‘Noisy’ pianist case is rejected

A Spanish court has acquitted a 28-year-old concert pianist on charges of causing noise pollution and psychological damage to a neighbour.

The court in north-eastern Girona absolved professional pianist Laia Martin and her parents of both charges, according to a written ruling issued on 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 neighbour, Sonia Bonsom, complained the pianist practised five days a week for eight hours at a time from 2003 to 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 that 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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