Spain Court Acquits Pianist of 'Noise Pollution'

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 04:00 PM

MADRID (AP) -- A Spanish court has acquitted a 28-year-old concert pianist on charges of causing noise pollution and psychological damage to a neighbor.

The court in northeastern Girona absolved professional pianist Laia Martin and her parents of both charges, according to a written ruling issued Tuesday.

The trial this month caused a storm of ridicule and disbelief when prosecutors sought a sentence of seven years. They later reduced this to 20 months.

Martin's neighbor, Sonia Bonsom, complained the pianist practiced five days a week for eight hours at a time between 2003 and 2007 in an apartment building in the nearby town of Puigcerda. Bonsom told the court she now hated pianos so much she can't even stand to see them in movies.

The court said it found Bonsom's claims unreliable and exaggerated. It said there was no proof that Martin's playing surpassed the 30-decibel limit laid down for musical instruments in the town - as the prosecution claimed - or that the playing was the direct cause of Bonsom's problems.

Martin's parents were attached to the case when they carried out soundproofing work twice, but this failed to quell Bonsom's complaints.

A normal conversation produces 55-60 decibels, with noise in a typical Spanish bar reaching 65-70 decibels.



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Comments [4]

Beverly Lawson

I shared an apartment building with an aspiring opera singer. Although a lover of opera, I found her constant practicing of scales put my teeth on edge. Beyond that, I knew her career didn't stand a chance, because her voice was horrendous. Poor woman. Poor me and everyone else within earshot.

Dec. 02 2013 09:56 AM
Brunnhilde from nyc

As a Manhattan apartment dweller and musician...I would never practice past 9:00 p.m. and when I do practice it is only in spurts of only an hour or hour and a half. I am not afraid to ask my neighbors if I'm annoying them with my practicing and ask if they will knock on my door if it becomes annoying at that time. So far, no one has ever knocked on my door. Consideration goes both ways.

Nov. 30 2013 02:11 PM
Charles Fischbein from Front Royal, Va.

What are practice rooms for? Although I live on 60 acres and practice my cello in a separate structure I built as my den, I can understand how consistent playing can be annoying for apartment dwellers.
Many apartment families have young children who need to nap in mid afternoon and seniors need their rest, to say nothing about people who work swing or night shifts such as police, hospital employees, etc. this can of course cause major issues.
Several years ago I got an offer to sell my 60 acre farm and gave thought to moving the five in our family to a Manhattan apartment.
One issues I had was with my six pound chihuahua who barks at the wind or any other outside sound when alone. We have tried everything and he just continues, but we love him dearly as a family member.
I was very concerned of how his barking, when no one was home, would effect the neighbors. My wife who is a Veterinarian and close to retirement was going to contact a trainer to get Pedro under control. However we decided not to sell and stay in Virginia a few more years before eventually moving back to Manhattan after thirty five years away, except for my many trips to The Met.
I see no difference between constant musical or vocal practice and dog barking when one is talking about annoying apartment neighbors.
People need to be considerate of one another especially in crowded apartment buildings. God Speed, Charles Fischbein

Nov. 28 2013 12:25 PM
Sanford Rothenberg from Brooklyn

This laughable case parallels the difficulties many apartment-dwelling New York musicians face on a regular basis.Many buildings have established practicing hours,most between 10 A.M. and 8 P.M.The range of interactions between musicians and their neighbors run the gamut from the hilarious to the ugly and mean-spirited.

Nov. 28 2013 01:09 AM

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