Marcel Gazelle and the Culture of the Early Yehudi Menuhin School

[To view or sign the re-opened petition for a public inquiry into abuse in musical education, please click here ]

The recent broadcast from Channel 4 News, following a painstaking investigation, has resulted in the late Belgian pianist Marcel Gazelle (1907-1969), the first Director of Music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, being named as a serial abuser of young girls. In particular, the brave testimony of Irita Kutchmy, who chose to allow herself to be filmed and named, brings home the horror of this. No criminal charges are possible since Gazelle died in 1969, but the ease with which he appeared to be able to continue his activities unchecked, and the length of time during which they have remained secret, should give room for reflection.

But who was Marcel Gazelle? His is not a particularly familiar name today, and plenty of musical dictionaries omit him. Yet he was of very great importance both to Menuhin himself and to the school he founded; Menuhin described Gazelle as ‘among the dearest and most valued of my friends and colleagues’, and wrote in his autobiography that ‘few men have played a greater part in my history than Marcel’. Gazelle also played a pivotal part in the whole ethos of the school at which he worked; Menuhin described him as ‘the school’s foster father’. As no book, article or website appears to give a particularly comprehensive view of his life and work, here I draw upon a range of sources in an attempt to provide such a thing and explain his crucial role in the early years of the school, and a wider picture of the culture of the place at this time.

Marcel Gazelle was born in Ghent in 1907. He studied at the conservatory in the city, working with Marcel Ciampi (who also taught Menuhin’s sister Hephzibah) from 1928, after finishing his Premier Prix. Gazelle at this stage already developed serious problems of tendonitis, which may have affected his inability to sustain a solo career. He appears to have first met Menuhin around 1933, when they began to play together. In autumn 1934, Menuhin undertook a major twelve-month tour of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, before returning to Europe. For this tour Menuhin replaced his sister Hephzibah as his pianist with Gazelle, cementing their working relationship. Clearly Menuhin enjoyed the practicalities of playing and touring with Gazelle, later writing that he found him from the beginning ‘a born solver of difficulties, painlessly dispatching in the early days the problems of travel, luggage, timetable, rendezvous’.

At some point in the late 1930s, Gazelle married the French violinist Jacqueline Salomons, a childhood friend of Menuhin who had worked together with him and George Enesco in chamber music sessions from 1931, though according to Yaltah, the younger sister of Menuhin, this was a rather forced marriage brought about by match-making activities on the part of their mother Marutha Menuhin. Gazelle’s first major teaching position was at his own alma mater, the Ghent Conservatory, where he began at some point before the war. He was now playing and recording regularly with Menuhin; by 1939 their recordings including works of Sarasate, Dvorák-Kreisler, and Brahms-Joachim.

According to the account by Menuhin, Gazelle was caught in Belgium at the time of the German invasion of May 1940, but managed somehow to smuggle himself out as part of the retreat from Dunkirk, escaping to London where he joined the Free Belgian forces. Jacqueline escaped the occupation independently and found her way to Lisbon, only managing to become reunited with Marcel in London in 1942. During the war years Gazelle played various concerts in the UK, including an appearance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Anatole Fistoulari in December 1943, a concert with Jacqueline at the Wigmore Hall on February 12th, 1944, and a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall on September 30th, 1944. Gazelle also played in a piano quartet in London during this period, together with Maurice Raskin and Rodolphe Soirin and Léonard Ardenois. His playing was described in 1944 as demonstrating ‘an ease and a coolness which nothing can disturb’; another critic wrote that ‘his technique was equally polished’ as that of Menuhin.

Gazelle and Menuhin were reunited in the spring of 1943, after Menuhin had travelled back to London, and the two performed all over Britain soon afterwards, including concerts at factories, at military installations, at concert halls for wartime charities, and for Free French forces in the Royal Albert Hall. They also produced a series of 78 rpm records, including Bach’s Air on a G String and Schubert’s Ave Maria, for wartime listening.

A few days after Gazelle’s Wigmore recital, Menuhin and Gazelle travelled to Europe (where the Allied landing had taken place earlier that year), reaching Brussels on October 2nd. They gave concerts in both Brussels (at the Palais des Beaux-Arts) and Antwerp, and were invited to a dinner in the latter city. in a building close to the vacated Gestapo headquarters. After Antwerp was deemed unsafe, the two returned to Brussels, then hitchhiked their way on an American plane to Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris, before being taken in a jeep to the centre of the city. Here the two booked into the Ritz and were reunited with old musician friends including Gazelle’s old teacher Ciampi. They made it back to London (in a plane which had to make a forced landing in a field in Kent due to electrical failure) in time for Menuhin to make it to the BBC wartime studios in Bedford to broadcast the Bartók Second Violin Concerto.

Two days after VE Day Gazelle performed in the National Gallery together with violinist Maurice Raskin. Menuhin and Gazelle continued to perform and record together regularly in the post-war era (Gazelle generally undertaking Menuhin’s European tours, with Adolph Baller accompanying the violinist in America), including a trip to South Africa in 1950, and of India in 1952. Gazelle continued to teach in Ghent; one of his students then was American pianist and teacher Phyllis Bergquist Billington, who was in Belgium as a Fulbright Scholar in the early 1950s. Gazelle and his wife gave the world premiere in 1958 of the Violin Sonata No. 2 by the Polish-born, Dutch-naturalised composer Ignace Lilién (1897-1964), and Gazelle himself premiered the Piano Concerto of Jules-Toussaint de Sutter in 1960.

During a concert tour of the Soviet Union in 1962, Menuhin visited the Central School for Young Musicians in Moscow; his wife Diana would come to write:

‘However the morning we spent there held a current of anonymity and drill that was disturbing. Dear little monsters aged four or five or six, their pigtails pinned to the crowns of their heads, whipped their way through Chopin and Liszt and all the showy composers with a cool competence that was at once admirable though alarming. Later we heard older boys and girls who had grduated to more serious but still dramatic works, showing their paces with a skill and perfection of execution that also left one baffled. Especially perplexing was the weird withholding of all names either of the performer or – particularly – of the teacher. These were gifted and well-tooled machines, part of the state’s organization and property for home consumption and export. Hephzibah remained silent; Yehudi was obviously more determined than ever to bring to the West his own version of such training.’

Menuhin believed that up until the 1970s ‘the Soviet Union led the world’ in terms of musical education, despite his having been fiercely critical of Soviet musical policy in the early post-war era and had some altercations with Russian and Czech military policy in the same era. In the spring of 1963, he sent Gazelle, together with violinist Alberto Lysy (1935-2009) to visit the Moscow school, in order to bring back an impression of how the children’s days were organized in a manner which could provide a blueprint for their own plans. Menuhin said that the Moscow Central School was the ‘working model’ for his own, but in his autobiography described the differences between the two as follows: in Moscow there were 300 students, whereas he began with 15 (this would grow to 32 in 1965, 36 in 1969, 38 in 1972, 62 by 1983); Moscow trained soloists, whereas Menuhin wanted to produce musical all-rounders who could also work in teaching, chamber groups or orchestras – he noted that a society supposedly so founded upon the collective geared its musical education towards producing individual performers.

The Yehudi Menuhin School was the second such specialist music institution in the UK, the Central Tutorial School for Young Musicians (later to become the Purcell School) having opened in 1962 (Chetham’s would become a specialist music school in 1969, Wells’ Cathedral School in 1970, and St Mary’s Music School in 1972, with Menuhin as patron). The Menuhin School was opened in September 1963, using premises in London acquired by pedagogue Grace Cone for her Arts Educational Trust; music lessons and all bedrooms were at the Prince of Wales Hotel (now destroyed), whilst academic lessons were held at the Trust’s classrooms near Piccadilly. The first committee included the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, Lady Fermoy, Sir Miki Sekers, the Countess of Strafford, Lord Mottistone, Mr Paul Paget and others. In 1964 the school transferred to new premises within a fifteen-acre parkland in Stoke d’Abernon, twenty-five miles south-west of London. Charitable donations and proceeds from auction of various donated works of art by the likes of Oskar Kokoschka and Henry Moore enabled the mortgage on the property to be almost completely settled within seven years. In the autumn of the second year a BBC2 masterclass featured a lesson with a seven-year old Nigel Kennedy, who had just joined the school that year.

Menuhin himself initially selected many of the stuents himselves, of which around a third were girls. The initial fees were £450 per year. The school taught just five instruments: violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano. Menuhin called upon Frederick Grinke, who was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music for recommendations for teachers. The early teachers included Gazelle and Barbara Kerslake on piano, George Malcolm on harpsichord, Grinke himself, Robert Masters, Alberto Lysy, Jacqueline Gazelle and Margaret Norris on violin, Lionel Tertis on viola, Christopher Bunting, Maurice Gendron and Myra Chahin on cello. Peter Norris (who remained at the school for a long period), husband of Margaret, taught chamber music and worked on aural training. Visiting teachers would include Marcel Ciampi and Nadia Boulanger, and others who came to visit included Stéphane Grappelli and Ravi Shankar. The first headmaster was Anthony Brackenbury, who had come from teaching classics at Bryanston, then as head of sixth form studies at a London comprehensive for two years.

