Miami vice: Viola is stolen from musician’s car

Miami vice: Viola is stolen from musician’s car


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2016

From Greg Falkenstein:

Dear Friends,
My life was shattered on Friday night when my car was broken into and I returned to it to find that my viola and my bow had been stolen. There are no words to describe how devastating this is: the instrument has been my companion for nearly 20 years, and many of you know how intensely connected I have felt to it.
Already there has been an outpouring of love, sympathy, support, and generosity from my amazing colleagues at the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, particularly the viola section, and from the south Florida greater community of players. I am so grateful to all of you.
I NEED YOUR HELP, friends, particularly from those of you in Florida. I ask with humility but also with urgency for any who are willing to do the following:

1. Southeast coasters: If there is a pawn shop in your neighborhood, please take two minutes to stop in and inquire. Please do the same with any brick-and-mortar music shops that may be located near you.

2. All Floridians: please tell all musicians you know about the missing instrument and bow, especially any who regularly or even occasionally deal in stringed instruments. And as it has been difficult for me to find a comprehensive and reliable listing of in-state luthiers, if there is a luthier or bow dealer in your town, please message me because I may not even know of its existence. I need to notify every single one of them.

3. Also for Floridians: I will be checking south Florida Craigslist postings regularly, but for those of you in other Florida metro areas: I would be so grateful if some of you might do the same in your metro areas, with respect to any local e-commerce sites. Also, as many of you know, when it comes to technology, I’m often the last to get on the bus:so, other than Craigslist, Mark’s List, and Offer Up, are there other commonly-used websites/apps for the purpose of selling things locally? If so, message me so that I can become aware of them!!!

4. All music friends, regardless of location: please let your local instrument dealers know of the stolen viola and bow.
5. If any of you have suggestions for other affirmative steps that I might take–things that I do not seem to have thought of based on this post–please message me. I will take all advice with great gratitude.

Here is some detail of the instrument and bow:

1. JOSEPH CURTIN VIOLA: 16 9/16″, two-piece back, Guarneri copy, black pegs with metal pin, black chinrest, black tailpiece. LABEL affixed inside: “Joseph Curtin, Toronto 1982” and the serial number 8232. Another distinguishing feature is some damage at the top seam on the right waist (the cutaway between the bouts) which occurred many years ago when I went through a phase in which I was catching the wood with the edge of my frog…no smarta** comments pls LOL it was a long time ago.

2. VIOLA BOW made by Ole KANESTROM. 72 grams. The frog has sharply-squared edges and a mother-of-pearl eye. The stick has “KANESTROM” stamped into it near the frog…I believe over the frog. It is an outstanding bow and it is evidently so upon first glance.

3. These two things were contained inside a BLACK CLOTH GEWA VIOLA CASE, DART- or OBLONG-SHAPED. The case needed to be replaced and is missing one of the four snaps that affix the protective cloth flap over the zipper.
I wish that I had more and better photos of the instrument and bow (let this be a lesson to all of you…just sayin’). I may continue to add photos if I find them. But I include now what I’ve been able to locate, through the fog in my head.

Please share this post with all musicians that you are connected with, my dear friends. My heart is broken and I am barely able to function. All the same, I must do everything I can to bring my beloved viola and my bow back to me. I ask you all for your help in making it happen. (Positive vibes/prayers/any form of good energy–these are also welcome and appreciated!)

My sincere thanks to you all.



  • Larry says:

    Very sorry for the loss. One assumes that you’ve contacted the Miami Police Department? Most major city police departments have people assigned to “art/antique” type thefts, which this would probably fall under even though it is a modern instrument.

  • Lostviola says:

    Leaving an instrument in a car is like leaving a child unattended.

  • Nick says:

    I realise such a loss can be devastating. But why would anyone leave a perfectly portable instrument that clearly has significant value to the owner in a locked car? If on the back seat, it invites ‘inspection’ from would-be thieves. Was it clearly visible from the outside? If in the trunk, the risk is lessened, but car thefts and break-ins are far from uncommon and so there still remains a reasonable element of risk that many would not even start to consider. I do not know the precise value of the instrument, but if instead of an instrument the owner had had a brown bag with $50,000 – $100,000 in it, would it even have crossed his mind to leave it in a vehicle? I doubt it.

    I hope it will soon be returned to the owner in excellent condition.

