The Juilliard School, perhaps the most prestigious fine arts conservatory in the world, is currently facing a long list of sexual misconduct accusations leveled at several high-profile faculty members, both past and present. One particular professor has since been placed on leave while an outside law firm investigates allegations of "decades-long abuse of women and power."
On Friday, Robert Beaser, 68, a current faculty member and former chair of the musical composition department at Julliard, was placed on leave after the school received an open letter, signed by 500 musicians and other artists, which claimed that Beaser solicited female students for sex throughout his lengthy career.
Beaser first joined the Juilliard faculty in 1993. According to the accusations, Beaser regularly hosted female students for private lessons at his residence. One former composition student, whose name has not been disclosed, claimed that Beaser made "repeated" sexual advances towards her. In one particular instance, Beaser offered her a promising career opportunity on the condition that she provide him sexual "favors" in return.
"What will you do for me?" he supposedly asked the student at the time.
"I knew that composition was a man’s field—I never had any allusions to it being different—and I knew how to play," the student wrote in a statement draft sent to the school. "So I sucked it up, and dealt with the reality as best as I could."
Other allegations against Beaser include repeated sexual advances and sexual relationships with students during the 1990s and early 2000s. As Julliard is an institution which serves mainly college-level and graduate-level students, romantic relationships between faculty and students would not necessarily be criminal in nature or even prohibited. However, pressure on students to offer sexual favors would likely be considered sexual harassment or sexual misconduct.
Beaser has agreed to "step away from his teaching duties" while the investigation unfolds, and on Sunday, Beaser told the Washington Post that he was "more than willing to participate in Juilliard's outside investigation in order to protect and defend [his] reputation."
Beaser is not the only Juilliard faculty member accused of sexual impropriety. Fellow composer John Corigliano has been accused of refusing to work with female students so that he might surround himself with more male students, ostensibly for romantic relationships. Corigliano denies the allegations.
"Such a position was neither my preference nor my policy," he stated. "I have taken great joy in working with many very gifted young women and men in my long teaching career."
Other former students have pointed fingers at late composer Christopher Rouse, who died in 2019. One female doctoral applicant claimed that Rouse attempted to kiss her after having dinner with her. The woman said her application to the school was rejected the day after she rebuffed him.
Juilliard spokesperson Rosalie Contreras confirmed that the school has hired an outside law firm to investigate the allegations. "Sexual discrimination and sexual harassment have no place in our school community," she said in a statement. "We take all such allegations extremely seriously."