A 48-year-old Norwegian man appeared before a court in Manchester, England on Wednesday, charged with murdering his concert pianist wife Natalia Strelchenko and attempting to murder her 14-year-old son. He was ordered held in jail pending an appeals court appearance on Friday.
Newspaper VG reported that the man from Vest Oppland, who in keeping with Norwegian press tradition is not being identified in most Norwegian media, had earlier been convicted by a Norwegian court for beating his wife, known as an acclaimed musician. VG reported that he served a 90-day prison term as late as last year at the low-security Ilseng Prison outside Hamar. He had declared himself guilty on all points in the indictment against him at the time.
The family, including his 38-year-old Russian-born pianist wife, had moved to Manchester two years ago, where state broadcaster NRK reported that they ran a music academy that among other things paired established musicians and new talent. Newspaper Aftenposten reported earlier this week that another Norwegian, Strelchenko’s producer, had dined with the family Saturday night at their home in Manchester and noticed nothing amiss.
Strelchenko, who recently had used the professional name of Natalia Strelle, was later found with severe head and neck injuries after her son and a young violinist staying with the family reportedly ran screaming from the house a few hours later. Police and an ambulance were called shortly after midnight and she died later at a local hospital.
She was an acclaimed pianist who has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York. and she was due to play with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in October. She debuted at the age of 12 with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra and later studied at Norway’s music academy in Oslo. Aftenposten reported that her Norwegian husband now charged with her murder had worked as her agent.