma of even minor sexual advances to a young person. Whatever else, there is abuse of power in the uneven relationship. But what ever happened to young people that they are so incapable these days of knowing where lines have been crossed? Assault is assault, but how is it that even quite young — but teenage — girls can’t refuse to take a pill they otherwise had not planned to, or get themselves into a situation where they are being photographed in an indecent way?

    • Anonymous says:

      It is in fact more common than you think and not only in music. Besides my own experience at age 15-16 (my piano teacher was 35,) I met at least 4 other people in the past few years who were victim of similar experiences, sadly way worse than mine.
      It only takes an angry and insecure teenager who is unable to communicate with / not listened to by his/her parents, and someone who starts listening, becomes a friend/confidant. After the first consolatory hug(s), the limit becomes very blurry and shame and the feeling you owe this “friend” something do the rest. You might even have a crush on this “friend” and if you do, you will find a way to get a pill prescribed and will get naked in front of a camera.
      It doesn’t matter how rich or poor, how open minded or conservative the environment surrounding the minor is, although there is certainly an increased margin of risk (watch the movie Spotlight and the testimony of a few of the victims for example).
      Incredibly difficult to explain and equally difficult to understand for someone who hasn’t lived through something similar.
      You hit the nail on the head mentioning communication: these predators thrive where there is a lack of (real) communication.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        This sounds very feasible. But isn’t this one of the dangers of teenage alienation from family and parents; the traditional protectors? Instead of bragging about ‘rebellious’ teens perhaps we all need to be more mindful and appreciative of those who aren’t and who can trust their parents to confide in them.

    • Wearyofvictimblamers says:

      You clearly have no understanding of what it is like to be a teenage girl. And also, this was many many years ago you know. Not “these days”.

      And as for the pill – so what, she should have just not taken it and ended up pregnant? How would that have stopped him raping / pressurising her to have sex?

      • V.Lind says:

        It’s a big leap from not taking the pill to ending up pregnant. A man who uses the pregnancy line to “make” a girl get on the pill is still a predator, but in the case of this sort of deal-making is not quite a rapist.

        I was a teenage girl once, and had lots of pressure to have sex before I felt ready to do any such thing. (Not from teachers, granted, but some of the men I knew were a bit older as I was in an adult theatre group outside school). It often seems to me that my generation was more mature than today’s kids are at the same age. Of course we were raised with rules that were pretty clearly iterated by our parents. And most of us from stable, happy families. Anyway, I can think of no circumstance in which a teacher could have induced me to take my clothes off for a photo.

        Younger parents than mine are usually less strict. They are learning, sometimes a great deal later, that permissiveness has its costs. Youngsters without a more rigid set of rules (not all of them important — I was not allowed to wear jeans until I was 16, nor black until I was 18, to my outrage) have very little foundation upon which to base their own decisions, which are all too often not decisions but responses to pressure.

        Anyway, this man is still a predator, as he IS old enough to have known better, and one who may indeed have ferreted out the most vulnerable for his predations. He may learn a few things about power imbalances where he is headed.

    • BRUCEB says:

      Everything “Anonymous” said. Add that serial predators like this go for victims who they can tell they are likely to succeed with — they don’t try this on strong, confident girls with lots of self-esteem and good family relationships.

      (P.S. parents spending money on music lessons – or gymnastics or whatever – doesn’t always translate into them giving a shit about the kid; or maybe they do but the kid may be impossible to reach, in that impenetrable-defensive-wall-of-teenage-armor kind of way.)

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    These low-down types are easily able to insinuate themselves into ‘intimate’ occupations like teaching and religion. Perhaps some serious protocols need to be put in place to protect vulnerable students.