Police question Shostakovich quartet on London patio

Police question Shostakovich quartet on London patio


norman lebrecht

April 28, 2020

Rafael Todes and his family were playing the 4th Shostakovich string quartet for the benefit of their neighbours on Alexander Street, Bayswater, when the boys in blue paid them a visit to discourage socialising on the street.

It was very tactfully done, said Rafi.

No coughing in the middle of movements. And a polite apology at the end. But this is the end. No more street quartets.

This was the moment the cops intervened. They were apparently called out by a lady up the street.

Alexander Street had the best music in town.




  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    Well, if Stalin could shut down Lady Macbeth of Mtensk, the Old Bill in London W2 can certainly stop a Shostakovich Quartet.

    “Not trying to be funny mate ! Healf ‘n Safety, init?”

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    They would be better off coming to Wales and sending back all the people coming to their second homes!

  • HC says:

    What law were they breaking? If it was a noise nuisance, that’s a council matter not a police matter. Had they been playing in their back garden, would that have been different (thinking in terms about neighbours complaining about people growing vegetables in their front garden)? Surely this is no different to the three noisy children yelling their heads off on their private land neighbouring my house. So, what if the family open their windows wide and play there instead? What if each member plays their part individually; surely that’s working from home and learning a new part?

    I didn’t think the lock-down prescribed what things a household unit can and can’t do while locked-down within their property.

    Have the police nothing better to do? Judging from the speed some cars are doing on our deserted roads, I would say they do, as at least there’s a clear law being broken.

  • Dennis says:

    From what I’ve seen of news reports, the UK police win the prize for most insane and authoritarian covid response. The Stasi would be proud of them (and of the idiot down the street who called them in the first place).

    Didn’t people in the UK once cherish their rights as a free people and decry police-state tyranny? Their ancestors must be rolling in their graves.

  • Someone is supposed to say , “It’s a fair cop.”

  • Tribonian says:

    Britain, where everything is policed except crime.

    • Don says:

      It’s easy to be a cop when there is no danger present. I wouldn’t even call LE in the UK “cops”. A real cop jumps into alligator-infested waters with his K9 to pull out an uncooperative suspect, who would make better use as alligator bait, or has to make the hard decision to use their vehicle to run over and kill a suspect that was shooting nonstop at all LE on the scene.

  • Daniel says:

    If they are taking requests……come to the US and play his 9th quartet behind my apartment building. They can sit on the walking trail that is surrounded by lush spring time trees and i can listen from my balcony. Please and thank you!!!

  • Piano Lover says:

    Some lady who does not like music or does she not like Shostakovitch?Who knows?

  • Teresa Stokes says:

    This street is just a block away from me and it is in Bayswater W2, not miles away in Camden! I think some of the commenters did not actually play the video. The family were not stopped for causing any sort of noise nuisance.
    The police explained that it is causing people to “gather” and if you look at the photos, some of the observers are not keeping much of a social distance from each other. As for “authoritarian” the police were very polite and apologetic.