Just in: Insurance man steals London Symphony Orchestra viola

Just in: Insurance man steals London Symphony Orchestra viola


norman lebrecht

August 14, 2015

A jury in Kent has convicted  Stephen Tillyer, an insurance salesman, of stealing an instrument left on a train by LSO principal viola player, Edward Vanderspar.

The musician had left his instrument on the train after a long day’s recording with the orchestra. Tillyer saw it and took it. Later, he claimed he wanted to return it to the rightful owner, but the jury rejected his story. He had been captured on video walking away with it.

The viola has an estimated worth of £300,000 ($500,000).

Edward told the court: ‘The train was busy. During the journey I was extremely tired and spent the journey reading and napping. When the train was approaching Marden I was in a daze from being so tired. I suddenly realised that I had to get off the train. I was in such a rush I forgot to get my viola.’

Full story here.

edward vanderspar


  • Jonathan M. Dunsby says:

    I think all the LSO players must be in a state of constant exhaustion when you see the crazy amount of travelling they do.

  • Robert Roy says:

    I’m sorry, but I have no sympathy for someone who has a seemingly casual relationship with their instrument. If he’s that tired he should be looking at his work/life balance. Still, it’s not as if the viola was valuable…

  • Jonathan M. Dunsby says:

    I take my hat of to London orchestral musicians. For a concert at South Bank, they will typically have a 10:00 to 13:00 rehearsal, shlepp all the way home (or do some teaching, session work) and go all the way back to South Bank for the gig. Yes, I know Vienna Phil, Concertgebouw and many others do similar, but in London it’s much more brutal than this with all the touring and far-flung places.

    Factor in lugging around extremely valuable instruments like Mr Vanderspar id and it’s curely a hard life.

  • Jonathan M. Dunsby says:

    ==He’s in good company with Yo Yo Ma and Lynn Harrell,

    Also Gidon Kremer who (as reported in SD) left his Strad on a train.