String quartet defend their leader in New York dock

String quartet defend their leader in New York dock


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2015

The Leipzig Quartet has issued a statement in response to lurid claims made in court at the pre-hearing for violinist Stefan Arzberger on charges of attempted murder, assault and strangulation. The Quartet say:

To whom it may concern: We know our colleague Stefan for more than 20 years. He never needed 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, trusting each other.. So what happened to him that he could lose the control for the rest of the night? And for sure HE is the victim if you stay away from media nonsense and look to the whole story. But we believe that there are strong signs that he will be ruined and destroyed at the end of the way through US court system – unless he will be found NOT guilty by the people of a jury! Immanuel Kant suggested to use your own brain. Please do so!

The judge is expected to decide today (Monday) whether to restore Stefan’s passport and allow him to resume his place on tour at the head of the quartet.

leipzig quartet


  • SDReader says:

    Well, that should go over well with the judge!

  • Walter says:

    In the US justice system you are presumed guilty before you even have the right to say one word. Poor man, that he has had this happen to him in that country. The legal costs alone over there may well bankrupt him and his family for life, as their system of “pay to play” and “if you want justice, you must pay for it” doesn’t always assure fair and impartial outcomes. Also, their penalty regime is most often disproportionate with the crime. Recent sentences that we have seen, for example, eight years for shoplifting, twelve years for marijuana use, confiscation of home and all property for a family whose son sold two marijuana cigarettes from the home, etc. Terrifying legal system! Fortunately though, he has white skin, which over there helps a lot.

    • Fiddleman says:

      What utter, utter nonsense.

      • George Porter says:

        Which bits are nonsense, and why?

        • Kathleen McCarthy says:

          The first sentence is ridiculous at its core. As far as the rest of his tirade,Walter is the one making the assertion, therefore the responsibility rests with him to provide the evidence for it.

  • Kathleen McCarthy says:

    Oh, dear. It’s the Leipzig Quartet that should use its brain. Do they honestly think that publically spewing contempt for the US justice system is likely to convince a judge to let Mr Arzberger out of the country? If there is anything that would convince met that he is a possible flight risk, this would be it.

    • Kathleen McCarthy says:

      And where is Arzbergerger’s attorney and why hasn’t he advised his three compadres to keep their friggin’ mouths shut!

    • Gerhard says:

      There is a saying: “If you have such friends, you don’t need enemies anymore.”

    • Ivan says:

      If the US justice system is fair and impartial then the musings of the Leipzig String Quartet members should be of absolutely no consequence to the outcome, as the case would be judged on its facts and outside comments, for or against the system, would be irrelevant and meaningless to any judge presiding in a fair system. By implying that if friends of the accused voice suspicion as to the integrity of the US justice system, it would jeopardise his case, that confirms that you believe that the system is corrupt, biased and influenced by outside commentary, which it probably is. What a sad state of affairs. From your take, it certainly sounds more like Mr. Arzberger is being held in the docks of a third world banana republic, doesn’t it?

      • Kathleen McCarthy says:

        “that confirms that you believe that the system is corrupt, biased and influenced by outside commentary, which it probably is”.

        It confirms no such thing. You’re just setting up an excuse, aren’t you?

    • Greg Hlatky says:

      No sense whatsoever, but little better could be expected from musicians.

  • Gerhard says:

    Both previous posts have a point IMHO. It is certainly not helpful to antagonize a judge publicly if you want to help a defendant. And Walter’s portrayal of the US justice system may be somewhat onesided, but unfortunately I can’t see anything where one could say he is plain wrong.

  • Peter says:

    If it was their tactics to intimidate the judge into fear of possible international repercussions, they must be very naive and badly advised. US law enforcement usually give a damn about what the other 95% of the world think about them, if not even being encouraged in a paradoxical way.

  • Slipped Reader E says:

    Does the Leipzig Quartet have a publicist? The way this whole thing has been dealt with is uncomfortable. The letter is terribly written and uses profanity – it’s unprofessional, most unhelpful, condescending and states that there is only ONE victim (the violinist) (since they state that he is “THE” victim).

    It would be nice for the quartet to acknowledge that the helpless woman who was attacked is ALSO a victim – whether or not this was the result of a drugging. It would help their case to acknowledge that person.

  • Jewelyard says:

    Yep, the Leipzigers just threw their colleague under the bus with this idiotic note. Are they that silly and stupid not to realize it?

  • william osborne says:

    It is standard practice throughout the world to leave public statements during judicial proceedings to one’s lawyer. This unfortunate statement is a good example of why. Mentioning Kant in reference to tranny prostitutes and strangling old ladies is especially rich.

    I’m sure Arzberger is innocent due to impairment. If he and his colleagues feel they need to make public statements, they should hire a publicist, or at the very least consult very closely with an American friend who is mature, cautious, sober, taciturn, and who will prepare very carefully crafted, strategic statements, and only when absolutely necessary. As the post from Matthias illustrates, it is not only a matter of linguistic problems, but also cultural differences that need to be “translated” and tempered.