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A famous quartet is silenced by a musical thief. Your help is urgently required

We’ve just had a call from the organisers of the Brodsky Quartet’s 40th anniversary tour of Holland.

They told us that after last night’s concert in Haarlem, while the quartet were having dinner, their car was broken into and cleaned out.

The instruments, fortunately, were dining in the restaurant, but the thieves took everything else – laptops, concert clothes and, most devastating, forty years’ worth of accumulated scores. Many are in manuscript, written by leading composers for this cutting-edge quartet. Without their scores, the Brodskys have nothing to play.

We are assured that tonight’s concert in Utrecht will somehow go ahead, but what will be performed has yet to be decided. The players, needless to say, are devastated. That’s Daniel Rowland,  Ian Belton, Paul Cassidy and Jacqueline Thomas.

So how can you help?

1 If you are in Holland and have a good chamber music library, or are anywhere in the world and have digitised scores, please contact the Brodkys immediately  by email to

2 If you are a music publisher, get in first and fast.

3 If you’re one of the composers, dig out a photocopy.

4 If you’re the thief, have pity and bring back the scores.

Contact now. And read an UPDATE here.

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  1. Daniel is one of our artists at TwoPianists Records – we will also send some requests from our side.

  2. How anyone can be so stupid to leave anythin in a car is beyond me!

    • What a thoughtful and considerate response! It is clear that sympathy too is beyond you.

    • Yes, they must wish that they too were infallible.

    • sara_judith says:

      Because of course as a touring ensemble it is practical every time you leave your car to bring inside all your sheet music, clothes, equipment etc. even if you are just going for a meal? It is enough to ask that they bring their instruments into a restaurant. Sometimes I wonder if some people inhabit the real world or just the internet – or have you been reading this article and taking it literally??

    • Ann McLaren Hodgson says:

      How I wish I could be of help! Having been a victim of crime on several occasions, I feel extremely sorry for the Brodsky Quartet, and angry on their behalf. Some may say that items shouldn’t have been left in the car. My car has been broken in to twice, and driven away – both occasions it was retrieved by the police. My house has been burgled – precious and irreplaceable items lost forever and, my laptop was stolen from the gallery where I was exhibiting – plugged in and working I might add! I truly hope that the Quartet’s belongings will be found, and returned, and that the thief will not be rewarded with any financial gain, or pleasure whatsoever!

    • EineKleineRob says:

      As the leader/librarian of a wholly amateur quartet I find I can barely carry all our music to rehearsals. A professional ensemble I would expect to have at least twice as much. In terms of weight and volume, think of a wide-screen TV in its packaging. Would you normally carry that into a restaurant to have dinner (with your vioin in the other hand, of course)?

      Get real.

    • ow yes they are only allowed to have a hamburger from the drive in restaurant….

    • Elena Hull says:

      Tom Lobo,

      How horrid of you. I hope that the next time you make a mistake, or perhaps something unpleasant happens to you over which you have no control you receive more sympathy than you are capable of giving [redacted].

    • Sad situation, they should have made copies.

  3. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Contact the Borromeo Quartet. They have most scores already digitized and perhaps could e-mail the files. First violin is Nicholas Kitchen is the website. The primary contact appears to be their manager.

  4. Yes, contact the Borromeo’s – that is a very good idea.
    New York Library for Performing arts at Lincoln Center also ressource.
    Daniel, I feel for you. Wish there was something more concrete I could do.

  5. Most conservatories have libraries with scores and parts. Perhaps it would be possible to either borrow or photocopy music that is not in the public domain. For public domain music, there’s always the IMSLP, but there is the time-consuming task of printing everything out and writing in bowings and cues. Without four tablet computers and the necessary turning equipment, digitized parts are useless.

  6. Ditto-I heard that the borromeos read scores off of laptops… Paper is less fatiguing on the eyes bc one is not essentially staring into a light bulb-computer screen for hours on end, tho!

  7. I just called their manager in Madrid and the issue is a complete nightmare but everybody wish to help them.

  8. Madelon Michel says:

    I feel with them – I know the desperation of suddenly realizing something is stolen from you! My husbands viola was stolen during the period between rehearsal and concert IN tHE CONCERTHALL! Just because the recording team left a door open! I am so sorry that I cannot be of more help; my idea was also the Petrucci library IMSLP. But you need a computer and if their laptop is also stolen it is very awkward – you have to find a place where you can get to the internet. Probably the tourmanagers?
    I do hope that things will be returned to them. Wishing them all the best!
    ps I shared this of course on Facebook!

  9. Sorry, but how can they leave manuscripts in the car?!?! Sorry but this is ridiculous!
    If they would care about their music, they would bring on tour photocopies and leave the original manuscript at home! Bringing original manuscripts, and then leaving them in the car leaves no space to complain. I hope they learned a lesson!

    • When you are on tour you almost do not have time to dinner. But imagine yourself taking all your baggage, scores and instruments to the restaurant…How many seats do you need to book? And if you are celebrating your 40th anniversary and want to share it with the audience I think it is an honour that they bring with themselves the original scores to show to the audience. In fact they play with their original instruments and not with a photocoy of them…..

      In any case they are the victims not the one you need to hit. Remember who is the bad guy on this movie.

