Just in: University’s faculty of music is blasted for racism, sexism and more

Just in: University’s faculty of music is blasted for racism, sexism and more


norman lebrecht

May 25, 2022

A law firm’s review of the University of Toronto’s faculty of music has found it guilty of racism, sexism and other violations.

In particular, the review said the faculty of music’s “conservatory culture,” which refers to its focus on Western classical music and one-on-one instruction, fosters racism, sexism and harassment.

Let’s get that straight: western classical music is now analogous with racial discrimination and sexual bullying. Is that right?

Read a summary of the report here.


  • Sasha says:

    I’m not sure the link to the report summary is working, there doesn’t seem to be anything there.

  • self control says:

    “Western classical music and one-on-one instruction, fosters racism, sexism and harassment.”
    …only if the person in charge is an arsehole or, against his or her better judgement or perhaps guided by unconscious automatic behaviour, behaves like one.

  • Hercule says:

    Well, if you put it that way…

  • DownvoteKing says:

    “Let’s get that straight: western classical music is now analogous with racial discrimination and sexual bullying. Is that right?” — NL

    It seems like western classical music institutions across the board indeed have problems with this. I think you’re on to something!

  • MacroV says:

    Have YOU read the report, Norman? Never mind the classical music part; it’s an institution, and lots of institutions have these kinds of issues. If I’m not mistaken, the Curtis Institute (which I believe you yourself relabled the “Coitus Institute”) has itself come under such scrutiny. Plus any number of faculty at other schools. Or conductors at major New York-based opera houses.

    So please spare us the Claude Raines.

  • Anon says:

    Have you read this article on Philip Ewell and antisemitism? https://www.jns.org/opinion/white-supremacy-and-the-jews-the-latest-iteration/

    “While the case is certainly not the first to pit scholars against those who use critical race theory to discredit classical studies, it demonstrates the ease with which anti-Semitic tropes of supremacy and racism are incorporated into trending ideologies—often with adherents unaware of the sordid history behind these tropes.”

    “Schenker was targeted as a white supremacist and racist, rather than as a Jewish supremacist. His Jewish identity was erased from the charges against him, as accusations of white supremacy against Jews necessitated the erasure of their non-white, Jewish identity and the accompanying context of anti-Jewish bigotry.”

    “Yet the very same CRT adherents practice “Jew blindness” when it comes to depicting Jews as white supremacists. They erase the Jews’ unique experiences of discrimination. And this paves the way for their targeting under the more acceptable aegis of social justice.”

    “And so, it was in the battle over Schenker. Among the charges leveled on social media against Jackson, whose Jewish grandparents fled persecution in Europe and whose family members perished in the Holocaust, was that he is not only an anti-black racist but one motivated by “a disguised form of anti-Semitism.””

    “The attacks against Jackson were meant to shut down academic debate about Schenker’s legacy. Any question of Schenker’s Jewish experience negating the characterization of him as a white supremacist was dismissed as evidence of the questioner’s own racism, thus keeping alive the anti-Semitic trope without resolving the question.”

    “Whatever the motivation behind such charges, one thing is certain: the vilification of Jews as racists and supremacists, disproportionate to their actions and stripped of context or nuance, is yet another iteration of an all-too-familiar anti-Semitic trope.”

  • Brian says:

    Any organization that bends a knee to these woke ideas deserves what it gets.

    • N/A says:

      Which woke ideas, Brian? Do explain.

      • Tamino says:

        These woke ideas?

        “Specifically, several participants told us that the Faculty’s conservatory model contributes to racism. Participants explained to us that the Faculty’s focus on classical music, primarily composed by white men, creates the conditions for racial discrimination.”

  • Classical and Jazz Fan says:

    Cecilia Bartoli was recently named president of Europa Nostra, the European Voice of Civil Society committed to Cultural and Natural Heritage. Its purpose is to promote
    “Europe’s priceless cultural heritage” and transmit this heritage to future generations.She said “cultural heritage is vital for our economy, our society, our culture, our environment, our well-being and for the future of Europe.”If Americans say they are proud of their European heritage, they are called racists and white nationalists. Political correctness is ridiculous.

    • V.Lind says:

      Toronto is in Canada, and the rot has spread.

      This is a very distinguished faculty of music. I have no doubt it has its share of social problems, and it is fair enough to address them. I could have wished for a law firm that was less agenda-driven: founded by two women, its marquee team of 20 includes 3 men, all white, and 3 women of colour (two without photographs have fairly Anglo-Saxon-sounding names). So their own commitment to “diversity” seems to include being anti-male.

      Most rehearsal rooms in music faculties are windowless and soundproof, for good and obvious reasons. Any student singers who do not think they might get touched in the process of being taught breathing techniques are snowflakes. Similarly, other physical contact with instrumentalists. Inappropriate behaviour should be taken up immediately, and dealt with equally swiftly. If reporting mechanisms — where reporting is appropriate — are inadequate, that indeed should be addressed.

      As EDI is here to stay — for a while — and sensitivity training seems to be a fact of any corporate culture, by all means take up the time of busy people with Rubin Thomlinson’s webinars and workshops. There are still some neanderthals kicking around universities.

      Meanwhile, welcome to the faculty, Drake!

      BTW: that photograph is not of the Faculty of Music. It’s the back of University College and the Croft Chapter House.

