Quartet leader is charged with attempted murder over NY hotel incident

Quartet leader is charged with attempted murder over NY hotel incident


norman lebrecht

May 01, 2015

Stefan Arzberger, leader of the Leipzig string quartet, has pleaded not guilty in Manhattan Supreme Court to charges of attempted murder, assault and strangulation.

He is alleged to have forced his way naked into a fellow-guest’s room at the Hudson Hotel and tried to choke her.

Arzberger’s lawyer said he had been drugged and robbed by a transsexual prostitute. The violinist, 42, was supported by his wife who had flown out from Germany for the hearing.

New York Post court report here.

stefan arzberger



  • Robert Scott says:

    What a strange story this is. I’m baffled.

    • Hilary says:

      I totally agree. I think a reconstruction along the lines of the BBCs Crimewatch would clarify things a bit….either way, I reckon the guy is innocent of wrongdoing.

  • KeyboardCity says:

    Per today’s NY Post article, has the law pursued this “known transsexual prostitute” whom the hotel caught on camera? I should think that’s the key to this terrible affair. http://nypost.com/2015/04/30/violinist-charged-in-naked-hotel-rampage-was-drugged-by-hooker-lawyer/

  • william osborne says:

    There isn’t much baffling about this case, except perhaps the behavior of the justice system. As the DA put it:

    “It will not be first time and won’t be the last a prostitute rolled a john in NYC – it happens all the time. Most of the time they don’t drug the johns to do it.”

    But date rape drugs are becoming much more common and this is clearly what happened here. An upstanding man with no record of criminality whatsoever runs through a hotel naked, then goes into a room and strangles of 64 year-old woman. They have video of the transsexual prostitute leaving his room with his computer, and video of her/him? using his credit card at another location.

    The picture here is very clear. To take away this man’s passport and put him through a torturous and financially devastating judicial process when he is actually the victim of a very destructive crime is outrageous and disgusting. I hope the judge will return his passport and that the NYC justice system will realize it has far more urgent things to do that prosecute this vicitm. It’s actually not prosecution, its persecution.

    • El Grillo says:

      A couple of searches and, you can read hear how quickly a date rape drug can leave your system, in fact it says there may be no proof that such a drug was involved “These drugs also leave the body very quickly. Once a victim gets help, there might be no proof that drugs were involved in the attack. ” But from his behavior, you can tell he was under the influence, which they then dismiss. And so it’s very misleading that it says in the New York post article that there were no date rape drugs found in his system (mentioning he was tested for two), because this wouldn’t be the case. Nor does him walking into his room with the prostitute necessarily mean he wasn’t under influence of the drug, already. Who knows what happened.


      Or here, the amount of corruption involved with “forensic” evidence.


      • Jodi Kantz says:

        Typical male response.

        • El Grillo says:

          You can read here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3064205/Married-violinist-world-renowned-quartet-charged-choking-stranger-64-naked-hotel-rampage-insists-drugged-transsexual-prostitute.html where it says he was slipped the drug while at the bar, and all you have to do is read how those drugs work, a link already shared, and it would be clear that it’s quite possible and not unlikely that he didn’t know what he was doing when he went to his room with the prostitute. Or you could just read what Norman already posted in an earlier post from a statement by the quartet “After he got drugged in a bar he was disoriented for 5 hours and got robbed. All credit cards were used with high criminal energy and serious damage. Investigation is in progress.”

          That would be a bit more realistic and thoughtful than starting a whole stereotyping of what’s wrong with whichever sex and starting a war of the sexes because you’re at a loss how to respond when another doesn’t share your viewpoint, which clearly points to some other wounds than whether anyone knows exactly what happened here, because you DON’T. For all anyone knows, this poor man could have been trying to be friendly to someone he thought was a transsexual, trying to show he was open minded, and then got drugged by a hardened criminal. And I’m not making any presumptions, I haven’t stated I know what happened at all.

      • william osborne says:

        Very true. Date rape drugs are selected exactly because they quickly disappear from the body. By the time the victim is reoriented enough to know what happened, the drug is often gone from the body. An alternative is hair analysis, but this is only now being established as a form of proof, and is not yet accepted by the courts in many states.

