‘My clarinet came off the back of a car’

‘My clarinet came off the back of a car’


norman lebrecht

November 09, 2015

A terrible thing happened to British clarinettist Emma Johnson on her way to last Friday night’s concert. ‘My clarinet fell out of the back of the car,’ she told friends. ‘I arrived at the venue with no instrument…..nightmare.’

Emma had driven to Gatwick Airport to pick up the Engegard Quartet, her concert partners. The car boot was jam-packed full of the quartet’s instruments, with Emma’s clarinets on top. After driving about five minutes they realised the boot was not fully shut so they stopped to secure it. When they reached the venue, at Ringwood, in Hampshire, Emma realised that the case containing her clarinets had fallen out of the back of the car.

The quartet played the first half of the recital without Emma while Peter Eaton, her clarinet maker, raced in with a clarinet he had just finished. Peter arrived, saving the second half, but Emma was distraught at the loss of two clarinets (B flat and A) as well as her treasured mouthpiece and a box of reeds.

Late that night she drove back to Gatwick to look around – in vain. ‘Losing an instrument is like losing your voice!’ she says. Nothing doing.

On Saturday, she tried phoning Gatwick.

What do you know?  The clarinets had been handed in to Lost Property.

‘Restores your faith in humanity!’ cries Emma.


For once, an airport story with a happy ending.


  • Jeremy says:

    Top marks for that member of the Great British public who did the right thing.

    “Must try harder” for the Lost Property office who, when handed a (presumably well tagged) musical instrument case, neglected to immediately call/email the owner of the instruments.

  • CDH says:

    Presumably. Do you always tag your property when you are not travelling?

    Good citizen: +1. Airport for keeping something they may have known nothing about: +1.

    • Jeremy says:

      My instruments? You betcha. They are ALWAYS marked, inside and outside the case.

      I actually think there should be an international registry of instruments (with makes and serial numbers) for all players, professional and amateur, where last known owners can be looked up.

  • Michael Rice says:

    I also play on a Peter Eaton Clarinet,and would be interested to know which ligature is being used on the instrument Emma Johnson is holding,please?