Official documents, letters about Victor Lvovich Makarov
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As one idol falls, another takes its place


A lion stalked a lamb on the lid of Victor Makarov's piano.

The kitsch ornament was part of the toy menagerie the Ukrainian teacher displayed at his Surry Hills studio, and helped foster the fatherly image he presented to colleagues, new students and parents. If he occasionally cracked under the veneer with displays of paranoia or anger, well, that was only further evidence of the man's obvious brilliance.

The story of Makarov and the brilliant boy pianists he brought with him, and the mad musical house in Pymble where they lived and breathed music together, was a heaven-sent marketing tool for the Australian Institute of Music back in 1998. The school was mushrooming and it had earned government accreditation to award tertiary-level degrees.

The Makarov charisma shot like a bolt of electricity through the institute's warehouse-style campus on Foveaux Street. The Saturday morning recitals, compulsory for every performance student with parents strongly urged to attend, became a carnival of virtuosity steeped in the Russian tradition. It was standing-room only, with Makarov and his Ukrainian pupils the stars and Rachmaninoff the staple fare.


"It was a dictatorship," the mother of victim B said on Monday. "But he was God, and we felt honoured … my son felt honoured, to be at his service."

The institute's principal and chief executive, Rafaele Marcellino, said the institute had restructured the department. He described the Makarov scandal as "a terrible thing" and admitted the institute's reputation and, consequently, its enrolments in classical piano, had suffered.

Makarov represented a big revenue stream. According to publicity circulated by the institute right up to his arrest in February last year, his pupil count stood at about 165, including dozens of private students he taught both from home and at the Surry Hills studio. This year, the institute's classical piano department has received just two new enrolments for its bachelor of music program, a four-year degree costing between $47,600 and $62,000.

With recent successes in Australian Idol, including the show's 2004 winner, Casey Donovan, it is now the institute's contemporary music performance stream being celebrated and marketed most aggressively.

The mother of victim B refuses to share in the optimism.

"When I look back, what fools we all were," she said. "I think we all loved music too much."



Victor Makarov piano pianist professor

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