Official documents, letters about Victor Lvovich Makarov
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Abuse of trust: music teacher guilty

To the Sydney families who entrusted their talented children to his care, Victor Makarov was revered for his ability to produce piano prodigies who won international acclaim. A fatherly figure, Russian-born Makarov's passion for music and love of teaching was expressed through a distinctly eastern European ebullience.

But after a long-running case that has divided and shocked the music community, the 52-year-old has been found guilty of 26 sexual offences against four of his young male students. For the first time, the full extent of his crimes can be revealed.

In the last of four trials, a jury yesterday found Makarov guilty of 10 sexual offences - including homosexual intercourse and indecent assaults - against two students. He interfered with these students in virtually every lesson, they told the court.

The trial involving another boy, whose accusations triggered an investigation early last year, was aborted after a witness inadvertently gave potentially prejudicial evidence, and it was not re-run.

Makarov came to Australia from Ukraine in 1998, where he had taught at a piano school for gifted children. Some of his pupils have established reputations as concert pianists and won international competitions.
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It was at the urging of the Australian Institute of Music's then professional development director, Warren Thomson, that Makarov, his wife and daughter, and five brilliant teenage protégés were sponsored to Australia. The relocation cost about $450,000. The privately run institute was positioning itself as a serious competitor to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

Makarov's reputation allowed him to cherry-pick from the growing number of talented young piano students attracted to the institute, and they in turn were expected to swear undying loyalty to music, and to him.

The most favoured enjoyed the added kudos of extra lessons at the family's Pymble home, where Makarov was still teaching the day the allegations were raised in early 2004. He continued teaching until October.

A judge later said Makarov used his good reputation to gain access to the children he abused, and had no insight into his offences. He used his position of authority - he was a demanding, temperamental teacher - and had considerable influence on his students. He told them they would become better musicians, understanding the sexual content of music, if they experienced sex.

Makarov, who had made partial admissions to some of his victims, saying his actions were "in my nature", maintained his innocence throughout the trials.

His wife, Victoria Salomatina, and daughter, Katerina Makarova, said the allegations were false.

In January, the then NSW District Court Judge Megan Latham sentenced Makarov to 12 years for eight offences. He awaits sentence for the other offences.

Outside court yesterday, one victim - who cannot be named - said: "He is really not a person, he is some sort of evil creature."

Another victim said: "I'm very glad that the justice system here works and that, in a way, all can be revealed so we can feel much better. We feel free, so we can just move on. Even the air feels fresher - it's been a burden."

Makarov will be sentenced on October 20.

 

Victor Makarov piano pianist professor

for e-mail: s.ivanov200@mail.ru