"Take my viola. Please!"

The NY Times, in their emailed morning news articles, had the story of a pair of players in a former string Quartet who are being forced to give up their instruments to settle a bankruptcy debt. They declared bankruptcy after they lost a legal battle against a former quartet member. Their instruments (and bows) are valued at $166,o00.

From the NY Times article:

“I don’t have words for this,” said Clyde Shaw, the quartet’s cellist. “The letters and notes I’m getting from around the country – the musicians in this country are shocked. They are floored by this decision. It upsets the world that we live in.”

I don’t pretent to be an expert in bankruptcy law. It’s my understanding that the agent in charge of bankruptcy liquidation may not seize the tools necessary for a person to continue their livelihood. That being said, is it really that critical to downgrade from a $166,000 set of instruments to ones rated at (say) $40,000?

In a lot of respects, I’m a musical moron, and this is probably one of them. How much of a cellist’s livelihood comes from people who pay to hear them, yet cannot distguish the difference between a one hundred thousand dollar instrument and a five thousand dollar one? If it’s a high ratio of people like them to people who really hear the difference, then who cares, really?

I guess the thing that jumped me most from this article was the implied difference between these people’s musical instruments and another person’s house, which might be seized in a bankruptcy case. Class warfare, anyone?

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