Gazelle not only taught piano and co-ordinated musical activities in the school, but also, according to the book Menuhin’s House of Music, took charge of solfège, sight-singing, transposition, theory, harmony and even some musical history, though one former student does not recall him giving lessons in any of these himself. He would spend about four days of each week during term time at the school, the remainder being spent at Ghent. His piano students at the school included Ronan Magill, Jacqueline Cole, Mike Stanley, and briefly Menuhin’s own son Jeremy, who stayed at the school only for a short while before being despatched to Eton. Other students from the first year of the school’s existence included violinists David Angel (now a member of the Maggini Quartet together with later student Michal Kaznowski), Mary Eade, Rosemary Furniss and Elizabeth Perry. In the second year they were joined by various others including Marcia Crayford (who would come to teach at the school by 1969), Levine Andrade, Catherine Stevens (daughter of composer Bernard Stevens and violinist Bertha Stevens), Nigel Kennedy and then in the next few years by Colin Carr, Irita Kutchmy. Kathryn Stott, Michal Kaznowski and others. Various individuals have spoken about how they were made to feel that it would be an incredible honour to be studying piano with Menuhin’s accompanist; Gazelle would be friendly and charming towards parents.

The daily schedules were gruelling. All students had to put in at least three hours’ practice per day, and for their more regular education were divided into three age groups. Daily activities would start at seven o’clock each morning for the younger children, 6:30 for the over-twelves at least twice a week. Classes on general musicianship, including ear tests, dictation, identifying chords and modulations, and so on, would take place before breakfast. Then the youngest pupils would have lessons whilst older ones practised their instruments under adult supervision, followed by a mid-morning break in which Brackenbury would lead the older children in ‘physical jerks’. There was a short but compulsory twenty-minute rest on beds after lunchtime, then the school day proceeded up until 6pm. Events happened practically every evening, which could be students playing, singing or acting, puppet plays, or once every week a concert given by teachers. Yoga teaching, and later t’ai chi, were prominent at the school due to Menuhin’s enthusiasm for these practices; an Indian Mr Iyengar visited in the first year on three occasions to give yoga classes to the children.

Gazelle would allegedly enter the younger girls’ rooms to wake them up and would touch them under their bed clothes as they lay there. The older girls suffered an even more intrusive wake up call. Several girls at the school during the 1960s have claimed that he groomed them and then sexually abused them repeatedly over several years, leading to lifelong severe mental and sexual problems and often an inability to go near the school again (an attitude shared by many others claiming to have suffered non-sexual, but severe psychological and emotional abuse at the same school). His activities were not talked about leading many to believe that they were the only ones to suffer that fate, only discovering relatively recently that others had also been abused. In lessons he would sometimes have his arm placed continuously around some girls, the smoke from his Gitane cigarettes wafting into their nostrils. He also instilled fear in many due to his temper, leading some to feel they needed to feign enjoyment of his ‘attentions’ in order to avoid his anger.

Gazelle is also alleged to have employed a technique which is eerily near-identical to that of which I have heard from other teachers in other institutions. This involved reducing students to tears regularly at the beginning of lessons, by cruelly berating them for how they played, completely undermining their confidence (obliviously to whether they might be ill or anything else), so as then to be able to take them on his knee to comfort and cuddle them, thus exploiting vulnerability as a strategy for control.

Mental and emotional cruelty and manipulation were allegedly equally common from other teachers there. The cello teacher Maurice Gendron is claimed to have systematically reduced students to tears in practically every lesson, whilst projecting outwards the symptoms of his morphine addiction, and would quiz students on their sex life and masturbation habits (Kaznowski’s account of Gendron’s activities can be found here). Jacqueline Gazelle was remembered as pointedly staring at the floor when students would make the slightest slip in a concert, then refusing to say a word to them afterwards. Boys would queue up at the toilets before her lessons out of fright. She is remembered to have had ferocious tantrums and would throw their music on the floor and insult them mercilessly, almost taking pleasure in causing them distress – students would emerge from her lessons crying and shaking. Barbara Kerslake is recalled to have had a characteristic trick of slamming the piano lid down on children’s hands whilst they were playing. Others’ teaching would simply consist of picking up their instrument and playing something perfectly so as to shame the child by comparison. Humiliation of pupils was common, and they were made to think that those who had left because of the pressure were merely failures, an epithet they themselves dreaded. On the other hand, the school liked to parade those it saw as its successes in front of the media and visiting royals – there was even a point where students regularly appeared on Savile’s Jim’ll Fix It. The idea that children need reassurance and help, rather than just criticism, appears to have passed various teachers by, though some have spoken fondly in particular of Margaret Norris.

The tortuous environment caused children to run away, be expelled, shoplift, or even set the building on fire deliberately. Some children claimed to be being abused by a parent, and no-one believed them or cared. One member of staff is alleged to have had a public affair with another whilst the former’s spouse and children were living on campus; another, whose family also lived on the premises, had an relationship with a young student on and off campus. Empty beds were the tell-tale sign that pupils were being ‘tended to’ elsewhere.

As mentioned above, Gazelle continued to teach at Ghent alongside his activities at the Menuhin School. The student of his during this time who would go on to achieve greatest prominence was the conductor Philippe Herreweghe who studied piano with Gazelle. Herreweghe would in a 2011 interview list his work with Gazelle as amongst the most important encounters in his life, alongside those with Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Christoph Prégardien. Other of Gazelle’s Belgian students in the late 1960s were the pianists Roland de Munck and Jan Rispens, pianist and composer François Glorieux, and Abel Matthijs, professor at the Brussels Conservatoire. He made a recording on HMV in 1968 with violinist Robert Masters (to be his successor as Director of Music at the school) and cellist Derek Simpson of Nikos Skalkottas’s Eight Variations on a Greek Folk Tune. Gazelle died from lung cancer in February 1969, having smoked since the age of six or seven.

Menuhin’s own knowledge of the activities of Gazelle and others at his school remain an open question – perhaps some further information could be found through research into correspondence at the Yehudi Menuhin Archive housed at the Royal Academy of Music. The school had been designed so as to function without his presence, and he was listed simply as a visiting teacher, though his influence was widely felt at all levels; when he would visit once or twice a term, all other activities were suspended so he could spend time with each pupil.

Menuhin said of Gazelle that ‘from the beginning he fitted so easily into my family it was as if I had suddenly been given an older brother’. The 1969 book Menuhin’s House of Music, with text by Delius’s collaborator Eric Fenby, provides today for a grim read for those with some knowledge of what else was going on. Fenby wrote of Gazelle: ‘Dedicated absolutely to his profession, he gives himself unsparingly in his teaching, expecting nothing but the best response; implanting disciplines where needed and imbuing confidence in all. Clearly he earns his pupils’ trust and personal regard in return’. All of these comments need to be re-interpreted and re-assessed in light of the ominous allegations now coming to light.

The violinist Nigel Kennedy said ten years ago (quoted in ‘Kennedy reveals abuse at music school’, The Observer, Sunday September 28th, 2003) that young girls were sexually abused during his time at the school, pointing out that he himself at age eight would be at the receiving end of a teacher’s disaffections for being perceived as a rival for a girl. Kennedy did not name any perpetrators or victims, but carefully pointed out ‘Maybe it’s very close to religion, music. If you’ve got someone who’s like a guru figure, you probably might think what they’re doing is right’. Various of Kennedy’s contemporaries from the time read this and were immediately aware to whom he was referring. Now Kennedy has been prepared to name Gazelle and make public his very mixed feelings about the school he attended.

As with the case of Michael Brewer, and allegations about Malcolm Layfield, Ryszard Bakst and Chris Ling at Chetham’s, it is maybe to be anticipated that we will hear about how these are ‘historic’ cases, which could never happen today. I very much hope this is indeed the case, but from former pupils at the Menuhin School alone I have heard a range of disturbing allegations about various types of abuse during the 1980s and 1990s. All allegations do need to be treated as such and properly investigated, and all alleged perpetrators should rightly be considered innocent until they are proved guilty. But overwhelming numbers of allegations point to a situation whereby children at specialist music schools are in a position of high vulnerability to abuse and cruelty, in which this is often accepted as being par for the course within such training, and in which such abuse is covered-up, or pressure put on victims to stay quiet, in order to protect the reputations of both teachers and institutions. All aspects of the working, teaching and administration of these institutions needs urgent investigation and reappraisal. Major studies of musical education were produced for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 1965 (‘Making Musicians’) and 1978 (‘Training Musicians’). Another thorough survey taking seriously everything else which has transpired or is in the process of transpiring is needed as soon as possible.

With immense thanks to all of those who have spoken to me about abuse at the Menuhin School and elsewhere, some of which (with permission) has informed the above, and others who looked at this piece before publication. And to everyone working for change in musical education.

