Theft alert: Horn is stolen from Vienna Philharmonic player

Theft alert: Horn is stolen from Vienna Philharmonic player


norman lebrecht

December 20, 2013

Josef Reif went for a drink with colleagues in a wine bar after finishing at the opera on Wednesday night. He put the instrument at his feet in a silver-gray Samsonite backpack that looks rather like a laptop bag. When he looked down, the bag was gone. Auf Deutsch here.

The horn, valued at $8,000, is registered with a serial number and is a Vienna-style instrument, easily recognised. Reif has alerted all stores in the city. It is probably unsaleable in the locality. Keep an eye out for it online. Josef is in great distress.

josef Reif


  • Aaron Alter says:

    How could he not notice someone taking the bag that was right at his feet?

  • Michael Schaffer says:

    Why on earth would anyone steal a Vienna horn? There is only a handful of people who can actually play it and the market to sell one is so small there is no way the thief can sell it at all.

  • thomas p says:

    A violin theft, be it a Strad or whatever, we can shrug at. But Herr Reif’s loss is incalculable, and I offer my heartfelt sympathy and hopes for an early return. I trust Norman will keep us abreast.

  • robcat2075 says:

    They make tags for luggage that sounds an alarm if it is taken beyond a certain distance from the owner. That might be a useful thing for people who sit in bars with expensive instruments.

  • Mark T. Lundholm says:

    This is of course serious. Thieves are opportunistic and also work in groups to distract. Many laptops have been stolen this way. The alarm system mentioned by robcat above sounds like a very good idea. The thief has no idea that he/she has raised the ire of the world’s horn corps! Other than that it reminds me of Flanders & Swann’s text/song based on Mozarts 4th horn concerto about his stolen horn, ending “he’ll soon wish he were dead, I’ll take up the tuba instead, Wa Wa!