      • So, you are just saying that somebody playing Bach on an original instrument should play on the autograph?
        That makes really sense… But don’t leave it in the car! That’s really stupid… Especially if you don’t have a backup…

        • If the music is still under copyright, it is illegal to play from photocopies. It is unlikely that any manuscripts from living composers will actually be handwritten, but I guess it might be possible. For sure the composers themselves would have copies themselves if the quartet don’t. The real loss will be all of the fingerings and markings that they have written in their parts after so many years of playing. That’s irreplaceable. Sounds like their only mistake may have been to have left a car that obviously had ‘stuff’ in it, and the thieves just went for the stuff, not knowing or caring that it would be of almost no value to them, but immense value to the people they are stealing from.

        • I see we are talking about different things. First of all I do not think they are performing Purcell’s Chaconne with the original manuscript. Or you really think so? The are playing with their original manuscript. Note “their” in the sentence. When a composer weites a work the musician study the score and make his own annotations like bows, some dynamic indications, fingering and so on. This is the iriginal manuscript of the musician cause no pther musician makes the same annotations.

          If you have a reunion to discuss some Excel workshets and you make annotations on these sheets printed and some one stolen feom your car you will find yourself in the same situation. Of course they have a backup of these scores but not with these annotations. Not to add that the publishers do not let you photocopy many of the scores neither to make annotations.

          Perhaps it is more clear now. Sorry for my english, I’m not native

          • Yes it’s more clear, but keep in mind that when you say manuscripts, in music you refer to the handwritten music… to me automatically mean the music written from the composer’s hand!
            What I see you mean it’s the normal printed music with their annotation, and that’s a lot of difference.
            Anyway, being a musician myself, I always bring the music with me, or I leave it in a safe place, especially if there are precious annotation in it.
            Anyway I hope they will have their music back…

    • of_the_north says:

      This is terrible. Naturally…. it’s the 4th breakin/robbery I’ve heard of this week in Holland!

      It was incredibly silly to leave things like laptops amd orginal scores with no backups in a car. We are unfortunatly in the 21century where this kind of thing is very very common.

      Of course don’t take it in the resturant, but are they living out of a van? Where’s the hotel? Etc….

      I hope it all works out for the best

  10. If they want to play an all early music program, Gustav Leonhardt’s library is up for sale, including books from which lectures could be given. Just an idea, if the program is changeable! Another option, contact violist Rosalinde Kluck, from the Dutch EnAccord String Quartet….

    • Rhonda,

      How weird to see you on here! Though it shouldn’t be a surprise bearing in mind what a wonderful musician you are yourself. I was appalled to read this. I have no idea how to help them. I just hope and send them good wishes and thoughts.

      For those who remarked about the theft and the musicians being silly (or something else) because items were left in a vehicle:

      Please put a little love in your hearts, as Mother Theresa said “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

      I ask you please try to show some empathy and compassion. No-one has ever gone through life without doing something wrong/making what in hindsight is a mistake.

      Leonard Rubino said “Show me a person who doesn’t make mistakes and I’ll show you a person who doesn’t do anything.”

      It is in my humble opinion that it is not the place of anyone to be judgemental about someone else, if you believe in a god, then it is normal that judgement is made when we have left this world, if you don’t believe in a god, then perhaps you believe in the kindness of other humans and our human frailties?

      Mahatma Gandhi said “Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”

      In any case, I don’t judge those who I believe made judgemental statements here, I just give my view and perhaps it will provide some insight/assistance.

      I wish the musicians well and hope that they were/are helped.

      • Hi Annita, Please send me a private e-mail to remind me where we met! Ireland TPC 2011? I agree with many of the wonderful and encouraging things you said. Please contact me, I think I just lost your “manuscript” phone number from my cell phone hard drive! I am thinking a lot now about how I store my music now that I have read this news about the quartet’s loss. Let it be a lesson to all of us! All the best, Brodsky Quartet and Annita!

  11. Jean Vignes says:

    This is heartbreaking. I do scan/back-up all my music (and keep copies in the cloud) but the handwritten notes are irreplaceable. I hope the thief will have mercy and leave the scores somewhere — at a public library or somewhere with a note. Is there any honor among thieves? I hope so!

  12. So pained to hear of this loss. My husband had his computer stolen from his truck plus the backup discs for 2 novels that he was writing. It felt like losing a member of the family.

    I send you loving kindness. Also, to the thieves, may their hearts open and show compassion by returning all that was taken.

  13. Vincent Kennedy says:

    Gaudeamus / MCN is the main contemporary music resource centre in NL; they should be willing and able to help. all the best!

    Music Center the Netherlands
    Music Information Center
    Herengracht 370
    1016 CH Amsterdam
    T 020 – 344 6020

  14. It’s also about time that we stopped trying to blame victims of crime for the actions of criminals. Knowing from many friends in the music business just how stressful it can be touring and having to carry instruments and music, I really sympathise with the Brodskys. I doubt whether they will be able to replace every single manuscript but that surely isn’t the point. The difficulty they face is more urgent – having the right music to play now. As for having copies of all their manuscripts – an impossible task I would think.

    I have re-tweeted this in the hope that it might help.

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