[Some small edits made, 9/5/13 and 11/5/13. With many thanks to several former YMS students, and also to Didier Gazelle, who sent me corrections of a few factual matters]

[UPDATE: Michael Kaznowski has spoken at length about Maurice Gendron in a powerful article in the Independent, which can be read here. A documentary about Gendron can be viewed here. ]

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42 Comments on “Marcel Gazelle and the Culture of the Early Yehudi Menuhin School”

  1. Judith christian says:

    I played for Marcel Gazelle when I was 10. He phoned my mother a year later and asked for me to audition again. There was one place for piano..Jeremy Menuhin got it.. My mother was told that there had been quite a discussion over it. I remember him quite well, even though I was so young and it was 48 years ago. I ended up going to Chet’s and being taught by Bakst…why am I feeling so sick I wonder?

  2. Michal Kaznowski says:

    Fantastic article Ian. Spot on.

  3. Shocking and horrible to read, but glad it is coming out after all these years. Thank you for writing it. I really hope that bringing all this abuse out in the open starts a sea change in musical education. Sexual abuse is terrible, but so is emotional and psychological abuse and that is still continuing in the musical teaching world. It really needs to stop.

  4. Clare Redfarn says:

    Marcel Gazelle heard me play at a music festival and wrote several letters to my mother (who was my teacher) asking her to bring me to the new school in Stoke d’Abernon. So I auditioned for him when I was 7. The only thing I particularly remember was my amazement that my mummy could talk to him when I couldn’t understand a word he said – he had a thick Flemish accent and when he gave me aural tests she had to repeat the question before I could answer him. My mother remembers looking around the school and meeting some of the other children – one little girl about my age had her cardigan buttoned wrongly and Mum wasn’t happy that none of the staff had bothered to put it right for her, including the matron. In the train home Mum asked me how I’d liked it and did I want to go there, and apparently I looked straight at her and said, “If you send me there I shall run away”. So that was it – we arrived home, Mum told Dad and they turned my place down. I ended up at the RAM Junior School when I was 10 instead.

  5. Didier gazelle. Son of Marcel Gazelle and Jacqueline salomons, and proud to be. says:

    It looks to me that times have changed. What was acceptable 50 years ago, is now considered as an offence. I think the all situation as described in this article, has to be seen in this light. I like to testify here, that my parents formed a good couple and that my father always showed great affection for his pupils also in presence of my mother, and that nobody, at that time was thinking this was evil. Where is the limit between affection and sexual abuse? It certainly evoluated during the last 5 decades to become a very well selling media item. Your article is showing many negative aspects of the Menuhin school and the involved persons. But similarly, you can find thousands of positive reports, some of which you are honestly mentioning.
    It is very sad to me to see the symbols of admiration treated like this, and I hope other testimonia would show all the positive hidden behind this dirtyness.

    • Mark Barrett says:

      @ Monsieur Didier Gazelle – I realise it may be extremely distressing as his son for you to read what Ian has taken great courage to write about here but I am profoundly shocked by your response notwithstanding. Do you seriously and in all conscience believe that ANY of the practices described by Ian, by Mr Kennedy and others would, even then, have been considered acceptable behaviour by someone in whose care parents had placed their children? As if the intimidation by smoke and bullying were not enough, the alleged sexual predation is a matter of shame to an extreme degree that has tarnished the reputations of schools and, clearly, several hitherto respected teachers. So tainted are some of these that no musical note is worth playing by a student if this is a price that would EVER have been consider acceptable. When so many people have courageously come forward with terrible reports, you do your late father and mother no good by not “thinking that this was evil” or trying to pass off such alleged behaviour as “affection”. I shudder to wonder what world you inhabit if you consider such practices to be anything resembling “affection”. It is the level of my shock that has prompted my response – otherwise, however you may feel, you would have been best advisd to keep such views to yourself.

      • Didier gazelle. Son of Marcel Gazelle and Jacqueline salomons, and proud to be. says:

        Your response is infinitely narrow minded and one side thinking. Considering smoke as sexual abuse is so ridiculous that I cannot stop laughing. Considering an angry reaction of my mother as sexual abuse is even more ridiculous. And considering affection as a terrrible behaviour is the question of the day. As a conclusion, I think what you said is that affection is evil and has to be banned from human behaviour

        • Mark Barrett says:

          Once again, I am shocked – you appear to ignore that very serious allegations of sexual misconduct have been made, referring to behaviour that you appear to believe would once have been accepted as “affection”. That is what I am primarily talking about. There is the issue of serious psychological intimidation referred to elsewhere on Ian’s blog. What are your feelings towards the child above who said he wanted to run away? What do you consider right or affectionate about placing arms round children’s shoulders and the smoke from Gitanes wafting int o their nostrils. What would you say about this: “(He) is also alleged to have employed a technique which is eerily near-identical to that of which I have heard from other teachers in other institutions. This involved reducing students to tears regularly at the beginning of lessons, by cruelly berating them for how they played, completely undermining their confidence (obliviously to whether they might be ill or anything else), so as then to be able to take them on his knee to comfort and cuddle them, thus exploiting vulnerability as a strategy for control”? And do you seriously expect us to believe that accusations of sexual misconduct are the product of “a well selling media item”? There is a vast difference between affection and the substance of these alleged offences on the bodies and psyches of young students. This must be exposed for the sake of those who have suffered – the reputations of so-called teachers are as nothing compared to this and, if they deserve to be confined to the depths of criminal behaviour, so be it. These were young people place in the care of professional teachers ‘in loco parentis’, let this not be forgotten.

          • Didier gazelle. Son of Marcel Gazelle and Jacqueline salomons, and proud to be. says:

            I still believe this is not sexual abuse. Sexual abuse involves sex, and sex is quite different from the action described above. It the light of the nowadays mentality, I think this could be defined as mental pressure. It was a, probably unfortunate, aspect of education methods in the past, and was generally tolerated. now, it is considered as a crime. Real sexual abuse, involving sexual actions, was at that time already considered as a crime, and my father was certainly absolutly aware of this. let us please drop the term sexual abuse, which really refers to horrible behaviour, and as I already pleaded, consider the described actions in the light of the mentality of the period in which they happened.

  6. Didier gazelle. Son of Marcel Gazelle and Jacqueline salomons, and proud to be. says:

    Finally, a reasonable reaction which I fully support.

    quote:

    Menuhin Student says:

    February 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm
    May I say, as a former student of the YMS who spent 5 years there, that this is utterly unnecessary.

    We do not need “publicly monitored pastoral change” in musical education establishments. We do not need instrumental teachers to be further vetted when the vast majority of them are guilt-free. And we do not need thess unfortunate yet isolated indicidents to be further perpetuated by your incendiary pseudo-journalism.

    I, and many of my colleagues, owe a huge debt to the YMS – an institution that (at least for my time there) was run with genuine care, love and a conscientous stewardship of the students’ welfare as well as their musical talents.

    Please drop this and find something better to do.

