Juilliard professor Robert Beaser suspended after allegations of sexual misconduct

A massive sexual misconduct scandal is shaking elite music school Juilliard as several teachers have been accused of discrimination and harassment – and a renowned professor has been furloughed after 500 people signed a letter denouncing his “abuse of women and power”.

Composer Robert Beaser, 68, was paused over a pattern of abuse that included soliciting sex from students – much of which was detailed in a Dec. 12 synopsis from the Upper West Side Conservatory published in VAN magazine described.

“Sexual discrimination and sexual harassment have no place in our school community. We take all of these allegations very seriously,” Rosalie Contreras, spokeswoman for Juilliard, told The Post on Wednesday when it was announced that Beaser had been furloughed.

In one case, Beaser allegedly offered to boost a former student’s career before asking her for sex in return, according to the publication.

“What will you do for me?” he allegedly said.

Beaser – who also frequently taught students at his private home – joined Juilliard’s composition department in 1993 and served as department head from 1994 to 2018.

Allegations against him were reportedly brought to the school’s attention in the 1990s and again in 2017 and 2018.

Composer Robert Beaser, center, is now on leave from teaching at the Juilliard School.
Composer Robert Beaser (center) is on leave from teaching at the Juilliard School.
Getty Images

Although the 2018 report coincided with Beaser being replaced as chair by Melinda Wagner, Contreras told VAN the decisions were unrelated.

“Allegations previously reported … in the late 1990s and 2017-18 were then investigated based on the information provided,” she told the Post.

“However, to verify new information and better understand these previous allegations, the current school administration launched an independent investigation on December 8.”

Juilliard is widely recognized as one of the top conservatoires in the world.
Juilliard is widely recognized as one of the top conservatoires in the world.
Getty Images

According to the Daily Mail, Provost Andy Meyer told the faculty in a Dec. 16 email that Beaser “will be retiring from his teaching duties” while an investigation is being conducted.

The decision to furlough Beaser also coincided with the release of an open letter signed by 500 musicians, composers and other leading musicians denouncing his “decades of abuse of women and power”.

Beaser did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment, though he did tell VAN he would “co-operate” with the investigation.

The late Christopher Rouse (left) and Robert Beaser (right) are accused of sexual misconduct towards female composition students.
The late Christopher Rouse (left) and Robert Beaser (right) are accused of sexual misconduct towards female composition students.
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In addition to Beaser, the VAN play detailed the alleged wrongdoing of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and faculty member Christopher Rouse, who composer Suzanne Farrin says attempted to kiss her after a dinner to start her audition for to discuss the doctoral program in 2001.

After she “thrown out of his arms and … ran away,” Farrin told the magazine, her Juilliard application was rejected. When she called to report the incident, an administrator insisted Rouse was a “huge supporter” of her music.

“They were prepared for my call,” Farrin recalled.

Composer Suzanne Farrin says Christopher Rouse tried to kiss her after dinner to discuss her audition for the doctoral program.
Composer Suzanne Farrin says Christopher Rouse tried to kiss her after dinner to discuss her audition for the doctoral program.
International Contemporary Ensemble

The VAN article also includes a claim by eight female graduates that another faculty member, Oscar-winning composer John Corigliano, rarely accepted female students.

“It was said like a joke,” alumna Cristina Spinei told the outlet. “‘You couldn’t study with him’ or something.”

Although faculty associate Samuel Adler confirmed that Corigliano did not take female students “in the beginning,” Corigliano denied the allegations to the magazine.

Robert Beaser's behavior was previously reported to Juilliard officials in the late 1990s and 2017-18.
Robert Beaser’s behavior was previously reported to Juilliard officials in the late 1990s and 2017-18.
AFP via Getty Images

“It saddens me to read that eight formerly of the Juilliard students told you that there was an unwritten policy by which they realized I prefer men to women,” he said.

“Such a position was neither my preference nor my policy. It has been a great pleasure for me to work with many very talented young men and women in my long career as a teacher.”

Corigliano didn’t respond to the Post’s request for comment.

Oscar winner John Corigliano is accused of not accepting female students.
Oscar winner John Corigliano is accused of not accepting female students.
WireImage

Several of the alumni cited in the VAN story felt it was long overdue to acknowledge Juilliard’s troubled culture.

“I wouldn’t even call it an open secret. I’d just call it frank,” said film composer and Juilliard graduate Laura Karpman of the campus sexual assaults. “These women feel incredibly vulnerable. If they speak up, they have no protection… They have no guarantee that anyone will listen.”

Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, another composition major, echoed Karpman’s view, saying that female students felt safe studying with “less than half” the faculty.

One alum called out the sexual misconduct on campus "open" Output.
One alum called the sexual misconduct on campus an “open” topic.
AFP via Getty Images

Founded in 1905, Juilliard is widely regarded as one of the most elite conservatoires in the world. With a respected alumni community of award-winning actors, musicians and dancers, composer Sarah Kirkland Snider argued that the school has “outrageous responsibilities.”

“If you pride yourself on being the best in the country or the world, then people look to you for their standards and expectations,” said Snider, who has never attended Juilliard. “Teachers in other schools knew about it, they referred to it. It became a joke, a constant punch line.”

Corigliano denied the allegations against him.
Corigliano denied the allegations against him.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

In her statement to The Post, Contreras said the school remains “dedicated to providing a safe and supportive environment for everyone”.

“We are unable to comment further as confidentiality is paramount to the integrity of the investigation and discussing cases could discourage individuals from sharing their experiences,” she concluded.

https://nypost.com/2022/12/21/juilliard-prof-robert-beaser-on-leave-after-sexual-misconduct-allegations/ Juilliard professor Robert Beaser suspended after allegations of sexual misconduct

JACLYN DIAZ

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