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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I realize that for a performing violinist, finding that special "soul mate" instrument that propels your artistry to new heights is very special and that a deep emotional attachment can develop thereto. But I'd be floored if anyone who's lost both a child and a rare violin would find those two events at all comparable.
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I've arrived at a couple of rehearsals with music in hand ~ but had forgotten my instrument at home... I've also nearly walked out of an instrument shop with an empty case, because the violin was in the safe; neither I nor the check-out person realized it. Fortunately, it was a light case so I knew something was amiss before I got into the car.
Sometimes it's worth stopping to take a deep breath...
I never forgotten my violin anywhere, but this is my reoccurring night mare.........
Matt, I'm glad you restrained yourself! Oh dear!
Left mine at a railway public restroom once in Buenos Aires, in the stall. I'd been feeling sick all day, and could barely hold my head up. Refreshed myself at the loo, walked halfway to my train platform, before noticing my loss and running like hell back. The cleaning lady had noticed the instrument and barred the stall (as her locker wasn't large enough) to prevent anyone stealing it. She laughed so hard at my sick, greenish-red blotchy terrified face.
Another time, while with a companion at a restaurant, I went to powder my nose after the meal, leaving violin and purse at my seat, and the sweet little idiot [companion] paid the bill, got up, and went to the men's room while I was absent. I returned to a poor freaked out waitress, who imagined I had forgotten both purse and instrument and nearly bawled me out for frightening her. Not going out with that fellow again...
I've made something of a study of this phenomenon. Strads HAVE been left on trains. Philipe Quint and Yo Yo Ma left their Strads in taxis. Glen Dicterow did the same thing with his del Gesu. An LA Phil Strad violin was lost when its custodian evidently drove off with it still on the trunk lid of his car, and one of their Strad cellos, the ex-General Kyd, was stolen when its player left it outside on his front porch overnight. And so on, and so on . . . All the aforementioned instruments were eventually recovered, but such incidents bespeak players' unconscious wish to be freed from the things. Handcuff it to your wrist, maybe?
Most frustrating not to be able to tell the whole truth with my vote, because we can vote for only one candidate. Twenty to forty years ago I left an instrument on a train. More recently I left both instruments in the now defunct Knightsbridge Spaghetti House (the option I voted for). I'm glad to say the instruments were returned soon after on both occasions.
They weren't Strads or Guarneris (They aren't now, either).
215's comment reminded me of a time I appeared at a concert for a community orchestra, and one of the other violinists showed up without her violin. She had traveled too far to be able to return home even before intermission. I was living quite close to the venue so I jetted home and retrieved my daughter's violin.
I haven't forgotten my violin or viola anywhere that I remember, but I bet I did when I was a kid, and have repressed the memory.
I did, however, leave the 1st violin part of Capriccio Italien on the Red Line of the T in Boston. And I had rehearsal an hour and a half later. I never found it again. Fortunately it wasn't a rental part.
I clicked IN A PARKED CAR; but I don't know if my experience counts, since I left it there on purpose -- in my own locked car. I was driving halfway across country, with multiple stopover cities. But I always knew where the instrument was.
Still, I'm sure we've all had the experience of losing track of some valuable item at one time or another. It's an uncomfortable feeling -- and it's such a relief when the item turns up. I'm fanatical these days about knowing where all my things are.
A friend once left a rare and valuable concertina under a table in a French cafe. He returned next day to find it hadn't been moved. It seems that the staff hadn't bothered to sweep the floor and hadn't noticed it...
Arrived at orchestra rehearsal one evening thinking vaguely, why does it feel so light? Realized--no violin! Had left it at restaurant across the street. Ran back and the waiter met me at the door with it. We go there nearly every week so they knew whose it was. Very disconcerting. It is one of my most frequent anxiety dreams, losing track of my violin.
I left my viola at a restaurant once. But since it was a viola, it was safe ;)
One day when I was placing a towel on a couch to dry after a bath, I had totally forgotten that my violin and bow were on that couch. Luckily, the instrument and bow weren't destroyed.
In 1983 I left my Klotz at my workplace The Milky way multi media center..
Next morning at 07.00 pm I woke up and realized I forgot to take it with me. Rushed to The Milky way and god thanks it was still where I left it!
Close escape! BTW this 1763 Klotz is now for sale.
Don't kid yourself, Mendy: The chef might have decided to take the easier option, leaving the onion and cutting up your viola instead.
I once forgot my VIOLA in my car as I left to go shopping at the mall. When I reminded myself and rushed back to get it I was too late: Someone had broken into the car, and put a SECOND viola there, next to my original one! ;-D (C'mon, someone had to say it!)
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January 8, 2016 at 07:08 PM · I did almost chuck it off a ferry boat once, but that was frustration, not forgetfulness!