    Unquote

  7. Didier gazelle. Son of Marcel Gazelle and Jacqueline salomons, and proud to be. says:

    Marcel Gazelle and the Culture of the Early Yehudi Menuhin School
    COMMENT:
    As this very interesting blog contains serious allegations against my father, I would like to comment point per point on the following paragraphs.
    (Didier Gazelle).
    END OF COMMENT
    The recent broadcast from Channel 4 News, following a painstaking investigation, has resulted in the late Belgian pianist Marcel Gazelle (1907-1969), the first Director of Music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, being named as a serial abuser of young girls. In particular, the brave testimony of Irita Kutchmy, who chose to allow herself to be filmed and named, brings home the horror of this. No criminal charges are possible since Gazelle died in 1969, but the ease with which he appeared to be able to continue his activities unchecked, and the length of time during which they have remained secret, should give room for reflection.
    But who was Marcel Gazelle? His is not a particularly familiar name today, and plenty of musical dictionaries omit him. Yet he was of very great importance both to Menuhin himself and to the school he founded; Menuhin described Gazelle as ‘among the dearest and most valued of my friends and colleagues’, and wrote in his autobiography that ‘few men have played a greater part in my history than Marcel’. Gazelle also played a pivotal part in the whole ethos of the school at which he worked; Menuhin described him as ‘the school’s foster father’. As no book, article or website appears to give a particularly comprehensive view of his life and work, here I draw upon a range of sources in an attempt to provide such a thing and explain his crucial role in the early years of the school, and a wider picture of the culture of the place at this time.
    Marcel Gazelle was born in Ghent in 1907. He studied at the conservatory in the city, working with Marcel Ciampi (who also taught Menuhin’s sister Hephzibah) from 1928, after finishing his Premier Prix. Gazelle at this stage already developed serious problems of tendonitis, which may have affected his inability to sustain a solo career. He appears to have first met Menuhin around 1933, when they began to play together. In autumn 1934, Menuhin undertook a major twelve-month tour of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, before returning to Europe. For this tour Menuhin replaced his sister Hephzibah as his pianist with Gazelle, cementing their working relationship. Clearly Menuhin enjoyed the practicalities of playing and touring with Gazelle, later writing that he found him from the beginning ‘a born solver of difficulties, painlessly dispatching in the early days the problems of travel, luggage, timetable, rendezvous’.
    COMMENT:
    I never heard my father was suffering of tendonitis. Is it not strange that Menuhin, who was a highly sensitive man, would appreciate my father as he did, and did not detect any negative beheaviour which could be associated with ” sexual abuse”? They travelled the world around, and my father was during these years in close contact with Hepzibah and Yalta Menuhin, who appreciated him a lot. END OF COMMENT
    At some point in the late 1930s, Gazelle married the French violinist Jacqueline Salomons, a childhood friend of Menuhin who had worked together with him and George Enesco in chamber music sessions from 1931, though according to Yaltah, the younger sister of Menuhin, this was a rather forced marriage brought about by match-making activities on the part of their mother Marutha Menuhin. Gazelle’s first major teaching position was at his own alma mater, the Ghent Conservatory, where he began at some point before the war. He was now playing and recording regularly with Menuhin; by 1939 their recordings including works of Sarasate, Dvorák-Kreisler, and Brahms-Joachim.
    COMMENT:
    I never heard that the marriage of my parents was arranged by Marita Menuhin. Menuhin writes in his memoires that he cherished her. My mother told me at various occasions that she did not want to become Mss Menuhin, as it involved a too big responsibility, and too much limelight and it would end her own career. END OF COMMENT
    According to the account by Menuhin, Gazelle was caught in Belgium at the time of the German invasion of May 1940, but managed somehow to smuggle himself out as part of the retreat from Dunkirk, escaping to London where he joined the Free Belgian forces. Jacqueline escaped the occupation independently and found her way to Lisbon, only managing to become reunited with Marcel in London in 1944. During the war years Gazelle played various concerts in the UK, including an appearance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Anatole Fistoulari in December 1943, a concert with Jacqueline at the Wigmore Hall on February 12th, 1944, and a solo recital at the Wigmore Hall on September 30th, 1944. Gazelle also played in a piano quartet in London during this period, together with Maurice Raskin and Rodolphe Soirin and Léonard Ardenois. His playing was described in 1944 as demonstrating ‘an ease and a coolness which nothing can disturb’; another critic wrote that ‘his technique was equally polished’ as that of Menuhin.
    COMMENT:
    My parents were reunited in London in 1942, not 1944.
    END OF COMMENT
    Gazelle and Menuhin were reunited in the spring of 1943, after Menuhin had travelled back to London, and the two performed all over Britain soon afterwards, including concerts at factories, at military installations, at concert halls for wartime charities, and for Free French forces in the Royal Albert Hall. They also produced a series of 78 rpm records, including Bach’s Air on a G String and Schubert’s Ave Maria, for wartime listening.
    A few days after Gazelle’s Wigmore recital, Menuhin and Gazelle travelled to Europe (where the Allied landing had taken place earlier that year), reaching Brussels on October 2nd. They gave concerts in both Brussels (at the Palais des Beaux-Arts) and Antwerp, and were invited to a dinner in the latter city. in a building close to the vacated Gestapo headquarters. After Antwerp was deemed unsafe, the two returned to Brussels, then hitchhiked their way on an American plane to Le Bourget, on the outskirts of Paris, before being taken in a jeep to the centre of the city. Here the two booked into the Ritz and were reunited with old musician friends including Gazelle’s old teacher Ciampi. They made it back to London (in a plane which had to make a forced landing in a field in Kent due to electrical failure) in time for Menuhin to make it to the BBC wartime studios in Bedford to broadcast the Bartók Second Violin Concerto.
    Two days after VE Day Gazelle performed in the National Gallery together with violinist Maurice Raskin. Menuhin and Gazelle continued to perform and record together regularly in the post-war era (Gazelle generally undertaking Menuhin’s European tours, with Adolph Baller accompanying the violinist in America), including a trip to South Africa in 1950, and of India in 1952. Gazelle continued to teach in Ghent; one of his students then was American pianist and teacher Phyllis Bergquist Billington, who was in Belgium as a Fulbright Scholar in the early 1950s. Gazelle and his wife gave the world premiere in 1958 of the Violin Sonata No. 2 by the Polish-born, Dutch-naturalised composer Ignace Lilién (1897-1964), and Gazelle himself premiered the Piano Concerto of Jules-Toussaint de Sutter in 1960.
    COMMENT:
    Thank you for this account of this tumultuous period in my father’s life. It fits accurately with what I heard from himself. END OF COMMENT
    During a concert tour of the Soviet Union in 1962, Menuhin visited the Central School for Young Musicians in Moscow; his wife Diana would come to write:
    ‘However the morning we spent there held a current of anonymity and drill that was disturbing. Dear little monsters aged four or five or six, their pigtails pinned to the crowns of their heads, whipped their way through Chopin and Liszt and all the showy composers with a cool competence that was at once admirable though alarming. Later we heard older boys and girls who had grduated to more serious but still dramatic works, showing their paces with a skill and perfection of execution that also left one baffled. Especially perplexing was the weird withholding of all names either of the performer or – particularly – of the teacher. These were gifted and well-tooled machines, part of the state’s organization and property for home consumption and export. Hephzibah remained silent; Yehudi was obviously more determined than ever to bring to the West his own version of such training.’
    Menuhin believed that up until the 1970s ‘the Soviet Union led the world’ in terms of musical education, despite his having been fiercely critical of Soviet musical policy in the early post-war era and had some altercations with Russian and Czech military policy in the same era. In the spring of 1963, he sent Gazelle, together with violinist Alberto Lysy (1935-2009) to visit the Moscow school, in order to bring back an impression of how the children’s days were organized in a manner which could provide a blueprint for their own plans. Menuhin said that the Moscow Central School was the ‘working model’ for his own, but in his autobiography described the differences between the two as follows: in Moscow there were 300 students, whereas he began with 15 (this would grow to 32 in 1965, 36 in 1969, 38 in 1972); Moscow trained soloists, whereas Menuhin wanted to produce musical all-rounders who could also work in teaching, chamber groups or orchestras – he noted that a society supposedly so founded upon the collective geared its musical education towards producing individual performers.
    COMMENT:Does this paragraph implies that Menuhin was ill advised to be influenced by Russian methods? END OF COMMENT
    The Yehudi Menuhin School was the second such specialist music institution in the UK, the Central Tutorial School for Young Musicians (later to become the Purcell School) having opened in 1962 (Chetham’s would become a specialist music school in 1969, Wells’ Cathedral School in 1970, and St Mary’s Music School in 1972, with Menuhin as patron). The Menuhin School was opened in September 1963, using premises in London acquired by pedagogue Grace Cone for her Arts Educational Trust; music lessons and all bedrooms were at the Prince of Wales Hotel (now destroyed), whilst academic lessons were held at the Trust’s classrooms near Piccadilly. The first committee included the Marchioness of Cholmondeley, Lady Fermoy, Sir Miki Sekers, the Countess of Strafford, Lord Mottistone, Mr Paul Paget and others. In 1964 the school transferred to new premises within a fifteen-acre parkland in Stoke d’Abernon, twenty-five miles south-west of London. Charitable donations and proceeds from auction of various donated works of art by the likes of Oskar Kokoschka and Henry Moore enabled the mortgage on the property to be almost completely settled within seven years. In the autumn of the second year a BBC2 masterclass featured a lesson with a seven-year old Nigel Kennedy, who had just joined the school that year.
    Menuhin himself initially selected many of the stuents himselves, of which around a third were girls. The initial fees were £450 per year. The school taught just five instruments: violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano. Menuhin called upon Frederick Grinke, who was a professor at the Royal Academy of Music for recommendations for teachers. The early teachers included Gazelle and Barbara Kerslake on piano, George Malcolm on harpsichord, Grinke himself, Robert Masters, Alberto Lysy, Jacqueline Gazelle and Margaret Norris on violin, Lionel Tertis on viola, Christopher Bunting, Maurice Gendron and Myra Chahin on cello. Peter Norris (who remained at the school for a long period), husband of Margaret, taught chamber music and worked on aural training. Visiting teachers would include Marcel Ciampi and Nadia Boulanger, and others who came to visit included Stéphane Grappelli and Ravi Shankar. The first headmaster was Anthony Brackenbury, who had come from teaching classics at Bryanston, then as head of sixth form studies at a London comprehensive for two years.
    Gazelle not only taught piano and co-ordinated musical activities in the school, but also, according to the book Menuhin’s House of Music, took charge of solfège, sight-singing, transposition, theory, harmony and even some musical history, though one former student does not recall him giving lessons in any of these himself. He would spend about four days of each week during term time at the school, the remainder being spent at Ghent. His piano students at the school included Ronan Magill, Jacqueline Cole, Mike Stanley, and briefly Menuhin’s own son Jeremy, who stayed at the school only for a short while before being despatched to Eton. Other students from the first year of the school’s existence included violinists David Angel (now a member of the Maggini Quartet together with later student Michal Kaznowski), Mary Eade, Rosemary Furniss and Elizabeth Perry. In the second year they were joined by various others including Marcia Crayford (who would come to teach at the school by 1969), Levine Andrade, Catherine Stevens (daughter of composer Bernard Stevens and violinist Bertha Stevens), Nigel Kennedy and then in the next few years by Colin Carr, Irita Kutchmy. Kathryn Stott, Michal Kaznowski and others. Various individuals have spoken about how they were made to feel that it would be an incredible honour to be studying piano with Menuhin’s accompanist; Gazelle would be friendly and charming towards parents.
    COMMENT: My father, as I new him, was friendly and charming to everybody. Also in Ghent, people were generally choosing his class among a choice of 3 possibilities. END OF COMMENT
    The daily schedules were gruelling. All students had to put in at least three hours’ practice per day, and for their more regular education were divided into three age groups. Daily activities would start at seven o’clock each morning for the younger children, 6:30 for the over-twelves at least twice a week. Classes on general musicianship, including ear tests, dictation, identifying chords and modulations, and so on, would take place before breakfast. Then the youngest pupils would have lessons whilst older ones practised their instruments under adult supervision, followed by a mid-morning break in which Brackenbury would lead the older children in ‘physical jerks’. There was a short but compulsory twenty-minute rest on beds after lunchtime, then the school day proceeded up until 6pm. Events happened practically every evening, which could be students playing, singing or acting, puppet plays, or once every week a concert given by teachers. Yoga teaching, and later t’ai chi, were prominent at the school due to Menuhin’s enthusiasm for these practices; an Indian Mr Iyengar visited in the first year on three occasions to give yoga classes to the children.
    Gazelle would allegedly enter the younger girls’ rooms to wake them up and would touch them under their bed clothes as they lay there. The older girls suffered an even more intrusive wake up call. Several girls at the school during the 1960s have claimed that he groomed them and then sexually abused them repeatedly over several years, leading to lifelong severe mental and sexual problems and often an inability to go near the school again (an attitude shared by many others claiming to have suffered non-sexual, but severe psychological and emotional abuse at the same school). His activities were not talked about leading many to believe that they were the only ones to suffer that fate, only discovering relatively recently that others had also been abused. In lessons he would sometimes have his arm placed continuously around some girls, the smoke from his Gitane cigarettes wafting into their nostrils. He also instilled fear in many due to his temper, leading some to feel they needed to feign enjoyment of his ‘attentions’ in order to avoid his anger.
    COMMENT:
    I can believe that my father was, as you call it,” emotionaly abusing” some of the pupils. Althought the term abuse seems exagerate. He was aware of the great responsibility Menuhin had put on him to bring these young children to become high level professional musicians. Waking up in the morning was compulsory and part of the discipline of the school. That he entered the room of some of them after knocking and receiving no answer, is most probable, and even witnessed by my brother Yves. That he had to shake some of them to awake is also most probable. But that he took this opportunity to sexually abuse is most improbable, and also not proved by the witnesses I read. “Touching a bare skin” might be very disturbing for some children, but is not yet what is called sexual abuse. That he could be angry at some times is also probable. Please take into account, with all respect to them, that some of the children were of difficult character, which often happens to gifted children. It is not like this that all children were angels, and all teachers devils. Today, such cases of difficult children would be handled by more psychologically advanced methods. In the 60s we are speaking about here, authority was based on other principels, and wheather this is better or not is not the question here. The question is to judge actions taken at this time, in the light of the time spirit.
    Notwithstanding this, I am convinced sexual abuse is a horrible thing, and although I firmly doubt it went that far, I would also condemn it, even if the culpit was my own father. The rest, like anger, mental pressure and alike, I can understand as a regrettable consequence of the community life of such a school. But it should not be put under the label: “sexual abuse”.
    END OF COMMENT
    Gazelle is also alleged to have employed a technique which is eerily near-identical to that of which I have heard from other teachers in other institutions. This involved reducing students to tears regularly at the beginning of lessons, by cruelly berating them for how they played, completely undermining their confidence (obliviously to whether they might be ill or anything else), so as then to be able to take them on his knee to comfort and cuddle them, thus exploiting vulnerability as a strategy for control.
    COMMENT:
    I firmly deny that the beheaviour of my father was aimed to sexually abuse the children. I do not deny the facts, only I deny the intention. As far as I can judge now, the intention was to establish his authority, and perhaps his “power” on the pupils, to bring them to the aims setup by the school: high level professional musicians. Again, wheater the method was good or not is not the point. The point is that it has nothing to do with sexual abuse.
    END OF COMMENT
    Mental and emotional cruelty and manipulation were allegedly equally common from other teachers there. The cello teacher Maurice Gendron is claimed to have systematically reduced students to tears in practically every lesson, whilst projecting outwards the symptoms of his morphine addiction, and would quiz students on their sex life and masturbation habits (Kaznowski’s account of Gendron’s activities can be found here). Jacqueline Gazelle was remembered as pointedly staring at the floor when students would make the slightest slip in a concert, then refusing to say a word to them afterwards. Boys would queue up at the toilets before her lessons out of fright. She is remembered to have had ferocious tantrums and would throw their music on the floor and insult them mercilessly, almost taking pleasure in causing them distress – students would emerge from her lessons crying and shaking.

