The Dark Side of Classical Music
A Lawsuit of Epic Nastiness to Ponder—and Learn From
Jan. 12, 2006: Vol. 2, Issue No. 3
IN THE NEWS
2 Musicians in a Legal Dispute Will Keep Their Instruments
An anonymous donor has stepped forward with $200,000 to help members of the Audubon String Quartet avoid the loss of their instruments in a legal dispute with a member they had dismissed, people involved in the case said yesterday.
—Daniel J. Wakin, The New York Times, Jan. 11, 2006
On Feb. 21, 2000, at a rehearsal of the world-renowned Audubon String Quartet, first violinist David Ehrlich was coldcocked.
He was handed a letter informing him that his three colleagues had met and that he was being fired on the spot after 16 years.
Ehrlich promptly sued the other members of the quartet for wrongful dismissal. On Dec. 20, 2001, the court awarded Ehrlich $611,000.
The founder of the quartet, cellist Clyde Thomas Shaw, and his wife, Doris Lederer, the violist, filed for bankruptcy and will likely lose their house, bank accounts, snow blower, lawnmower and car. In addition, they were ordered to turn over their instruments to a court-appointed trustee in Roanoke, Va. at 4 p.m. on Dec. 23, 2005, for public sale to help satisfy the judgment.
The third member of the group, Akemi Takayama, has also filed for bankruptcy. Her case is currently in limbo, but she may lose the violin given her by her grandmother.
In a late development this week, it appears that the musicians will not lsoe their precious instruments. (See below.)
It is unimaginable that in the effete and genteel world of classical music, a string quartet could blow sky-high in a very public way.
The story is not only fascinating, but directly relates to every business in the world.
My neighbor's son-in-law is an elegant, young viola player named David Yang, tall and thin with a long, aristocratic face and a neatly trimmed thatch of black hair. Very well connected in the world of classical music, both in Philadelphia and nationally, David performs, teaches, coaches and gives master classes.