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Conductor at heart of New York sex abuse school claims

A former student at the Horace Mann School has filed suit against the school, claiming it covered up the sexual abuse he suffered from the music director, Johannes Somary. The conductor, he claims, wooed the teenaged student at expensive joints and swore eternal love during the course of the 1970s affair. The plaintiff, who is not named, says he was shocked to discover that Somary was preying on other pupils as well. ‘I was devastated and repulsed by the thought that I was not truly loved by the man who had taken me under his spell,’ he said, through an attorney.

Somary, who died in 2011, was named last year in a New York Times investigation into the Horace Mann school. In all, 32 students say they were abused. The school is in talks to settle a host of damages claims.

Somary, Swiss born, led the US premieres of three Handel operas and made some 50 commercial recordings. He was married with three children.


In England, sentence is expected to be passed this week in Manchester on Michael Brewer, convicted of indecent assault on a 14 year-old student at Chetham’s School of Music. 

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  1. James Dean says:

    I suppose he was the only artist who had homosexual inclinations??????

    • Judith Lynn says:

      Of course not. But he was the only person who was music director at that school at that time and abused his position and his power with teenage children at the school.

  2. From what has been revealed lately after years of silence by former music students, it seems that many famous and respected musicians and singers thought they had a right to take liberties with those young students to whom they took a fancy. For all those now seeking recompense for the abuse they suffered in their youth, I think there are many who will never face up to the devastating reality that the “special relationship” they shared with a revered and idolised mentor (often many years older than themselves – and usually married) was a form of abuse rather than mutual love.

  3. Somary is dead (unlike many of the perpetrators in the Manchester scandal.)

    Like with Manchester this is wrong, and there is no place for it in music education whether he was the first (and no doubts there will be others.

    However, he is dead, and even if there is a post-humous trial with compensation for victims, it is far better to concentrate on prevention. Do remember with the Michael Brewer trail a woman committed suicide, and with his colleague Malcolm Layfield there had been an attempt to blow the Whistle made by Martin Roscoe (that was ignored – a lesson that can be learnt for the future).

    There is no point sweeping this under the carpet, but please, no witch hunt either. The horse has bolted from this stable, please secure the latches on the doors where the horses are still in place.

    • Spot on.
      In this age of inflamed rhetoric and upheaval, a sensible voice is tough to hear, but our only and best defense is reasoned vigilance not vigilantes.

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