    COMMENT:
    I am very surprised and sad that my mother is mentioned here in these terms. It is correct that she was an emotional person, educated from her childhood with music and having her own career. She followed my father at the Menuhin school, with not much pedagogical experience. She was also aware of the big responsibility put in her hands, and I feel, she was a little afraid by what it involved. Seen in this light, I can understand some emotional reactions as described, but I can certainly NOT accept that one says that “she took pleasure in causing them distress”. This is a scandalous allegation that I firmly deny.
    END OF COMMENT

    Barbara Kerslake is recalled to have had a characteristic trick of slamming the piano lid down on children’s hands whilst they were playing. Others’ teaching would simply consist of picking up their instrument and playing something perfectly so as to shame the child by comparison. Humiliation of pupils was common, and they were made to think that those who had left because of the pressure were merely failures, an epithet they themselves dreaded. On the other hand, the school liked to parade those it saw as its successes in front of the media and visiting royals – there was even a point where students regularly appeared on Savile’s Jim’ll Fix It. The idea that children need reassurance and help, rather than just criticism, appears to have passed various teachers by, though some have spoken fondly in particular of Margaret Norris.
    The tortuous environment caused children to run away, be expelled, shoplift, or even set the building on fire deliberately. Some children claimed to be being abused by a parent, and no-one believed them or cared. One member of staff is alleged to have had a public affair with another whilst the former’s spouse and children were living on campus; another, whose family also lived on the premises, had an relationship with a young student on and off campus. Empty beds were the tell-tale sign that pupils were being ‘tended to’ elsewhere.e
    COMMENT:
    This is the evil side of humanity, and is seen in many other circumstances. Even in the BBC and the British Government. It is not limited to YMS, although not an excuse. Agreed that it must be highlighted to disappear, but I fear it will remain as long as the world is populated by humans.
    END OF COMMENT
    As mentioned above, Gazelle continued to teach at Ghent alongside his activities at the Menuhin School. The student of his during this time who would go on to achieve greatest prominence was the conductor Philippe Herreweghe who studied piano with Gazelle. Herreweghe would in a 2011 interview list his work with Gazelle as amongst the most important encounters in his life, alongside those with Gustav Leonhardt, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Christoph Prégardien. Other of Gazelle’s Belgian students in the late 1960s were the pianist Roland de Munck and Jan Rispens.

    COMMENT:And Abel Mathijs, professor at the Brussels Conservatoire, and Francois Glorieux, Pianist and composer.END OF COMMENT

    He made a recording on HMV in 1968 with violinist Robert Masters (to be his successor as Director of Music at the school) and cellist Derek Simpson of Nikos Skalkottas’s Eight Variations on a Greek Folk Tune. Gazelle died from lung cancer in February 1969, having smoked since the age of six or seven.
    Menuhin’s own knowledge of the activities of Gazelle and others at his school remain an open question – perhaps some further information could be found through research into correspondence at the Yehudi Menuhin Archive housed at the Royal Academy of Music. The school had been designed so as to function without his presence, and he was listed simply as a visiting teacher, though his influence was widely felt at all levels; when he would visit once or twice a term, all other activities were suspended so he could spend time with each pupil.
    COMMENT:I would condemn further investigation to search if Menuhin “covered” such activities. Would you start an investigation to findout if the queen was aware of what happened at the BBC and among her Ministers?END OF COMMENT
    Menuhin said of Gazelle that ‘from the beginning he fitted so easily into my family it was as if I had suddenly been given an older brother’. The 1969 book Menuhin’s House of Music, with text by Delius’s collaborator Eric Fenby, provides today for a grim read for those with some knowledge of what else was going on. Fenby wrote of Gazelle: ‘Dedicated absolutely to his profession, he gives himself unsparingly in his teaching, expecting nothing but the best response; implanting disciplines where needed and imbuing confidence in all. Clearly he earns his pupils’ trust and personal regard in return’.
    All of these comments need to be re-interpreted and re-assessed in light of the ominous allegations now coming to light.

