Partner denies murder of concert pianist and former Leeds artist

Natalia Strelchenko.
Natalia Strelchenko.
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A NORWEGIAN classical musician has denied murdering his Russian partner, a world-renowned concert pianist who was formerly artist in residence at Leeds College of Art.

John Martin, 48, entered a not guilty plea to the charge of the murder of Natalia Strelchenko, 38, in the early hours of August 30 last year.

Miss Strelchenko was found with head and neck injuries and died a short time later in hospital.

The Russian-born musician, also known as Natalia Strell, was a renowned solo pianist of international calibre who made her debut at the age of 12 with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.

Martin, also known as Jon Skogsbakken, is a Norwegian national and a double bass player who had been living with Miss Strelchenko in Newton Heath, Manchester.

During a brief appearance at Manchester Crown Court he also entered a not guilty plea to the attempted murder of a male youth, who cannot be identified for legal reason, on the same date.

Miss Strelchenko had performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall and London’s Wigmore Hall, winning praise from the classical music press.

She had been artist in residence at Leeds College of Art and a research fellow at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.

Martin was remanded into custody until he goes on trial for murder at the same court on February 23.

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