If the Juilliard School is the big tree, then 500 musicians are the small axe.
Last week, VAN magazine published a bombshell report detailing allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against several Juilliard faculty members. Days later, an open letter signed by more than 500 members of the music community called on the Juilliard administration to place composer Robert Beaser on administrative leave from the faculty of the Juilliard School. The school took the note, placing Beaser on leave Friday, December 16.
Juilliard provost Adam Meyer said in a letter to composition faculty members last Friday: “In light of the ongoing investigation, and following discussions with Bob [Beaser] earlier this afternoon, we want to notify you that Bob will step away from his teaching duties and other faculty responsibilities while the investigation is being conducted,” according to the Washington Post. “This change will be effective immediately.”
Beaser faces multiple allegations from the late 1990s and 2000s, ranging from repeated advances to sexual relationships with students. “Other young composers in the department believe these relationships influenced Beaser’s decision-making as department chair,” reported VAN, which spent six months investigating Juilliard’s composition department. The German publication also found that “Juilliard’s Title IX coordinator was made aware of these allegations in 2018,” but was unable to determine what next steps the coordinator took once they found out.
“Sexual discrimination and sexual harassment have no place in our school community. We take all such allegations extremely seriously,” said Juilliard spokesperson Rosalie Contreras in a statement to the New York Post.
VAN also identified alleged sexual misconduct by the late Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and Juilliard faculty member Christopher Rouse. Suzanne Farrin spoke to VAN about the night after her spring 2001 audition with Rouse for Juilliard’s elite composition program. Farrin claims Rouse tried to kiss her. She said, “I sort of twirled out of his arms and ran away.” Her application was later rejected. Farrin still has no idea if her rejection was based on her music or her rebuff of Rouse.
Oscar-winning composer and faculty member John Corigliano is also named in the VAN report, with claims from eight female graduates who attended Juilliard in the 1990s and 2000s that he almost never accepted female-identifying students.
Founded in 1905, Juilliard is considered one of the premier performing arts conservancies there is. Notable students include Steve Reich, Kelsey Grammar, Christopher Reeve and countless more.