V.com weekend vote: Have you ever left your instrument somewhere unintentionally?

September 4, 2023, 1:31 PM · Have you ever accidentally left your instrument in a restaurant, train, cab or anywhere else?

left violin on train

It may seem like such a careless blunder, but for musicians who are constantly carrying the instrument all over the place, especially when traveling, it can happen. Fortunately the owner usually figures it out and runs back to get it with no problem. But not always!

This week I was struck by a news story coming out of Bangkok, where a renowned violinist left his valuable violin in a taxi cab, which drove off with the fiddle, leaving the violinist to a desperate search. The story reminded me of Philippe Quint's saga back in 2008 - it was so similar!

The recent story unfolded last Tuesday, when violinist Xue Wei, age 60, left his 200-year-old violin in a taxi that had picked him up from a restaurant in Bangkok. Wei was a prizewinner in the Tchaikovsky and Carl Flesch International Violin Competitions in the 1980s, and he taught at the Royal Academy of Music.

The violin, he said, was valued at US$511,000 - though no source identified the violin's maker (I found one recording in which Wei was playing a 1629 Amati, but it may have been a different fiddle). When he realized he had left his violin, he immediately contacted police. He did have a receipt that identified the taxi driver - this was fortunate! The driver had realized that there was something in the trunk of the car, so he told his boss, but then went to sleep. After he awakened with a phone full of messages, the driver returned the violin. Wei, very happy to be reunited with his violin, played a little concert at the police station, in gratitude.

I'm certainly happy his violin was returned! And I'll say, he has famous company - other musicians whose instruments went missing on trains, planes and automobiles have included Yo-Yo Ma, Lynn Harrell, Gidon Kramer and Glenn Dicterow - and there are many more.

But it leaves me to the question, have you ever left your violin somewhere, even for just a few minutes? A restaurant, coffee shop, Uber, a car.... I have done this a few times in restaurants - realizing as I walked to the car, ooops! What a horrible feeling that is, and what a relief to get it back.

Please participate in the vote, and then share your stories, or other stories that you know, about forgetting the instrument and then trying to get it back.

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September 4, 2023 at 11:01 PM · Lordy no! Even though my violin and viola are not worth anything like $500K, I am always quite careful not to leave either one anywhere. I have left some other music accessories in places, but I always remember them quite soon after I leave.

September 4, 2023 at 11:42 PM · I was able to say that I've never left my violin anywhere because the place I left it wasn't among the choices: I left it at home! I went to a rehearsal once and my violin wasn't in its case! Fortunately I live in a small town so it was only 20 minutes to go home and pick it up. I also once took the wrong instrument (grabbed my violin instead of my viola). Both are in Bobelock cases of the same model.

It's not just me!

One of my orchestra friends left her violin at home on concert day once, and I had just enough time to go home and fetch my daughter's violin for her.

We once got a frantic call from a friend whose daughter had driven to someplace like Cincinnati and forgotten her cello! We were on our way up to Michigan for the holidays so we were able to meet her at a gas station and deliver her instrument.

September 5, 2023 at 12:50 AM · Never did, thank goodness. I’d consider myself at low risk, since I don’t play professionally and am no longer a student. I will take my instruments outside the home only for small-chamber music get-togethers.

Every time I read about a performing artist who has unintentionally mislaid an instrument, I’m on the edge of my seat till the very end of the story. When I see that the player has recovered the instrument, what a relief.

September 5, 2023 at 07:04 AM · Only in my dreams, frequently!

September 5, 2023 at 02:36 PM · I am glad Mr. Wei was able to be reunited with his instrument.

A friend of mine had his high-end trumpet stolen early this year, his companion for over 20 years. It was a great shock for him and for us too but fortunately his instrument was found after 2 weeks. Another final end.

After this event, most folks in our musical group have bought air tags (GPS tracker device) to hide in our cases. Now, if by any chance my violin is left behind notifications will come up with the precise location (you can configure exception locations such as your home).

September 5, 2023 at 05:45 PM · The tracker is a great idea!

September 6, 2023 at 08:18 AM · I confess , i left mine on the train coming into London as a young pro. I realised I’d left it behind almost as soon as I got off the train and went back for it ( it was the end of the line, so the train was still there) , but, even so, by the rime I got back to the carriage it was no longer there.

The six hours before it somehow turned up at a central lost property office were honestly the longest six hours of my life. I’ve never done it since.

September 7, 2023 at 03:27 PM · Pity there is only one alternative to vote for, because I left mine on a train (for which I voted) and, on a later occasion, in a restaurant. Thankfully, both times the people involved did their jobs perfectly and I was able to recover it.

September 7, 2023 at 06:44 PM · I left my Strad in a violin shop and now they will not give it back to me.

September 7, 2023 at 07:28 PM · I left my viola at home and went to play at church with an empty case. I had an instrument hanger and the viola was hanging on it after practice. On Sunday morning I grabbed the case and went to the gig. I got there, ready to warm up, opened the case, and it was empty. Fortunately I was able to drive home and get the instrument and get back in time for the prelude, which I was playing!

September 7, 2023 at 07:42 PM · What's behind Victor's post? Victor, have you no proof of ownership?

September 7, 2023 at 09:29 PM · I was at a workshop and realized just as I got off the exit at home at 11:00pm, that I had left it behind. This was in the days before cell phones, and although I left a lot of messages, I had a sleepless night until I could go back and get it.

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