    COMMENT:
    I think your comments have to be re-assesed in the light of what you mention here above. With thanks to mention it !!
    END OF COMMENT

    The violinist Nigel Kennedy said ten years ago (quoted in ‘Kennedy reveals abuse at music school’, The Observer, Sunday September 28th, 2003) that young girls were sexually abused during his time at the school, pointing out that he himself at age eight would be at the receiving end of a teacher’s disaffections for being perceived as a rival for a girl. Kennedy did not name any perpetrators or victims, but carefully pointed out ‘Maybe it’s very close to religion, music. If you’ve got someone who’s like a guru figure, you probably might think what they’re doing is right’. Various of Kennedy’s contemporaries from the time read this and were immediately aware to whom he was referring. Now Kennedy has been prepared to name Gazelle and make public his very mixed feelings about the school he attended.

    COMMENT:
    Whatever, and whoever Kennedy names is not important to me. What is important to me is that I remain absolutely convinced that my father did not perpetuate sexual abuse at the YMS or where ever else.
    He ever told me:” I never forced anybody to have relations with me, but I never refused if it was proposed”
    END OF COMMENT

    As with the case of Michael Brewer, and allegations about Malcolm Layfield, Ryszard Bakst and Chris Ling at Chetham’s, it is maybe to be anticipated that we will hear about how these are ‘historic’ cases, which could never happen today. I very much hope this is indeed the case, but from former pupils at the Menuhin School alone I have heard a range of disturbing allegations about various types of abuse during the 1980s and 1990s. All allegations do need to be treated as such and properly investigated, and all alleged perpetrators should rightly be considered innocent until they are proved guilty. But overwhelming numbers of allegations point to a situation whereby children at specialist music schools are in a position of high vulnerability to abuse and cruelty, in which this is often accepted as being par for the course within such training, and in which such abuse is covered-up, or pressure put on victims to stay quiet, in order to protect the reputations of both teachers and institutions. All aspects of the working, teaching and administration of these institutions needs urgent investigation and reappraisal. Major studies of musical education were produced for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 1965 (‘Making Musicians’) and 1978 (‘Training Musicians’). Another thorough survey taking seriously everything else which has transpired or is in the process of transpiring is needed as soon as possible.
    COMMENT:
    I fully support your conclusion.
    But be aware that world famous musicians are not “Normal” people. Although the “abnormality” in their character is NOT a source or excuse of/for evil actions, it might be good to evaluate if they are the most adequate pedagoges, mainly for young children.
    END OF ALL COMMENTS

    • ianpace says:

      Dear Didier, Thank you for your detailed post (and for some factual corrections). I will respond in detail later. I’d just like to say for now that I do feel a great deal of sympathy for how you must be feeling about all of this, which is in no sense your responsibility.

      • Didier gazelle. Son of Marcel Gazelle and Jacqueline salomons, and proud to be. says:

        Thanks for your sympathy and your objectivity.

    • ianpace says:

      In response to the various comments:

      ‘I never heard my father was suffering of tendonitis. Is it not strange that Menuhin, who was a highly sensitive man, would appreciate my father as he did, and did not detect any negative beheaviour which could be associated with ” sexual abuse”? They travelled the world around, and my father was during these years in close contact with Hepzibah and Yalta Menuhin, who appreciated him a lot.’

      The information about tendonitis comes from John-Paul Bracey, A Biography of French Pianist Marcel Ciampi (1891-1980) (Lewiston, NY: E. Mellen Press, 1996), p. 59. As far as whether Menuhin did or did not detect behaviour associated with sexual abuse is concerned, that remains an open question.

      ‘I never heard that the marriage of my parents was arranged by Marita Menuhin. Menuhin writes in his memoires that he cherished her. My mother told me at various occasions that she did not want to become Mss Menuhin, as it involved a too big responsibility, and too much limelight and it would end her own career. ‘

      Source, Humphrey Burton, Menuhin: A Life (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), pp. 121-122: ‘The violin parts were generally shared between Enesco, Yehudi and another new friend Jacqueline Salomons, a fellow pupil of Enesco for whom Yehudi confessed to hold ‘silently cherished sentimental feelings’. She later married one of Yehudi’s accompanists, Marcel Gazelle – according to Yaltah she was forced into the marriage by Marutha’s match-making activities’

      ‘My parents were reunited in London in 1942, not 1944’

      This was a mistake of mine – Menuhin’s autobiography (Unfinished Journey (London: Methuen, 1976), p. 181) points out that Jacqueline had escaped the Occupation via Lisbon and by 1943 was reunited with Marcel; by 1944 she was in London. I have corrected this according to the information you have provided.

      ‘Does this paragraph implies that Menuhin was ill advised to be influenced by Russian methods?’

      Personally I believe that there are reasons to treat with some scepticism much-lauded Russian pedagogical methods, borne out of deeply authoritarian and hierarchical societies, and – during the Soviet Era from the mid-1950s onwards – geared above all to producing winners of international competitions. But that is beyond the scope of this article to discuss properly.

      ‘I firmly deny that the behaviour of my father was aimed to sexually abuse the children. I do not deny the facts, only I deny the intention. As far as I can judge now, the intention was to establish his authority, and perhaps his “power” on the pupils, to bring them to the aims setup by the school: high level professional musicians. Again, whether the method was good or not is not the point. The point is that it has nothing to do with sexual abuse.’

      I am sorry, but I have spoken to multiple former students who do attest to directly sexual touching and much worse. As far as the rest of the point is concerned, I do believe that psychological and emotional abuse are also a very serious concern, and relevant in this context. One is not simply dealing with the production of ‘high level professional musicians’, but also with human beings at one of the most delicate times in their lives.

      ‘I am very surprised and sad that my mother is mentioned here in these terms. It is correct that she was an emotional person, educated from her childhood with music and having her own career. She followed my father at the Menuhin school, with not much pedagogical experience. She was also aware of the big responsibility put in her hands, and I feel, she was a little afraid by what it involved. Seen in this light, I can understand some emotional reactions as described, but I can certainly NOT accept that one says that “she took pleasure in causing them distress”. This is a scandalous allegation that I firmly deny.’

      I am afraid that I have gained a very different impression from some of those who studied with her, but it is important to hear all sides. I would invite any others with direct knowledge of Jacqueline Gazelle and her teaching to offer their own views.

      ‘This is the evil side of humanity, and is seen in many other circumstances. Even in the BBC and the British Government. It is not limited to YMS, although not an excuse. Agreed that it must be highlighted to disappear, but I fear it will remain as long as the world is populated by humans. ‘

      Certainly it is not limited to YMS, but there is considerable evidence to suggest that such behaviour has been especially prevalent in specialist music schools.

      ‘And Abel Mathijs, professor at the Brussels Conservatoire, and Francois Glorieux, Pianist and composer’

      Thank you for this information, which I have now included. I do not see Abel Mathijs’s name on the websites of the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles or the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel – can you confirm at which of the two conservatories he teaches (I am imagining the second, as Mathijs has a Flemish name)?

      ‘I would condemn further investigation to search if Menuhin “covered” such activities. Would you start an investigation to findout if the queen was aware of what happened at the BBC and among her Ministers?’

      I think the question of who was aware, and said nothing or even actively covered-up things, thus allowing perpetrators to continue abusing, is of great importance, not least in establishing the extent to which institutions themselves share some responsibility for the perpetuation of abusive behaviour. If there was the possibility that the Queen was aware of, say, the actions of Savile (or anything involving her ministers), and had said nothing, then without doubt that should be investigated.

      ‘I think your comments have to be re-assessed in the light of what you mention here above. With thanks to mention it !!’

      Which comments and which information mentioned above specifically?

      ‘Whatever, and whoever Kennedy names is not important to me. What is important to me is that I remain absolutely convinced that my father did not perpetuate sexual abuse at the YMS or where ever else.
      He ever told me:” I never forced anybody to have relations with me, but I never refused if it was proposed”’

      Again, I am sorry, but the evidence points in the other direction. You cannot be sure that he was telling you the truth.

      ‘But be aware that world famous musicians are not “Normal” people. Although the “abnormality” in their character is NOT a source or excuse of/for evil actions, it might be good to evaluate if they are the most adequate pedagogues, mainly for young children.’

      I am not wholly sure what constitutes a ‘normal’ person. But I wholly agree that we should look again at the question of whether some individuals, who may be highly accomplished performers, are necessarily the right people to teaching children.

