String Players Gone Bad

A read-out-loud-worthy piece in The New York Times’s arts section today (Kate actually did read the whole thing aloud) on the legal problems besetting three members of a string quartet who tried to get rid of the fourth (and, it turns out, very litigious) member:

The feud pits the cellist, violist and second violinist against the first violinist, whom they ousted from the quartet in early 2000. He sued and won a $611,000 judgment, sending the other three to bankruptcy court.

Now, after nearly six years of legal battling, what may be the last chapter is playing out in a Virginia courthouse. A bankruptcy trustee is seeking to liquidate the assets of the violist and the cellist, a married couple. They face the loss of their house, car, snowblower, lawn mower, bank accounts and, most painfully, their instruments. Another trustee is seeking control of the second violinist’s instrument.

“I’ve never imagined something like this before,” said Clyde Shaw, the cellist. “It’s just the judicial system gone awry. It’s a horrible, horrible thing. Our instruments are our voices, our souls.”

The story’s especially good because it actually gives you some understanding, if not sympathy, for the reasons the guy who was getting kicked out felt compelled to sue.