        • Kelli Janus says:

          He was arrested an hour after the assault, so there goes that theory.

          • william osborne says:

            His arrest was several hours after he was given the drug, and I see no information about when the test was made.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It is wholeheartedly to be discouraged to take transsexual prostitutes to your hotel room in NYC in the first place. Every player in a string quartet knows that NYC is one fo the fourteen places best avoided for such escapades (according to ‘Der Internationale Quartetttourführer 2014’, page 48-49).

  • MacroV says:

    I don’t mean to play “Blame the Victim” here but the origin of this unfortunate incident appears to be the poor judgment of Mr. Arzberger. Viewed from the perspective of the unfortunate lady whom he broke in on and attempted to strangle, I can see why this isn’t simply being dismissed by the prosecutor. I’m actually surprised they let him out on bail and are considering giving him back his passport before this is resolved.

    And while I’m the first to admit that bad things can happen in New York and elsewhere in America, this could happen in a lot of places – even in Europe, where prostitution is not unknown to occur. So please don’t knock New York.

    It sounds like the prosecutor is aware of this phenomenon, so perhaps Mr. Arzberger has a chance to escape serious punishment. But maybe it will go on long enough that he’ll learn another important lesson: Nothing good happens after 2:00 am.

  • Hilary says:

    It’s not credible that a violinist in a string quartet is capable of such a crime.

    • Jodi Kantz says:

      That’s absolutely hilarious. He was recorded on videotape entering his room with a hooker — and has a wife and perhaps kids at home. So that part’s OK, right?

      • william osborne says:

        Adultery is now equal to attempted murder? Did this happen in Riyadh or NYC? He should not be tried for attempted murder, but rather sent home where his wife can kick his ass.

        • Jodi Kantz says:

          Your reasoning is faulty, as he actually did try to kill someone. I doubt seriously his wife has any interest in coming near him. It’s pretty hilarious that you’ve written articles in the past pretending to be supportive of women.

          • Hilary says:

            William’s reasoning is fine. All of this was done under the influence of a Date/rape drug. People do extraordinary things in this context. Picking up a prostitute might be unwise but even that may have been done under the influence of the drug.

          • william osborne says:

            His wife is already in New York with him, and appeared with him in court. And BTW, my interest in this is due a concern about the dangers posed to women by date rape drugs. A recent member of a top American orchestra’s brass section alleged that she was drug raped by one of her colleagues. The only other woman in the brass section at the time stood in solidarity with her and both were dismissed during their trial year. Two young women at the conservatory in Germany where my wife teaches alleged that they were drug raped, by the same fellow student. The first one kept silent about it until the second spoke up. Both women suffered significant psychological damage. It was a very difficult situation to handle, but the school did a good job. Drugs have become far more precise and sophisticated while law enforcement and the judicial system have not kept up.

            These sorts of criminals go to hotel bars exactly like at the Hudson, where naive out-of-towners can be exploited. Arzberger, a nerdy violinist in thrall of New York, was an easy mark that could be spotted a mile away.

  • David Leibowitz says:

    “The prosecutor also said that Arzberger…tested negative for two date-rape drugs.”

  • David Boxwell says:

    How did Arzberger get in the victim’s room? Every reputable New York City hotel room has at least 2 methods of securing the door.

  • Jodi Kantz says:

    She thought it was the maid — it was 8 am. I’ve opened plenty a hotel door to a maid early morning. She’s a victim. He was recorded on video entering his room with a known hooker.

  • Matthias says:

    I know my collegue since more than 20 years. He never need to meet prostitutes or transsexuals – that is bullshit. But he likes to talk and to meet people. Learning by talking, all over the world. We played in more than 60 countries. My main question is: What happened to him that he could loose the control for the rest of the night? And for shure HE is the victim if you look to the whole story. I believe there are strong signs that he will be ruined and destroyed at the end of the way through court system – unless he will found NOT guilty by the people of a jury!