  • msc says:

    Having read the executive summary, it does seem like more wokeness gone mad. Having been involved with universities for most of my life, I believe there are few more left-wing institutions. There are sexists and racists, but most faculty are totally committed to sexual and racial equality. The thought that any university I know of is institutionally racist is, to me, ridiculous.

  • PaulD says:

    “Let’s get that straight: western classical music is now analogous with racial discrimination and sexual bullying. Is that right?” Go to the website of any major American orchestra, or even the one in my small city, and you’ll see plenty of, “We are racists, but will try better” statements.

  • DCB says:

    One theme identified was the Faculty’s “conservatory culture.” It was described as a culture that prioritizes performance of Western, classical music and emphasized one-on-one instruction. Seriously, what did these students think they were signing up for?

  • Tamino says:

    Wasn’t pretty much anything the US and Canada is politically and culturally built on, created by Europeans and their descendants? Political institutions, constitutions, educational institutions, etc etc. So logically thinking, that culture was supreme? Would it be wrong to teach it that way?
    Why do e.g. people from relatively well doing African countries like Kenia these days aspire to study in the US or Europe?
    We need not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
    Western culture is supreme in many aspects, its achievements are manifold and unique at its time in history.
    Of course we can consciously cultivate an culturally egalitarian system, but it will lead to decline and retardation, if the paradigm of excellence is put away with.
    We need to built on the best we have. Not destroy it for false egalitarianism. Knowledge is NOT democratic, neither is cultural excellence. Not everybody’s opinion or skill is the same.

    • MichaelA says:

      Bravo, Tamino.

    • In bocca al lupo says:

      I think this is rather despicable with wretched underlying assumptions – ‘Supreme’ ‘retardation’ etc… how appalling to talk about music, culture and thought in this way. Paradigm of excellence what utter rubbish, time to read the history of ‘civilizations’ who thought and acted in this manner. No magic in this tarnished flute alas..

      • Tamino says:

        You talk from a comfortable vantage point you never achieved yourself and can’t afford on your own. You were carried by the society and culture around you just as much. Where would classical music be without the aspiration toward excellence? Where would you be? Nowhere.
        Decadence lets us be moralists by convenience, without ever having to defend our territory. Such decadence is despicable.

        • in bocca al lupo says:

          You choose a youth right at the very start of his own personal enlightenment and as such it is a great pity your views seems so stunted, what caused your world to become so small and hollow..

          • Tamino says:

            My world is big, virtually infinite, and is growing by the day. It’s what happens when one works hard to climb mountains. All I’m saying is no to the ignorant and the lazy entitled, who refuse to climb mountains. Work hard, be your best, and be a compassionate human.
            What this has to do with youth, or age, I don’t know.
            “choosing youth” means what?

          • guest says:

            ‘choosing a youth’ may just possibly refer to your pseudonym, Tamino. Or does your virtually infinite world not extend to Mozart?

  • IP says:

    Yes. And one-to-one instruction is tantamount to harassment, to be overcome by collectivism in Mao’s glorious tradition.

  • Tamino says:

    Is the report useful for anything? While it specifies that 470 answers were given, and 134 of those were not anonymous (!), it never quantifies the issues reported. Only vaguely by “many reported” or “several said” etc.

    After reading the report, it is not even clear, if the institution – based on the blurry and mostly anonymous data used in the first place – simply reflects the average quantity of such occurrences in general, or if it is performing better or worse than the average in society.

    I have my beef with this comment:
    “Specifically, several participants told us that the Faculty’s conservatory model contributes to racism. Participants explained to us that the Faculty’s focus on classical music, primarily composed by white men, creates the conditions for racial discrimination.”

    What a hogwash. No such claims ever are made about rap music being dominated by black people and thus creating the conditions for racial discrimination. Yes, classical music is traditionally a white people’s culture. So what?

  • innocent bystander says:

    I thought stuff like this was only in the United States…looks like wokeness is catching on around the world…

  • NDA Student says:

    I experienced forced a-consensual sexual penetration (FASP) at the UofT on more than one occasion when I was a student there. The lack of windows is indeed an issue. The university uses the term FASP because the other term is racist towards black culture… this report is long overdue.

  • Arthur Kaptainis says:

    What gets me is that a downtown law firm specializing in human resources and harassment regards itself as qualified to make curriculum recommendations to one of the strongest theory departments in the country.

    From the executive summary:

    “We understand that the Faculty has revived its Teaching and Learning Committee and that one of the eventual aims of this Committee will be to consider how the Faculty’s curriculum can be more inclusive. We support this step and suggest that the Committee review how the Faculty’s course offerings, as well as the content of existing courses, can be diversified to include musical traditions, composers, and history outside of European classical music.”

    • Tamino says:

      Because curriculums these days should serve ideologies, not academic rigour itself. So the law firm is perfectly qualified to judge compliance with the prevailing (?) ideology.
      After all, individual free and critical thinking is too inconvenient. Today’s student generations require more convenient ideological models they can float along through life with. Life as a struggle was yesterday. Today it’s all about what can be done to make my life more convenient.

  • StandYourGround says:

    Lying, manipulative Propaganda.

    (If you don’t take a stand, they’ll eat you for breakfast.
    Take a stand. Stop letting the woke internationalist left… push you more and more into lying idiocy, where you compromise all sane principles, just to please a wicked scandalous group of freaks; who’ll sling mud and slime at you if you don’t comply.)

    • In bocca al lupo says:

      Goodness me, such hate. Get some therapy and try to learn to love music more then yourself.