Accused violinist resigns from Leipzig Quartet

Accused violinist resigns from Leipzig Quartet


norman lebrecht

December 04, 2015

Stefan Arzberger, who has been on bail in America for eight months since he was charged with attempted murder after an incident in a Manhattan hotel, has resigned from the Leipzig String Quartet.

A statement by the quartet said he had taken the decision because he was unsure he could return to Germany by the spring of 2016 and this was affecting the group’s touring plans and stability.


Official statement, released December 7, 2015:

Stefan Arzberger Resigns as Member of the Leipzig String Quartet

The prosecution of the case filed against Stefan Arzberger, first violinist of the Leipzig Quartet, continues to progress slowly. A timeline for a resolution of the process that began in the Manhattan Superior Court in April of 2015 is impossible to predict. His return to Germany by the Spring of 2016 is therefore very uncertain. For this reason, Stefan Arzberger withdraws as a member and stakeholder of the Leipzig String Quartet, enabling his colleagues to plan ahead and secure their futures and careers. Stefan Arzberger regrets that he is forced to make this difficult decision and looks forward to a speedy conclusion of the trial in New York so that he can both clear his name and continue his personal creative development. The Leipzig String Quartet will assume all of its future engagements and tasks with a modified line-up and remains committed to maintaining the high quality of the ensemble. We would like to thank all of our partners, event organizers and hosts, as well as our friends for their help and support during these difficult times and look forward with hope to a positive resolution to Stefan’s ongoing and uncertain case in the United States.

Stefan Arzberger

Leipzig String Quartett

New York Leipzig, December 4, 2015



  • Charles G. Clark-Maxwell says:

    This is a sad story in every respect. LSQ is a fine ensemble and the US legal system is moving at a snail’s pace

    • JerrmyLewis says:

      If the U.S. legal system were moving at a quicker pace, Arzberger might already be behind bars. After all, there’s no question he was found naked with his hands wrapped around the throat of a definitely non-consenting woman. His legal defense will frankly need all the help it can get, more time cannot hurt.

      • Jewelyard says:

        JERRMYLEWIS is 100 percent correct. The dude was caught with his Johnson out strangling an innocent lady in a hotel room. Ain’t no going on tour with opus 132 after that. It is an unfortunate story indeed.

        • V.Lind says:

          Nonetheless, his claim s that someone drugged him, which would at least reduce his culpability. It needs to be tried. Given the dismissals and acquittals in the link cited above, he might fancy his chances, but whatever happens a huge chunk of his life has been on hold and his career and reputation may have been destroyed — and be may be a victim. That just is not good enough.

          • Ross says:

            I think it serves him right.
            He took a male hooker to his room, and was unnowingly given a mysterious drug, which causes subjects to fully undress and find an old woman to try to strangle?
            What drug is this, that causes this reaction? Are there plentiful examples of this occurring in other subjects?
            What’s not “good enough” about this for you?

          • William Safford says:

            Anyone who has been drugged without his or her consent, knows the plausibility of his defense.

            Plausibility, of course, is not the same as innocence. That is for a jury to decide.

  • Marg says:

    Its just a very peculiar and very sad affair.

  • itsjtime says:

    He interestingly posted on his own facebook page:

    Liebe Freunde!
    Die veröffentlichte Pressemitteilung auf der Facebook-Seite des Leipziger Streichquartett’s ist von mir noch noch nicht autorisiert. Es war ein Entwurf, der abgestimmt werden sollte.
    Die dafür nötigen Voraussetzungen sind noch nicht abgesichert.

    Dear friends,
    the statement postet on the Leipzig Quartet’s Facebook page is not authorized yet. It is a draft.
    The final version will be published on my Facebook page.
    Thank you!

    • Leipzig Quartet says:

      We are sorry but Stefans lawyer from Leipzig sent a letter yesterday: “we enclosed here the authorised press statement”. We think that we understand this correct. The whole case is so sad and disastrous!

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Leipzig Quartet member Matthias Moosdorf says it is authorised. He speaks for the Quartet.

  • JoeF says:

    This may be for the best, I had the chance to hear them perform shortly after the incident and it was clear that there were underlying tensions preventing their typical standards of performance. This tension may be irreparable.

  • Brian says:

    I understand he’s been staying both at Alisa Weilerstein’s apartment and at his manager’s house upstate. She’s had him doing backyard gardening in exchange for room and board.

    Given that he has no apparently history of these episodes, it seems plausible that some hallucinogen triggered the episode. But who knows? The case will hinge any evidence of the alleged drugging.

  • FRED says:

    My understanding of the US legal system is that going to trial and getting convicted is far too risky even if you have a good defense (because of the heavy sentences) so defendants basically have to accept whatever sentence the prosecution offers. In other words the prosecution basically hands out the punishment. Not a great situation to be in particularly when, on the bare facts I’ve seen reported, there must be a reasonable doubt that he acted voluntarily.

    • MacroV says:

      It’s true U.S.prosecutors tend to use the threat of serious punishments to persuade defendants to accept plea deals, and in some cases even innocent people might plead guilty in order to avoid the risk of a much longer sentence. But someone who has the resources to hire competent legal counsel who can devote a lot of time to their case still has a decent chance at trial or, better yet, persuading the prosecution to accept a plea or drop charges.

      I imagine that while Mr. Arnsberger probably don’t have access to the legal help and expert witnesses of a very wealthy person, he’s probably better off than many defendants. Not to mention he’s white and a professional, which usually helps.

      This case has gotten a lot of attention for musicians and readers of this blog, who seem to think that he is the victim of some great injustice. But the average person – looking at a guy caught in the act of trying to kill a fellow hotel guest (after breaking into her room) – might consider it a travesty of justice for such a person to get away without any punishment. In this case there does not appear to be any doubt about Mr. Arzberger’s guilt, just about his responsibility.

      I certainly hope he is able to establish that he was the victim of a hustle, can settle to some lesser charge, maybe work out a civil settlement with his victim, and move on. And learn that maybe he should avoid looking for trouble.

      • FRED says:

        I read somewhere that, in the US, only 2 per cent of accused opt for a trial because everyone is too scared of the consequences if they go to trial and lose. Doesn’t sound like a system of justice to me (particularly if you’re poor, black etc etc). In a case like this “guilt” and “responsibility” are linked. If (let us assume) he was slipped a drug that made him hallucinate and act involuntarily then he’s not guilty. What happened to the poor woman was most unfortunate. But I don’t see how punishing him would further the cause of justice. That would just be a knee-jerk reaction.