Another London orchestra player loses her violin on a train

We have been asked to post the following on behalf of Ji hyun Lee, a first violinist in the LPO:

Ji hyun Lee, a first violinist with London Philharmonic Orchestra, is calling for help to find her missing violin. The precious nineteenth-century French instrument  –  made by J.B. Vuillaume and known as the ‘Saint Cecile des Thernes 1845’ – was last seen on the 22.09 train from London Waterloo to Dorking on Wednesday 9 November.

The labelled violin was in a white silk bag inside a case which is half black leather and half silver carbon fibre, along with her ‘Hill and Son’ bow. The case has an LPO sticker as well as the contact information of its owner.

Anyone with information is ask to contact the London Philharmonic on 020 7840 4200 or email Ms Lee at


There has been a spate of recent instrument thefts on trains in and out of London. Musicians are advised to take extra care and never to leave their instruments unattended.

UPDATE: We understand that a weary Ms Lee left the instrument in the rack of a South Eastern train. By the time she noticed, the train was gone. South Western’s Lost Property and stations on the line were closed so there was nobody to call except the police, who are checking CCTV. South Western trains know for certain that it was not handed in at Dorking, where the train terminated.

2nd UPDATE: It is found.

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  • Sorry, but as well as a “spate of recent instrument thefts,” which musicians more than most must be aware of, there has been a spate of Damned. Careless. Musicians. lately as well.

    In your quite appropriate sympathy you note that the poor girl was “weary.” I’m sorry, but how much wearier than a middle-aged waitress who has been run off her feet for eight hours or more, or a shop salesman who has spent the day on his feet, running after customer needs, or a factory worker (if there still are such things), or even a secretary — excuse me, personal assistant — to a demanding boss who has also been sitting down much of the time, but has fewer breaks, a longer day and a lot less money for all the aggro?

    There would not be much sympathy for many of them if they lost something on the tube or the train on the way home where, I imagine unlike the “weary” artist, they would have kids to feed and cater to.

    Most of these rare and valuable violins do not actually belong to the artists — they are usually lent. Most of us take particularly good care of the property of others entrusted to us on a loan basis.

    This story is getting old. The musicians are aware of the problem, and they need to wake the hell up and PAY ATTENTION.

    • I’m sure , by your patronising comments, that you are not a musician. Perhaps you should go and spend the day with a London orchestral musician to see how hard we work. Ms Lee is devastated I’m sure , and most violinists I know don’t let go. Maybe she had no choice but to place it on the rack.

    • A little harsh, V.Lind. She wasn’t claiming to be more weary than a waitress would be. She’s also pregnant, and the LPO has had a lot of late nights and early mornings recently. Cut her some slack for God’s sake. And try not to be so judgmental. We’re all human.

      • As a matter of fact I have worked for several orchestras, although I am not an orchestra musician. I am under no doubt that they work very hard, and very intensely. I just suggested that, in terms of weariness at the end of a long day, she would hardly be the only one on the train so suffering. The only reason I suggested she might not have a raft of kids to feed and launder for and do homework with when she went home was because she looked so young.

        I see from the front page since I last looked in that the violin has been recovered — not clear that it was stolen at all, perhaps just left behind.

        I am not unsympathetic to human frailties — heaven knows, I have enough of my own — but this “musician loses [or has stolen] instrument” is a leitmotif in this blog. As it should be — with so many urban dwellers and musical experts here, there is always the chance that someone in this little community could help. But it is also a continuing melody of musician carelessness. It is preposterous that a musician should forget an instrument, especially one that does not belong to her and is valuable, and yet we see it time and time again. I always hope they get them back and am much relieved when they do, but I’m afraid I decline to take an all-encompassing huggy view of this OFT-REPEATED tale. They ARE to blame, when they forget them, walk away and leave them unattended, leave them in a vulnerable car, etc.

        And although it is not my tribe, I find a slur on the blameless Amish rather Trumpish.

        • V. Lind.. is a waitress leaving an apron in the train or a secretary leaving a pair of shoes going to hit the news? Most of us do dumb things when we’re tired but get away with it…shaming someone who’s slipped up is low. Thank goodness this story has a happy ending.

    • V. Lind, your hectoring tone is inappropriate and will do little to ease the distress of the lady in question. I have to ask, do you play in Symphony Orchestra of international level? Have you any idea of the stress and exhaustion levels that build up? You can’t allow yourself a moments lapse of concentration….so at the end of a long and stressful evening, when you’ve given 110%, on the way home there’s that lapse of concentration…
      Please remove that sour look of disapproval from you face, button up your Amish shawl and show the lady a little sympathy.

    • What does it matter if she is a hard worked musician or a hard worked waitress? The fact is she was carrying a very valuable instrument. It was in her possession. As I said in response to a thread about another similar loss, had the lady been carrying a paper bag with $100,000 in cash instead of a valuable violin, I’ll bet she would never have let it out of her sight. Certainly a waitress would not have done so!

    • Yes that’s right V Lind, us weary artists are not allowed to breed so of course we wouldn’t have children to feed and cater for. You seem to be making a lot of assumptions on a subject you clearly don’t know much about.

  • It doesn’t sound like you have a lot of sympathy for anyone. Just because somebody has a job you appear to find glamorous and privileged doesn’t mean that they can’t also be ‘weary’. You don’t know what else is happening in her life (even artists are human, some even have families!!). Yes, many people work long hours in awful jobs for little money but I don’t see what that’s got to do with a violinist leaving her instrument on a train.

  • ==Most of these rare and valuable violins do not actually belong to the artists

    Sure, how would a rank and file fiddler have a Vuillaume ?

  • Rank and file players must really LOVE music. In this particular gig, with Anne Sophie Mutter playing Brahms Cto, a R+F fiddler must feel so anonymous playing the accompaniment to something they probably learned the solo part of at college – but never got the chance to play solo anywhere.

    Plus as a R+F you are only ever playing to the person sitting next to you.

    God bless these selfless people !

    • Of course everyone has bad nights! But those carrying violins or other instruments worth goodness knows what have only themselves to blame they go wandering. There are lots of ways to take naps or whatever and still have the instrument secure. Not to do so is more than somewhat careless.

      • Faux outrage. People need it to make themselves feel better about their own flaws. Now, it has been found. Good thing people got the shorts in a twist or the violin would still be lost.

  • How heavy is a violin in its case? If I had a valuable violin, on loan, I would keep it on my lap. Am I way off base?

    • The more valuable the violin, the heavier it is. A strad goes somewhere between 150 and 200 lbs. French instruments, only about 80. Add a 50lb case and you’re getting up there.

  • Fantastic it’s been found. Just been announced at the LPO rehearsal here in Paris. Looking forward to you joining the tour Jiji !

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