A thief is caught at international flute auditions

A thief is caught at international flute auditions


norman lebrecht

November 04, 2021

During auditions for a vacancy at the the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice, a Polish candidate went back to the locker room to find that someone had stolen his headjoint.

Police were called. The missing headjoint was found hidden in a toilet.

A Spanish flute player was arrested, and confessed.

Read the full story here.


  • Bet says:

    The question is, did he do it to steal the head joint, or to mess with his competitor’s head space?

    The latter would be so Tonya Harding!

  • mary says:

    Of flutes and flutists, my enduring reference shall forever be to American Pie:


  • BP says:

    So was this thievery or sabotage ?

  • Ainslie says:

    A head joint, hidden in the head.
    Of course.

  • Jeff Morris says:

    In reporting this incident, Is it necessary to specify the nationality of the victim and accused? Is it relevant to the situation?

    • Rick says:

      Yes it is. I say name the criminal! Imagine him being free to continue having a career without his colleagues knowing he is a thief. As reported, he was so cool about it, lying calmly until the very end, which made the people who saw him go through the whole thing think he is definitely experienced and this couldn’t have been the first time he’s done it, since he just played his part so well until actual video proof made it certain he did it.

    • JB says:

      This incident only confirms my opinion of the Spanish, bravo to Mr Lebrecht for not letting himself be cowed by their acolytes!

      • La plus belle voix says:

        So what exactly is your view of the Spanish JB? Do let us know on what experience that is based. I’m sure the world is waiting with bated breath for your words of wisdom.

  • Jack says:

    Back when I was at uni, a professor told me that he was robbed so many times when he visited Spain that he concluded that every other Spaniard is a thief.

    • Franz1975 says:

      That is, without any doubt, one of the most disgusting comments I have read on SD, and there have been quite a few. This is not worth of this website, and I think Norman should remove it.

    • JB says:

      Absolutely right!

    • Anon says:

      One more reason to love Brexit in Spain! If you don’t like it then just stop coming here.

      Here in Spain we conclude that every other Brit is a raucous drunkard.

  • Fluteplayer90 says:

    My, my, my…I think I even played with that thief…A pretty unpleasant guy.

  • La plus belle voix says:

    Guess he did not land the position then.

    He should have a bit of time on his hands to practice however. How about this, with its nice flute part:


  • Alfredo says:

    As a matter of fact, the person concerned (whose identity can be easily found by googling “MUK-Student, Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester”) describes himself as a Catalan, not Spanish. So please, let us be consistent and leave Spain out of this nasty mess.

    • V. Lind says:

      You suggesting Catalonia is not in Spain? Did I miss something?

      It’s like suggesting that Yannick Nézet-Séguin is not a Canadian.

      • Rodrigo says:

        Not really. Alfredo makes a good point. (Although it wasn’t necessary to tell the whole world how to identify the accused. The Polish press unfortunately did that & most of us know who he is.)

        I’ll let someone else explain to you the Catalonia thing, Ms. Lind. It’s a valid observation.

  • Tosca says:

    Many of us know this kid. The indiscretion of the Polish press made it clear who he is by giving us his cv which was totally unneccesary. We are sad for him.

    He’s not a monster. He’s a fine flutist at the very highest level – best teachers, best education, successful at international competitions and auditions. He has a superb instrument and headjoint already and I understand his family to be well-off. He didn’t steal because he needed the headjoint, he stole because of some kind of inner trauma or reaction to stress. He cracked.

    When he confessed to police, according to this article in Polish, he presented a document confirming that he is a kleptomaniac.


    This young man is socially awkward and shy. Many people don’t like him. He’s faced a series of brutal career rejections recently. He’s exceptionally sensitive to rejection and personally I think he just lost it. Who in their right mind would try to steal a headjoint from a fellow auditionee?

    I’m not excusing his actions. I know how it feels to have a headjoint stolen. They’re easy targets for anyone who knows their value, which can be upwards of 12K for gold. Mine was stolen at work, police figured it had to be a co-worker because it was a limited access area. I didn’t think as quickly as the Polish flutist and I waited too long to request the video surveillance tapes: they’d been erased. Insurance wouldn’t reimburse me because they said I’d been careless to leave my bag with the head in it unattended backstage. It’s taken me years to get over this loss. Not so much the 8K value but the fact that it was someone working with me who did it. So I very much get the seriousness of what the accused tried to do.

    But I also know the stress young flutists are under right now trying desperately to find work. Conservatories are churning out well-trained flutists like hotcakes, with no regard whatsoever of how they will make a living. Flute professors who encourage orchestral careers for their students in this day and age are simply irresponsible. These poor kids go out in the world and face rejection after rejection, and frankly I see it as no surprise that someone like the accused here cracked under the stress and did something unconscionable.

    I repeat: this young man is a flutist at the highest level. All he wants to do is play in an orchestra, and he can’t get a job because the competition is eye-watering. He’s introverted and doesn’t have the personality to teach. Is it any surprise that he cracked up and did this?

    Maybe we should have a look at the ethics of flute professors here. What kind of caring and responsible teacher would encourage flute students to enter a profession with these odds? A profession which produces this kind of stress, this inability to earn a living? A profession which very clearly is damaging the mental health of those who aspire to it?

    I don’t excuse what this young man did, but I ask you all to take a look at why it happened and to learn from it.

    • Hogan says:

      Wait…do you hear that sound in the background? It’s the sound of the world’s smallest violin playing a sad tune.

    • Gaspar says:

      You are forgetting one very important thing. No one is forcing him to become an orchestral flutist. It doesn’t matter if 1,000 teachers misled him. It is the individual’s responsibility to filter out such unrealistic comments from teachers, faculty, etc. and look at the totality of the situation. If he does not have the brains to do that, then he is certainly not a 1/100 or 1/200 and should be doing something else. He’s lucky that his family has money…many of us are literally thrown to the sharks after graduating from conservatory because there is absolutely no help extended to us whatsoever. We can talk victimization when there is a candidate that should have clearly won the job based on ability but didn’t based on dirty musician politics. That’s what truly destroys lives.

      • Tosca says:

        Agree completely. But interestingly, if you know this kid, you’ll know that’s exactly what happened to him.

        He won a job fair and square based on competitive, impartial auditions. He was thrilled and began the job. Within a few months he was fired because of exactly what you describe: dirty musician politics. He was replaced with the conductor’s girlfriend or something like that. Must have been devastating.

        Maybe that’s what sent him over the edge into being a kleptomaniac. Who knows.

  • christopher storey says:

    AAAAH ! It’s all the fault of society ! Spare me any more of this crap. This fellow should be run out of town, never to be heard of on the musical scene again