      • Didier gazelle. says:

        In response to some of the comments of Ian pace:
        First of all. Thank you for your response, and although I do not want to start a polemic, allow me to add the following:
        Marriage of Jacqueline Salomons to Marcel Gazelle
        COMMENT
        Source, Humphrey Burton, Menuhin: A Life (London: Faber & Faber, 2000), pp. 121-122: ‘The violin parts were generally shared between Enesco, Yehudi and another new friend Jacqueline Salomons, a fellow pupil of Enesco for whom Yehudi confessed to hold ‘silently cherished sentimental feelings’. She later married one of Yehudi’s accompanists, Marcel Gazelle – according to Yaltah she was forced into the marriage by Marutha’s match-making activities’
        MY RESPONSE ON COMMENT
        At the time I read Humphrey Burton excellent biography of Menuhin, I already was surprised by the statement that my parent’s marriage was arranged by Marita Menuhin. Wheather Yalta or my Mother is correct will remain an unanswered question, and in fact, has nothing to do with the present subject t of sexual abuse at the YMS, although it might suggest that the marriage was not happy and that brought my father to the alleged beheaviour.
        Anyway, I like to state that it is most improbable that my Mother would run into a forced marriage. At that time, she was living in Paris with her parents, who were, at that time rich. (they were Jewish, ruined by the war, but that is another story, and was later). She had an own succesful career as soloist, in France and USA. There was no need or pressure to marry. Furthermore, there are a number of things pointing to a real love marriage. She agreed to follow my Father to the provincial (compared to Paris) city of Ghent, and thus putting her career at stake. She agreed to marry in a catholic church and to educate her children in the catholic religion. She took a lot of risks during the war to reunite with my father in London. All these are not actions of a woman who was”forced” into her marriage. If you have contact with Mr Burton, please point this to him.
        ORIGINAL COMMENT
        ‘I firmly deny that the behaviour of my father was aimed to sexually abuse the children. I do not deny the facts, only I deny the intention. As far as I can judge now, the intention was to establish his authority, and perhaps his “power” on the pupils, to bring them to the aims setup by the school: high level professional musicians. Again, whether the method was good or not is not the point. The point is that it has nothing to do with sexual abuse.’
        COMMENT OF IAN PACE
        I am sorry, but I have spoken to multiple former students who do attest to directly sexual touching and much worse. As far as the rest of the point is concerned, I do believe that psychological and emotional abuse are also a very serious concern, and relevant in this context. One is not simply dealing with the production of ‘high level professional musicians’, but also with human beings at one of the most delicate times in their lives.
        MY FURTHER COMMENT
        Up to now, what I read is from people like you, who heard it from other people. Not that I question your good faith, but I would be finally convinced only if I can hear (or read) it directly from the alleged victims themselves. How delicate and painful such a direct contact might be, it is the only way to remove my doubts, have an acceptation, and bid excuses to the victims. I am ready for this, but are the alleged victims?
        ON THE BEHEAVIOR OF MY MOTHER
        IAN PACE:
        I am afraid that I have gained a very different impression from some of those who studied with her, but it is important to hear all sides. I would invite any others with direct knowledge of Jacqueline Gazelle and her teaching to offer their own views.
        MY FURTHER COMMENT:
        Again here, it would be useful to hear it directly from the ones that alledgy suffered. By the way, nigel Kennedy got also some teaching from my Mother.

        ‘And Abel Mathijs, professor at the Brussels Conservatoire, and Francois Glorieux, Pianist and composer’
        Thank you for this information, which I have now included. I do not see Abel Mathijs’s name on the websites of the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles or the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel – can you confirm at which of the two conservatories he teaches (I am imagining the second, as Mathijs has a Flemish name)?
        MY FURTHER COMMENT
        Maybe I spelled the name incorrectly. It is Mathys, sometimes with 2 TTs’
        You might be interested to go to this site:
        Arthur De Greef – study for PIANO – YouTube
        ► 8:36► 8:36
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbjAEoT2kx8‎

        Apr 2, 2010 – Uploaded by WatchBlueSkies
        Abel Mathys – piano recorded from rare VINYL LP Stereo (Luister van de muziek in Vlaanderen ..

        ‘I think your comments have to be re-assessed in the light of what you mention here above. With thanks to mention it !!’
        IAN PACE:
        Which comments and which information mentioned above specifically?
        MY FURTHER COMMENT:
        I mean, in the light of what Menuhin was thinking of my father. But this, to some extent, put the credibility of Menuhin in question.
        ‘Whatever, and whoever Kennedy names is not important to me. What is important to me is that I remain absolutely convinced that my father did not perpetuate sexual abuse at the YMS or where ever else.
        He ever told me:” I never forced anybody to have relations with me, but I never refused if it was proposed”’
        IAN PACE:
        Again, I am sorry, but the evidence points in the other direction. You cannot be sure that he was telling you the truth.
        MY FURTHER COMMENT
        Again, I would like to hear it directly
        ON OTHER POINTS, I AM IN AGREEMENT WITH YOU.

  8. Mark Barrett says:

    These comments are of course appreciated – as I said at the start of my first post, it must be very distressing for Mr Gazelle to have read about his parents in various reports. Howver, Didie, world famous musicians, broadcaster, DJs, whoever, should NEVER be exempt from acceptable behaviour. This is why I become very disturbed when members of the musical ‘establishment’ either seem to make excuses for certain individuals in the name of their art, or suggest that the whole thing shoudl be covered up and made to go away. They were -and are still – frequently placed in positions of great trust as teachers and mentors and it is profoundly disturbing that we are now realising that several of them in establishments in the UK and elsewhere are found to have sorely betrayed that trust while young students were in their care.

  9. Didier gazelle. Son of Marcel Gazelle and Jacqueline salomons, and proud to be. says:

    As I said in my comments, being a great musician, minister or whatever well known is indeed not an excuse for bad beheaviour. It is only an explanation to try to understand how such behaviour originate.

  10. ianpace says:

    Some of the discussion on here has been reported in a new article in the Independent – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/fresh-abuse-claims-hit-top-music-school-8612402.html

  11. ianpace says:

    (the article above also includes disturbing new claims, made on the record by viola player Sacha Barlow, about sexual abuse at the Menuhin School in the 1980s)

  12. […] former Chetham’s student Ian Pace said yesterday that he has re-opened an online petition (click: HERE ) calling on ministers to launch an independent inquiry into systemic abuse at specialist music […]

  13. Nigel Barrington says:

    This seems to me another example of the almost Stalinist rewriting of the history of forty years ago that is now taking place. I didn’t go to specialist music schools but I did go to private schools at the time, and what is easily forgotten is that they were entirely staffed by disturbed individuals whose world view was traumatised by living through the second world war(this very much includes Menuhin who could never play with composure again after touring the remnants of German concentration camps, and never really came to terms with anything, I knew him a little in the last years of his life). Even outside the music world we were subjected to what nowadays would be regarded as horribly abusive upbringings by people who had very little self control, and I regarded sexual advances from teachers as being almost normal. It was disturbing, in retrospect, but life is in many ways disturbing and the idea that all this stuff should be investigated 40 years on and, horrifyingly, criminal charges be brought is quite distressing and entirely pointless. Things are largely better now and certainly the YMS has in recent years produced far better balanced pupils than it did in the days you describe when admittedly it was a byword for disturbed children many of whom I still know and most of whom have not thrived. Shit happens and is passed down the generations but we have made progress, it is the natural way of things

  14. ianpace says:

    To Nigel: criminal charges will only be brought where what went on was at the time of the act a criminal offence. Laws cannot be applied retrospectively. I do not really understand on what basis you think that these things should not be investigated 40 years on – I have certainly spoken to people who have said it is taken them this long to be able to feel safe to speak out, previously having buried the awful truth within.

    As far as progress in specialist music schools is concerned, can we be so absolutely sure that this could not happen now? Or that some of the perpetrators might not still be working with young people (as was Michael Brewer until his arrest last year)?

  15. Nigel Barrington says:

    Certainly we can’t be sure, though having been involved with both all the specialist music schools and the major conservatories for 35 years as both inmate and instructor I can safely say that what goes on now, and much does go on now, is as nothing compared to what went on thirty years ago when such things were accepted as the normal way of things. Most of the people involved back then are elderly now and except for in the most serious cases I would see the investigation of the many, many dubious acts I knew about as pretty tyrannical. It’s important to remember that putting one’s hand inside someone’s underwear, which regrettably seemed in those days a normal way of expressing interest, was not at all the same thing as serious sexual assault, and let us acknowledge that until comparatively recently consensual sexual relations between teacher and student over the age of consent was entirely legal; I know many happy couples, as I’m sure you do, who came together that way, deplorable though it seems now. These are very grey areas indeed.
    About burying the awful truth-I think there are rather few of us who came through residential education in those days who weren’t subject to what would now regarded as sexual molestation. It didn’t have to ruin lives, it hasn’t ruined mine. I do not seek to justify it at all but those were the times we lived through.
    I regret having to use an alias but it’s a clear choice between doing that and not posting at all-feel free to delete me if that offends, I understand perfectly.

    • ianpace says:

      Nigel, I certainly would not want to delete your post, nor censor differing views on this subject. Consensual sexual relationships between teachers and students over the age of consent were indeed entirely legal until 2003 (and when the student is over 18 and no longer in secondary education, still are). I don’t actually believe it is always ‘deplorable’ when some couples come together, nor necessarily when there is a less committed sexual encounter, but do believe that in such circumstances (or where one party attempts to initiate such a thing, but the other does not wish it, and the former party accepts this reasonably) the teacher and student should abandon that particular hierarchical relationship, i.e. one should stop teaching the other. Then whatever else they do is entirely their business.

