Horror as Bayreuth soloist is killed in bike accident

Horror as Bayreuth soloist is killed in bike accident


norman lebrecht

May 04, 2021

Laurent Verney, viola soloist of the Paris National Opera l’Opéra national de Paris, who played every summer at Bayreuth, has died after being knocked off his bike. Laurent was 61.

He won his position at the Opéra aged just 25.

French musicians are in shock.

Francois-frederic Guy: Upset to hear of the death of my violist friend Laurent Verney. Unmissable figure of the Paris Opera Orchestra.. We exchanged regularly between Wagnerophiles who had played every summer in the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra for decades…
Beautiful passionate musician… Words are missing. What an awful time.
Goodbye dear Laurent.

Emanuel Ceysson: Devastated by the untimely passing of my friend and colleague the great viola player, Principal of the Paris Opéra, Laurent Verney. He leaves behind his mother, 2 beautiful daughters, and Sabine, his partner for years, my thoughts and condolences go to them. So many musical and friendship memories in the 15 years we have known each other, here in Montreal for our recording “L’Opera en Duo”, in 2008. Rest In Peace my dear Laurent, you will not be forgotten.

Devasté par la mort prématurée de mon ami et collègue Laurent Verney, magnifique alto solo de l’Opéra de Paris.
Mes pensées vont a sa maman, ses 2 grandes et belles filles, et sa compagne l’adorable Sabine. Je leur envoie mes condoléances.
Tant de souvenirs d’amitié et de musique en 15 ans, ici à Montréal en 2008 pour l’enregistrement de notre album « l’Opera en Duo ».
Repose en paix mon cher ami Laurent, tu resteras dans nos mémoires.

Bechara El-Khoury: Terrible and sad news! Our friend Laurent Verney passed away at the age of 61… Bike accident…… He was the 1st alto supersolist at the Paris Opera and a lovely person with a big heart… Musician Exceptional French, born in Lebanon in 1960 His mother taught at the National Conservatory of Music in Beirut and his father the great architect Raoul Verney had made many outstanding and magnificent constructions in Lebanon including the Fakra Chapel in the mountains. Peace to your soul my dear Laurent. We will never forget you..



  • Hilary says:

    Very tragic .

    We need to keep on making the roads as safe / approachable as possible for cycling. It’s the way forward.

    • Brettermeier says:

      In Germany, we have bicycle lanes. But that doesn’t stop some sporty fellows to use the road anyway. And because they are sporty, they don’t sport lights. Every gram counts, right? These guys are especially fun at night.

      All I’m saying is: Yes, we need the roads to be safer. Like not being killed by a truck making a turn. But we also need cyclists to be less suicidal.

      • Leopold says:

        Sorry, but this sounds like you never rode a bike in the countryside. In almost all instances I witnessed it had been the car drivers who were reckless.

        • Saxon says:

          Even in towns, it is mainly a small minority of car drivers who drive with reckless disregard for other road users who cause injury to them.

  • Eusebius says:

    I thought bike riding is safer in Europe than in USA. Guess not.

  • NYMike says:

    The chosen track on the album is only harp – no viola. This is supposed to be about Verney. Whose idiotic idea was this??

  • Karl says:

    In Boston they put in wide bike lanes in place of parking spaces years ago after many cyclists were killed. I suffered a severely separated shoulder in a bike accident years ago when I was cut off. If I had landed on my head instead of my shoulder that could have been the end and no one here would have heard Karl’s words of wisdom.

  • Sharon says:

    I don’t know if it would have made a difference in this case but also important are bicycle helmets. In New York State they are only required for kids under 8 but should be required for everyone in all countries.

    • Saxon says:

      Unfortunately, the evidence shows that cars drive more dangerously when cyclists wear helmets. Overall, there is no safety improvement.

    • Diane Lipartito says:

      I had a friend who died in a similar way a few years ago. He did have a helmet on. It doesn’t always help, but I would imagine better to have one than not. No one knows exactly what happened. The driver was driving slowly and was in her lane. It’s possible she may have clipped him as he was trying to avoid something on the shoulder. He fell off his bike and hit his head. Sometimes it doesn’t take much.

  • Diane Lipartito says:

    Tragic. Condolences to his family, friends and students. RIP Mr. Verney.