Houston principal appeals for his missing sound

Houston principal appeals for his missing sound


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2020

From Mark Nuccio, principal clarinet of the Houston Symphony:


I have the ultimate violation today when my Clarinets were stolen out of my car. It was a 20 year pursuit to find the sound that I had been seeking including two Charles Chedeville Mouthpieces, two gold Momotake ligatures, an actual Jacobi Bb barrel, a fantastic Moennig A barrel made great by none other than Mark Jacobi, the best Buffet R13 A clarinet (ser #583110) I have ever played, and my brand new R13 Prestige Bb (ser #716528) all wrapped up in a Buffet Legende double pouchette case and in a Tumi backpack. I hope they don’t end up in a trash can. If pawned, I feel quite comfortable that I will get them back one day.

I guess the main lesson to be learned is to not leave your clarinets unattended even for 5 minutes. Obviously if you are approached to purchase these, I plead with you to pay what you need to pay and I’ll buy them from you. I have attached photos of the type of backpack, case and color scheme.

Thanks to all of my friends for keeping their eyes and ears open on my behalf!

With Sincere Appreciation,

Mark Nuccio



  • K says:

    Very sorry to hear of the theft of your instruments and gear. Though not directly in the clarinet orbit, I will certainly report any transactions that I hear of that involve these makers.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    What a nightmare.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Was the backpack in plain sight or locked in the trunk?
    The SFPD are constantly reminding people here in The City to never leave anything in a car in plain sight.
    Of course it’s a shame they were stolen, but carelessness on the part of Mr. Nuccio may have had something to do with it.
    I hope he gets his gear back unharmed and has learned his lesson well.

    • christopher storey says:

      To Bottini : Your persistently snide remarks about other people are, to put it at its lowest, tiresome . Why not just go somewhere else to spread your badwill ?

      • Larry D says:

        One man’s badwill (sic) is another person’s common sense.

      • Greg Bottini says:

        Dear Mr. christopher storey,
        I don’t recall ever meeting you, so common etiquette requires that you should be addressing
        me as Mr. Bottini.
        My remarks, as you comprehend them, may very well seem snide. But I couldn’t possibly comment about that.
        I have no “badwill” (a new word in the English vocabulary – it does not appear in the OED – I am assuming that you meant to write “bad will”) towards you or anyone else, including the unfortunate Mr. Nuccio. I was merely inquiring about the details of the theft and pointing out what our own local law enforcement agency emphasizes re: leaving valuable items in parked cars.
        If in fact Mr. Nuccio DID leave his valuable gear in plain sight in an unattended car, then what is your point in raking ME over the coals? As Sir David Geffen-Hall says below, “stupid is as stupid does”.

    • AstorEd says:

      “Mr. Nuccio may have had something to do with it.”

      Speciously blaming the victim without a shred of evidence? Seriously?

    • Michael says:

      Just as bad is being seen putting an instrument in the trunk. If you are parking near work, and you are a musician, you can be sure that you will be watched. Once somebody sees you leaving something in the trunk it will be gone. It is one thing to open the trunk, put your horn in, and then drive away. If you walk away, it will be stolen.

  • Bill says:

    Car: not a mobile storage locker.

    A terrible blow, to be sure, and I hope he gets them back.

  • Robert Roy says:

    Very sad news. Best of luck in tracing them.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    Anyone who has called AAA to get their door unlocked after leaving keys in the car knows how easy it is to break into a locked car.

    One should never, never, never, leave instruments in a car.

    I wish him luck, but to be honest, whoever took the goods has no idea how valuable these instruments and mouthpieces are.

    • Liz says:

      Gotta agree, not being snide here. I was taught years ago when I was just a talented HS and college player to never ever leave my instrument in a car. Still today it’s always in a backpack and with me, even if I’m just running into the convenience store for milk. I’d expect someone of Nuccio’s stature with gear that incredibly precious and bespoke to be a lot more cautious.

      And indeed… I’ve called AAA for a lockout and it took them less than 30 seconds to pry the window and punch the unlock button. And they were probably slow compared to an experienced criminal.

      Hope he gets them back.

  • hardcheese says:

    I wish I could feel sorry for him, but as with any musician who leaves his / her instrument(s) anywhere and takes their eyes / hands off them – if something happens to them in your absence then you get what you ask for. Long and the short of it, in today’s world. if your livelihood depends on it take full responsibility for it. Only then if something happens can you bleat on a blog / other attention seeking social media about it.

  • Anon says:

    To Mr. Bottini & several others here: the last thing a musician should have to hear when precious instruments are stolen is how irresponsible they were. Have a heart. Maybe saying that makes YOU feel better (“It could never happen to me because I’d never leave my instruments in a car.”) but how do you think it makes Mark Nuccio feel?

    Is it any more responsible to leave your cello in a taxi, forget your violin on a train or in a wine bar or restaurant? Did Mr. Nuccio leave his clarinets on top of his car & drive away? All of these scenarios have been reported here, sometimes to famous musicians. Does anyone ever chide them for being “irresponsible”? No, we grieve with them & help spread the word so that the instruments will be found.

    Mr. Bottini you mention SF. SF is well known to be an extreme case as far as theft from cars. SF musicians all know you can’t leave so much as a toothbrush on your front seat without risking getting your windows smashed in. This didn’t happen in SF.

    What kills me about this is that as instruments go, clarinets probably have the lowest resale value of any orch. instrument. All of Mr. Nuccio’s gear combined is likely worth a fraction of a top stringed instrument. The thieves will find that out quickly. That’s why this theft is so offensive: it’s not about a dollar amount, it’s about all the time and care and love Mark Nuccio put into selecting the mouthpieces & instruments which he loved to perform on. Any insurance money won’t come close to replacing that.

    My hope is that if a decent reward amount is offered – it won’t be that hard to top what a pawn shop would pay – the and publicized widely, that the thieves will come forward to claim it. They won’t get much for what they have in any possible resale market.

  • Larry W says:

    Mark Nuccio is an artist of the highest caliber, and an invaluable asset to the Houston Symphony. He is remorseful about the loss of his instruments, saying, “I guess the main lesson to be learned is to not leave your clarinets unattended even for 5 minutes.”

    He began his notice (posted only locally in Houston) by saying “I have the ultimate violation today.” That was before he encountered even more egregious violations here. Shame on those unsympathetic, heartless cretins.

  • Anon says:

    Larry W., well said. I agree with you completely. It is completely inhumane for an artist of his caliber to be chastised in this situation.

    In a new update, which speaks speaks highly of Mark Nuccio’s foresight and yes, responsible guardianship of his instruments, it turns out that he had a mobile tracking device tucked into the stolen backpack which held his gear.

    The tracking system, called TILE, traced, within a matter of hours and 100 feet, the location of the stolen backpack. Unfortunately the instruments had been removed, but hopefully this will be a clue in revealing the identity of the thief and the whereabouts of the instruments.

    Since these mobile tracking devices are still relatively new, this is another important lesson we can learn: put the tracking device into the instrument case itself, not the outer carrying case.

    Sincerely hoping that Mr. Nuccio is reunited with his instruments very soon. This is a tremendous loss for an artist of the highest caliber and we are all rooting for him right now!

  • Walter Roberts says:

    Leave it in the rain? It will be ruined. Law of Nature.
    Leave it in the car? It will be stolen. Law of human nature.
    The loss is tragic; they are irreplaceable. But it isn’t like a theft from an art museum. He made a judgment-risk, and musicians must lament the result, and live with it.