      I appreciate that people have different later responses to molestation during education, but for some it has indeed ruined lives. A lot depends upon what you consider ‘the most serious cases’ – a great many of those I know to be under investigation are very serious indeed, and involve serial predators treating the majority of those students of the sex to which they are attracted as prey. In not all such cases does this involve criminality, but in many it raises serious questions about why these people were thought fit to teach in the first place, and whether they remain so. And many of the victims do deserve recognition that this was a situation for which they themselves were not generally responsible, in distinction to the intense guilt that I have encountered amongst many.

      Would you say that the investigations of celebrities as part of Operation Yewtree are also ‘tyrannical’, considering that it is appearing as if vast amounts of serial abuse, sometimes involving very young children, were swept under the carpet for many years? Do we not at the very least have a duty to try and understand how this could happen on such a scale, and look into whatever measures are necessary to ensure as best as we can that it could not do so again?

    • Didier gazelle. says:

      What you write is in line with my thinking. As I am now 73, I have a quite accurate rememberance of the mentallyty of the 60s. I agree with you that this is not an excuse, but it puts what happened at that time in another light.

      • Catherine E. says:

        I agree. Didier, I didn’t know your father, but I knew Alberto Lysy and Yehudi Menuhin from Gstaad 1976 on … (although spent small amounts of time with Yehudi since I was a young child the summer of 1964). I grew up in the 60’s. During that time, there was a different perspective on touching and physical interaction, that was in nearly every case, innocent. I know a lot of my teachers could never ( and because of perception etc. WOULD never) teach in the same manner NOW, and with such familiarity and yes, AFFECTION, as they did then. In my case there was absolutely never any thing remotely sexual or improper in this behavior. My point is that viewed today, it would appear to be inappropriate at best, and could be interpreted incorrectly as sexual abuse. The power play and emotional methods used in a lot of schools could be considered emotionally unhealthy , as were a lot of teaching methods of that and earlier times. Partly because of this, my parents searched for a school that approached education in a different way: that didnt use fear or comparison as a means of teaching. But , it was ” normal” in those days to use fear etc, in varying degrees ( and often still is ) although now there is a “no tolerance” rule about physicality which is almost always assumed to be of a sexual nature. Performing arts schools, in particular, were rough on the psyche, to say the least. (But asserting that smoking while holding a student was intentional abuse is reaching a bit, and an example of ignoring cultural and temporal context.)
        I am not, by any means, discounting reports by former students at YMS. Nigel et. al. know far more than I. Obviously, sexual abuse has occurred in school settings. And I know nothing of the facts of these cases besides what I just read here. I must write just to caution us all to indeed remember context and mores and the possible misinterpretation of behavior. These days no right minded teacher would get close to a line that has been deemed to represent sexual inappropriateness. But that line was elsewhere then. It is a shame that “the baby was lost with the bath water”, as the saying goes. A teacher who may have merely expressed fatherly love toward his students would now be considered a pedaphile. However, If this truly happened, it is a violation that truly robbed some innocence from the young girls’ lives, which is such a tragedy when innocence and trust is rare and fragile. I feel for all involved, and hope in the name of all that is still decent and good in this world, that we gain insight, and not apply today’s filter on yesterday’s facts to the point that truth is obscured. Lets hope, instead, that the investigative light and our undertanding of the times together will reveal the truth.

        • Didier Gazelle says:

          A late reply because I was on holiday:
          Finally somebody who understands what I was trying to say, and words it much better than I did. Thanks for this

    • Didier gazelle. says:

      I would appreciate this Nigel Barrington to give some comments on my Mother’s (jacqueline Salomons) attitude towards the students if he heard about it. I could recall here that it is thanks to her that Nigel Kennedy was not thrown out of the school.

  16. […] son of Marcel Gazelle, accused co-founder of the Yehudi Menuhin School, has voiced anguish over whether some of the charges against his father are a reflection of relative values, of […]

  17. Nigel Barrington says:

    Ian, I find the harassment of ‘celebrities’ of yesteryear rather shocking on the whole. I honestly don’t think there is anyone male in the public eye back then who wouldn’t be eligible for investigation. Plenty of sex and alcohol was considered rather a perk of the job in those days and most of them partook. Should they really be arrested at dawn with Daily Mail cameramen looking on 40 years afterwards ? I do think it’s profoundly inappropriate.
    Didier, I’m afraid I’ve heard little of your mother though I do feel for you in your advancing years, this can’t be fun at all.
    It seems to me that where there is religion there is sexual oppression and where there is sexual oppression there is sexual abuse, as night follows day, though this is only indirectly relevant here.

  18. […] teacher at the Surrey-based school, its founding music director, pianist Marcel Gazelle, who passed away in 1969, allegedly sexually abused young girls in the school in the 1960s. Irita […]

  19. Paul Kinburbn says:

    Not only females are exploited and discriminated against. Males are systematically denied privacy (from which I was afflicted with an embarrassing, humiliating lifelong psychoneurotic disability from age twelve; I am now almost 72) from their first day of school (including in compulsory government service for males only), and since around 1970 more or less systematically denied access to professional training and even clerical job opportunities in many human-service job categories in which the successful candidates are presumed to be female (because males are presumed to be lazy and sloppy at best, or potential predators at worst, period, the end), at least in the USA. In my present clerical position of almost sixteen years (which I got only because my wife worked in the office in question; otherwise I wouldn’t even have been considered), as the only male clerical staffer I am perpetually humiliated as the only one who is forbidden (on pain of instant dismissal) to correct online typographical omissions or errors by other staffers (all of which are female; I must submit these corrections offline in writing to a female staffer who then decides, at her whim and pleasure, whether or not to type in the correction even given my seniority and higher level of education and experience, and the (male) boss lies that it’s not discrimination. This all makes me perpetually bitter and angry whenever I hear (whether directly or by implication) that the only gender discrimination and sexual abuse is against females and there is no such thing as anti-male discrimination All I want is equality and fairness for everyone, but I suspect the women’s movement fears and hates this idea as a potential threat to their array of special privileges (none of which is considered discriminatory, since after all there is supposed to be no such thing as anti-male discrimination). I am a lifelong avid classical-recording collector, including CD transfers of Yehudi Menuhin – Marcel Gazelle recordings.

    • Paul Kinburn says:

      It’s Paul Kinburn, not Kinburbn. My error. Sorry.

    • Ian Pace says:

      Paul, the issue of abuse is by no means a one-sided gender issue, and I would resist attempts to make it as such. As you will see from my post about Robert Waddington, boys have been abused in the context of musical education as well (and this is far from an isolated example). See also the material about how Maurice Gendron acted towards his male students at the Menuhin School (the article in the Independent in which Michal Kaznowski talks about this is linked to above). And there are some perpetrators of abuse who are female as well – not least Kay Brewer.

  20. […] abuse at all of the five specialist music schools in the UK (as for example with the cases of Marcel Gazelle and Robert Waddington), and all the major music colleges as well, as well as further allegations […]

  21. […] ), co-founder and director of music at the Yehudi Menuhin School, Marcel Gazelle (see my blog post https://ianpace.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/marcel-gazelle-and-the-culture-of-the-early-yehudi-menuhin-s… with links to other reports on Gazelle), former Dean of Manchester Cathedral (in daily contact with […]

  22. […] Marcel Gazelle and the Culture of the Early Yehudi Menuhin School […]

  23. […] Marcel Gazelle and the Culture of the Early Yehudi Menuhin School (7/5/13) […]

  24. […] Channel 4 News continued to work on their report, which was broadcast on May 7th. The major revelation here, for the purposes of which the Channel 4 team had spoken to multiple pupils from who studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School in the 1960s and 1970s, was about the first director of music and co-founder of the school, Belgian pianist Marcel Gazelle, revealed as a serial abuser of girls as young as 10 in their beds (the broadcast was very careful in terms of what could be said both for legal reasons and because of the watershed, but many from the school at the time privately commented that the scale of Gazelle’s activities, allegedly involving multiple rape of older girls as well, was not always clear). For this broadcast, Nigel Kennedy was tracked down and persuaded to take on the record about Gazelle, revealing that he was the figure to whom he had referred in interview with Lebrecht back in 2003. The former student Irita Kutchmy chose to speak on the record about her own abuse at the hands of Gazelle, lending the broadcast, which alleged that abuse had gone on at all five specialist music schools, a vivid immediacy (Ciaran Jenkins, ‘Exclusive: Sex scandal implicates all five UK music schools’, Channel 4 News, 7/5/13). I immediately published on my blog a long article on Gazelle and the early culture of the Menuhin School, drawing upon accounts by various former students to paint a bleak picture of sexual, physical and emotional abuse at all levels, which brought Gazelle’s wife Jacqueline into the picture as well. This produced bitter responses from their son Didier, denying the allegations, protesting that ‘What was acceptable 50 years ago, is now considered as an offence’ and asking ‘Where is the limit between affection and sexual abuse?’ (Ian Pace, ‘Marcel Gazelle and the Culture of the Early Yehudi Menuhin School’, Desiring Progress…) […]

  25. […] Marcel Gazelle and the Culture of the Early Yehudi Menuhin School (7/5/13) […]


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