Whenever someone leaves a multi-million-dollar violin on a train or in a cab, it's a great chance for everyone to heap condemnation on the forgetful caretaker of the instrument.
Thursday's Strad-on-a-train incident, reported with much inaccuracy all over the globe, is no different. The facts remain fuzzy: Reuters was the first to report that a 20-year-old American woman allegedly left a $2.6 million Strad, ("the 'General Dupont Grumiaux' edition of the famous violin brand") on a train traveling on Tuesday from Mannheim to Saarbruecken in western Germany. ("The famous violin brand!")
With those clues, people all over the Internet tracked down that Jennifer Koh used to play the 1727 Ex-Grumiaux Ex-General DuPont Strad and many jumped to the conclusion that it was her (she looks quite young!). She personally confirmed to me that she no longer plays the violin, but had no further comment. Friday morning The Strad reported that the new Chinese owner of the instrument said that the Strad "is currently not in Germany, nor on loan to the unnamed American violinist who misplaced her violin on a German train on Jan 5."
Well that clarifies things!
At any rate, a complete lack of details did not keep anyone from jumping on board with the usual kinds of disparaging comments:
"Violinists leaving their violins on trains or in taxis would be like mothers forgetting their babies on trains or taxis, how could it possibly happen?" from Slipped Disc. "She shouldn't be entrusted with such an instrument. Dipshit!" from the Violin Channel, etc.
The truth of the matter is that this happens. The more a person plays, performs and travels, the more likely it is that it will happen to them, simply as a matter of statistics. Have you ever left behind your purse? Your keys? Your phone? Your briefcase? If you carry the instrument on a constant basis, it becomes part of your everday baggage, no matter how valuable is. And the violin won't cry out if you accidentally walk away from it.
I once left my violin in a restaurant. One has to set it down, and that's what I did. After I'd enjoyed a nice meal, I walked out with my friends, got halfway down the street and realized, I didn't have it! Thank goodness the restaurant didn't drive away, right? The problem, if you leave a violin on a train or in a cab, is that even if you remember within seconds, it might already be miles away.
Have you ever forgotten your instrument somewhere, even for just a few minutes? Because a few minutes is all it takes. Please share your stories about forgetting your instrument, or about others who have done so.
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