German media name the two violists in Berlin Philharmonic fight

German media name the two violists in Berlin Philharmonic fight


norman lebrecht

October 13, 2016

We reported earlier that a present member of the viola section is suing a former member for selling him a viola that proved to be a fake.

Under German legal convention, the names were withheld.

That convention has now been broken by some Berlin media and we see no reason to preserve fake identities.

So: Micha Afkham, 37, a Berlin Philharmonic violist, bought the instrument his former colleague in the orchestra Helmut Nicolai, who is 69. Read the full story here.

micha-afkham  vs  helmut-nicolai


  • Max Grimm says:

    “Berlin Philharmonic Fight”, right

    • John Borstlap says:

      Once a Philharmoniker, always a Philharmoniker.

      • Max Grimm says:

        There is that saying but there are those who would argue that a musician will only always be a (Berliner) Philharmoniker if a he/she has 30 or more years of service in the orchestra, or a his/her age added to the years of his/her service equals 85.

  • John Borstlap says:

    The duped is the brother, I think, of the conductor David Afkham. Excellent musicians with an immigrant background, die es geschafft haben. David Afkham has a profound affinity with the German musical tradition. Yes, such things are quite possible.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Yes. The others, die es geschafft haben:

    • Peter says:

      Not so much an immigrant background. The mother is German born of German ancestry, the father immigrated when 20 for studying, and lives in Germany ever since. They are all born and raised in Germany.
      People with typical immigrant backgrounds, who made it, are for example the Jurowskijs, Russian born and immigrated to Germany in their youth. There are many more.

  • Andrew Barnard says:

    Terrible journalism. As others are duly pointing out, there is no “Berlin Philharmonic fight”. Are you trying to make it appear that the orchestra is having internal conflicts? Whatever your motives, you should apologize for being misleading and vitriolic.

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Norman, Norman, naughty Norman! When I read your titles, I am automatically led to believe that two current, sitting members of the Berlin Phil are involved in a lawsuit with each other. But when one guy left the orchestra when the other guy was a babe in arms, decades before the became a member – c’mon.

    The more accurate title would be “Two Violists from Prominent German Orchestras Fight It Out in Court”.

    That’s not totally lacking in sensationalism.

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Museart says:

      Totally agree. NL is nothing else but a slippy blogger trying to turn everything into “sensationalism” but certainly not a serious (music) journalist.

  • Ganymede says:

    Helmut Nicolai is a wonderful musician, he first played the Viola under Celibidache and then in the Rosamunde Quartett. Too bad he’s involved in this, I have the highest respect and admiration for him!