Critic remembers trapped violinist in her CDs of the Year

Critic remembers trapped violinist in her CDs of the Year


norman lebrecht

December 22, 2015

The outstanding Eleanore Büning has devoted the first paragraphs of her annual recordings survey in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to the plight of Stefan Arzberger, first violinist of the Leipzig Quartet, who has been on bail in New York for most of the year following an unclothed incident in a boutique hotel.

Arzberger is unable to work or leave the city. He has been obliged to resign from the Quartet. He is innocent, until proven guilty. Eleanore has done well to highlight his plight.

Read her review here.



  • RW2013 says:

    Büning “outstanding” at what?!
    I laugh me dead…

    • Holger H. says:

      Indeed, such much laugh. But it’s the vanity of ze musicians, that gives these for the art intrinsically irrelevant figures all this unwarranted influence.

      The core problem is, that creative people are busy creating, meanwhile the accountants and the critics are sitting on the treasure chest.

  • MWnyc says:

    Now, Norman –

    It was not simply “an unclothed incident.” It was an unclothed strangling of an innocent woman in her hotel room. If help had been even 30 seconds or so later in coming, she could have been killed or brain-damaged.

    And while defendants in the U.S. are legally innocent until proven guilty, as a practical matter Arzberger will have to prove his innocence, because the fact that he choked the woman is not in dispute.

    The point of the presumption of innocence is to require the authorities to prove that they have the actual culprit. Arzberger was caught in the act, and even he does not dispute that he did it.

    He and his attorney maintain that he is not culpable because he was drugged without his knowledge or consent. But he is not legally entitled to the presumption that he was chemically impaired unwittingly.

    Otherwise every drunk driver that killed or maimed someone could claim that she was forced or tricked into becoming inebriated, and go unpunished if the state couldn’t prove that she was drinking willingly.

    • Simon S. says:

      Well, it should be up to the court to determine whether he is guilty or not. And the main problem here is obviously the delay in the process.

      While it is a sad reality almost everywhere in the civilised world that criminal proceedings take too long, the practical consequences of this are much graver if the accused is a non-resident alien such as Mr. Arzberger: Neither is he allowed to leave the US nor does he have permission to work there. So he can only wait and live on his savings (as long as he has some) and donations (as long as he gets some) – NB in a city with a cost of living way above average.

      Having no in-depth knowledge of the case, I would certainly not dare to claim whether Mr. Arzberger is innocent or guilty. But is perfectly legitimate to call for due process without further delay.

      • Greg Hlatky says:

        If I was Mr. Arzberger, the last thing I would want would be for this to come to trial. The prosecutors have a one-day case, a “piece a shit” as Tom Wolfe called it. Q: Did Mr. Arzberger assault this woman? A: Yes. And that’s it.

        Mr. Arzberger’s only realistic defense is that he wasn’t responsible for his actions. To show that, he has said that he was drugged (although prosecutors have said no trace of drugs were found). So, was he 1) drugged? 2) involuntarily? 3) in a time frame for the drug to be the agent of his rage? and 4) with a drug whose effect was to produce the rage?

        That’s a pretty tall hurdle to jump. If it can’t be proven, your average jury – comprised of the non-musician public, who don’t know Curtis from Julliard and who won’t lose any sleep over what Norman Lebrecht says about them – aren’t going to spend ten minutes deliberating. Someone takes a bar pickup to his room, gets rolled, flies into a rage (artistic temperament?) and strangles a woman, nearly killing her? Bang, guilty, let’s go to lunch.

        If I had to hazard a guess, some kind of plea deal is being worked out.

      • oswald Oldenburg says:

        At first: Sorry for my english.
        But only a few logical things:
        1. If someone will guess that he acts with a clear mind, then he couldn´d have any problem to explain, why he runs nacked across the floor…? Nobody does something like this if he is clear in his head. The risk that for example two men or others can meet him on the floor and call the security will be very high.
        2. he knocks on various doors. Why ? And how could he know, that exactly this woman would open, and not a man ? Or better: A stronger man than himself ? Nobody with a clear mind would do such madness.
        3. He has no reason to attack THIS woman specialy. He didn´t know her. What motive should he have ??
        4. He is a very professional musician. His career is probably the most important thing in his live. He ist intelligent and serios. Does somebody like this risking his career because such nonsens ?

        5. It is 100 times more logic, that the prostitute out him something for example in a drink at the bar. Thats an very old trick to make woman submisse or make a robbery with persons, because it´s very much easier, when the victim is not by clear mind. Could be.
        6. Oh, what a myterios coincidence: The prostitute was noticed a lot of times with drug criminal. She ( or he ? ) wasn´t a honest person – in the opposit to her victim, Stefan.
        7. Oh what another coincidence: She trys to use the credit cards from her victim. Immediatly after the robbery….
        8. If somebody add all these points, he isn´t able to come to another result, that he is not guilty. He is / was a Victim too – like the woman he attacked.
        9. And the police made a great mistake, that they didn´t make a drug test. A man who is not by himself, means who didn´t have a clear mind ( that´s what the police officers confirm) , has to take to a doctor, to find out, what happend with him. very simple.

        • oswald oldenburg says:

          The only reason I could IMAGINE why he knocks on different doors could be, that the prostitute tells him, that she has a room in the same Hotel. She could tell that to him perhaps to build a little more trust to him.
          And if he noticed the robbery, with his drug damaged mind, he wanted or he hoped to find her in a room next door.
          He wasn´t clear, so in his confused head, he couldn´t think or act logically.
          And last not least: It would not surprise me, if the woman he attacked accidentally and unfortunately has a bit similarity in her appearance like the prostitute. But in his impaired spirit, he wasn´t able anymore to distinguish that.
          He lived in Leipzig, that is a smaller town in Germany. So I am sure, that this “tricks” to numb a person with drugs is not very well known there. I guess, that he was not forearmed, to the risks which exist in a Town like NY. I guess the most New Yorker wouldn´t never make the mistake to trust a stranger so much to put him into his hotel room. That could only happen to a person who can´t imagine, that people could be so bad, like this prostitute.

  • George Porter says:

    You can support Stefan at