Horror video: Conductor sends soloist’s violin flying

Rómulo Assis was playing the Tchaikovsky concerto in Amarante, northern Portugal, when an extravagant gesture by the conductor Nuno Côrte-Real hit the violin out of his hands and sent it crashing to the floor.

The silence that follows is the sound of mass trauma.

On inspection, the 1809 Nicola Lupot violin was found to have a crack running upwards from the ‘f’ hole. It is said to be repairable.

Rómulo went on to play the concerto on the concertmaster’s instrument.

violin goes flying

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  • Number one rule of conducting – Don’t get in the way. Usually meant in a musical sense rather than literally. Woops.

  • What a horrible accident! But I don’t think everyone should rush to blame the conductor. Look closely and the conductor is at pains to give the soloist as much space as he can, for most of the time leaning to his right. When he hits the violin, he standing dead-centre on the podium and he doesn’t swing an arm to his left with any particular extravagance (in fact I think he is quite conservative in his movement. Rather, in the quite-cramped space, the soloist has edged closer and closer to him and is really by this point a bit ‘in his space’. Not blaming the violinist either, I should add, but the conductor should not suffer for this unfortunate incident.

    • Yes, agreed; the violinist had leaned in to his absolute closest (within the context of this video clip) at the moment of the accident. Too bad the conductor didn’t sense this encroachment, but it was happening all too quickly. And the gesture was entirely up-down. That’s what sent the violin flying.

      • Exactly! I’ve witnessed comments all over the internet excoriating the conductor when, in fact, it’s obviously the fault of the soloist.

  • It was truly a hit or miss concert. (Seriously, though, I hope the fiddle recovers well from surgery….and the soloist from the trauma!)

  • it’s the responsibility of the stage manager to set up all the chairs and the conductor podium so that there is enough space. it looks like the venue was actually big enough to fit the orchestra. When you are a producer or promoter signing an orchestra to play in a church, make sure that the stage manager knows what he/she is doing. Also the violinist has an agent to take care of his and his instrument’s safety. it’s not the fault of the soloist. But personally, wildly waving gestures from conductors usually makes for less precise music.

  • I’m glad so many people were so amused and made jokes about a horrible accident. It is obvious that there was inadequate space in the performance area, and perhaps an adjustment on positioning was in order. To those of you pointing blame, remember a few things: 1. Musicians DO and WILL move! 2. Conductors are not always aware of their spatial limitations. 3. Planning could have prevented this.

  • This happened in 1980 when I was playing a concert at the Caramoor Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. I can’t remembering the conductor’s name, but he was known for conducting under the “influence”. Elmar Oliveira was playing the Brahms Violin Concerto and just before his first entrance the conductor made a large gesture to the left, sending Elmar’s Strad flying into the air. Fortunately, Elmar somehow caught it as it was spinning in the air and made his first entrance without incident, with only a second or two to spare,

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