    • J says:

      It’s a Curtin viola. His violas go for $32-$35K brand spanking new, and he was the maker whose instruments sounded just as good as, if not better, than a Stradivarius in a blind test. I know his instruments go up in value with time. So you’re probably looking at closer to 40.

  • CA says:

    It baffles me why any musician would leave any instrument in their car like this, within sight or not. Sorry, I have no sympathy. My own instrument isn’t nearly of the value of some, yet I never ever leave it in the car or overnight in the concert hall or out of my sight/possession at any time unless it is in my house. Doing so is just plain dumb — and negligent — in my book.

    • Eddie Mars says:

      Well thanks for your unpleasant and judgmental comments.

      • Nick says:

        CA’s comments are neither “unpleasant” not judgemental”. They are plain fact! Presumably you are someone who is perfectly happy to leave something worth tens of thousands of dollars in your car.

      • Gerhard says:

        I didn’t care that much for CA’s post either. But if one thinks how you yourself phrase a good deal of the comments you are posting day in and day out on this site, it seems you haven’t got much reason to point your finger at anybody else.

        • iris says:

          My cello is a lot less easy to carry … I NEVER leave it in my car. In fact My insurance company (and I assume a lot of other insurance companies) has a clause that specifies that your instrument is not insured if left unattended in the car. Hope that your insurance did not have that clause! It is in there because that is how most instruments are stolen.

          • Gerhard says:

            The Reply function here is a little tricky, and I have made several mistakes myself with it, too. My post was a reply to Eddie Mars’s comment, while your post appeared as an answer to mine, which you probably didn’t have in mind. I guess you wanted to answer CA. To do that you have to use the Reply button directly under the post you want to answer. Anonymous below with his or her super-elegant and intelligent post got it right, if it was that what was intended. The answer then appears verticallly below the respective post. Hope this helps.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are an asshole.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Why is the posted picture in the thread starter of an Amati viola?

  • Larry says:

    Perhaps you might want to list the information here:

  • Barbara says:

    How ridiculous to judge why or why not someone leaves valuables in their car locked up! Better ask – why would anyone steal something from another person!?!?!

    As a professional musician myself, my heart breaks for the viola player. Hoping for the best!!

  • John says:

    I’d be interested to know in what environment and for what length of time the viola was left in the car. Was the area known for high crime? Was it well lit and/or well traveled?

    And I know it can be risky to leave an instrument unattended in a locked car, especially if visible. But by removing it and carrying it with you while shopping or whatever, you’re making it even more visible to a thief.

    Years ago, when my policy would not cover an instrument left in a car, I tried to carry it (violin) with me into a store, and was asked to allow an inspection of the case contents. I protested, and ultimately ended up not shopping there. (After all, are ladies required to submit to an inspection of their purses every time they enter a store?)

  • Liane Marston says:

    (Enough judgmental comments already). The Strad magazine published a reference directory listing string businesses and services worldwide for 2016. There are eleven listings for Florida. Their email is There is a tel. listing: +44 20 7618 3456

  • Robert says:

    The shameful comments above blaming the original poster for leaving the instrument in the car do no one any good. Maybe these posters lack self esteem and blaming someone else makes those posters feel superior. Every year we see news stories about concert violinists with million dollar plus instruments who left it on a subway train or in a taxi. At least the original poster left his instrument and bow in the case in his own locked car. Would you put blame on him if his instrument were stolen when thieves broke into his locked house?

  • bratschegirl says:

    Let this be a(nother) lesson to all of us, that the inconvenience of carting your instrument in to the grocery store or wherever it is that you’re tempted to leave it in the car “just this once,” pales in comparison to the misery of losing your cherished and valuable tools, and the monumental difficulty of dealing with the loss and possibly having to replace your instruments, bows, etc. And you may well be out of pocket for the entire cost, given that the majority of insurance policies explicitly exclude theft from unattended cars. Even if it’s in the trunk/boot and you put it in there when you started your journey miles from where you are now, and nobody could possibly know that it’s in there, it’s not safe. I hope Mr Falkenstein is reunited with his fiddle soon, and I don’t want to add to his misery – I’ve done this a time or two in the past, I absolutely know the feeling of “ugh, it’s late, I’m tired, I can see the car, I’ll only be gone a minute” – but for those of us who have been fortunate enough not to have to walk in these shoes, this is entirely avoidable.

  • Stevie says:

    Will not pass judgment. No one is perfect. I hope this gentleman is reunited with his precious viola. I feel for him. You can’t replace a “partner”.