Just in: London musician recovers 1709 violin that he left on train

Just in: London musician recovers 1709 violin that he left on train


norman lebrecht

November 02, 2019

The orchestra leader Stephen Morris is back in possession of the 1709 David Tecchier instrument that he left late at night last week on a suburban train.

Police say the violin was handed over in a supermarket car park in Beckenham after secret negotiations. Earlier, police published a photograph of a person of interest. An individual contacted Morris by Twitter.

The man who returned the violin said he had made a mistake and apologised. Police say no further action will be taken.

More here.


  • mandarin says:

    So happy for Stephen. I take the same train with my cello quite often, and would be devastated if this happened to me.

    To anyone who is curious about how he could leave such a valuable instrument on a train, I guess it has to do with growing accustomed to travelling with it, and being tired and distracted.

    Also, he probably put it in the upper luggage compartment, and he was also carrying his bike with him, so it’s an easy mistake to make.

    I don’t think this would happen with my cello because it is much bigger and therefore I can’t leave it in the top compartment or in the tiny luggage racks. I always end up using a seat for it, which is a hassle when the train is crowded, but that means I have my eyes on it all the time.

    Honestly if this wasn’t the case, sometimes one is so tired after a day of working that it would actually be quite easy to leave it behind.

    • Me! says:

      When you have something of value, especially as are aware of these instances, it is incumbent upon you to treat the valuable possession under a watchful eye ALWAYS. Treat it like carrying thousands in cash – even if you do it every day, that simply means you know to always have it under your eye/body, that you always check you have it before you leave anywhere, etc. Being spacey and having valuable carryons don’t mix well

      • Bruce says:

        Tell that to parents who leave their children in supermarkets 🙂

        (Granted, children are not worth that much money, and you can always make another one)

  • Cyril says:

    Wow! Police in England sure are nice.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Not really. The police would have to demonstrate that the “thief” didn’t intend to permanently deprive the victim of the violin. Since the “thief” contacted the victim in order to return the violin, he hasn’t “permanently deprived” the victim of the violin. Hence no offence has been committed.

  • AnySchiffInAStorm says:

    This ought to be made into an opera? Die Tote Stadt II ?

  • Leporello says:

    I love railway lost property offices – so many wonderful bargains: wooden legs, the original manuscript of ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’, 18th century violins, endless umbrellas (many of them mine) …

  • Bruce says:

    Nice to have a happy ending so quickly.

    (Also, it’s Tecchler, not Tecchier.)

  • Greg Bottini says:

    You caught a break there, Stephen.
    Be more careful next time.

  • don quixote says:

    Hold it on your lap. Do you put your baby in the overhead?

  • Diverse says:

    Dear Norman, surely the above comment is racist and has therefore crossed the line? Please remove it.

  • CJ says:

    I wonder what the relation with Brexit might be?

  • V.Lind says:

    He stole a CELLO that was not his. Hard to do accidentally. He probably realised he couldn’t flog it once he saw his face plastered over TV, but he still had the upper hand — he had the cello. He probably cut a deal.

    • V.Lind says:

      My mistake — I was looking at the Jews and Cello story just before I posted this and inadvertently transposed instruments. But taking what is not yours is still not usually an accident and the rest of my thought holds.

      Apologies for any confusion.

  • Frankster says:

    You can take a small Renoir off a museum wall, put it under your coat and maybe make it out of the museum. However, you might be surprised to learn that you can’t sell it because it itself is famous and everyone will know the history. It is the same with very important musical instruments. The guy who took it probably saw the newspaper articles, realized what he had and took the most sensible course of action.

  • Bill says:

    Care to explain your thinking there? Are the faceless bureaucrats in Brussels dictating that the bloke goes free, in your imagination?

  • Chris says:

    Stephen is an extremely lucky man – BUT (and it’s a BIG BUT) how on earth could anyone claim to have ‘taken it by mistake’ ? Did the police investigate the circumstances at all, or were they just working on the ‘we got it back, so all is okay’ principle. I think we should know.

    • Olev says:

      He made a mistake.

      He took it home. He realised it was a precious instrument and meant a lot to someone. Instead of throwing it into the river he owned up to his mistake and contacted Stephen and faced the decisions he made as an adult would.

      He made a mistake.

      • SVM says:

        But what if the violin had been cheap enough that a luthier/dealer would not realise it had been stolen, but expensive enough to be a significant loss from the player’s perspective (sentimentally, financially, and in terms of being accustomed to playing it)? There are plenty of professional violinists out there with instruments worth only an amount in the (upper) thousands or tens-of-thousands.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    A happy ending for the violinist. And the instrument. (And, I assume, the case and bow or bows, not to mention a mute, and other work-a-day contents. These days even a spare set of strings alone would be an expensive loss.)

    I doubt that this thief intended to steal a violin; the days of violin cases looking to a lay person like a violin is inside are pretty much over. That’s why one of the big fears with stolen instruments is that the thief, realizing what they have once they open the case and its relative lack of quick resale-ability, quickly throws it in the river or otherwise damages or destroys it. And it isn’t just the practical difficulty in selling, pawning or fencing a fine violin. Even an entirely pedestrian factory fiddle often gets tossed once the disappointed thief realizes what they have versus what they hoped they had.

  • Antonio says:

    So you are a racist and a xenophobe, then. What has Brexit got to do with this at all?