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Musicians in the fast lane

"Life is crazy for Philippe Quint," I wrote in The News a few years ago. Quint is the adorable young Russian-born violinist who has the priceless Stradivarius on loan from Buffalo philanthropists Clement and Karen Arrison.

And lo, it seems that life is still crazy for Philippe Quint. He is on our front page today after losing that Strad in the back of a New York taxi and -- praise God -- finding it again, thanks to the cab driver.

A few years ago, when I interviewed him, Quint said: "There are points when you don't know where you are, what time it is, what's your name, until someone says, 'Mr. Quint, your rehearsal is now.' Plane delays, jet lags, these are the consequences of my life." The night he lost the Strad, he had just flown in from Dallas, where he had been performing.

Reading about his close call, I thought of something the legendary violinist Jascha Heifetz told an interviewer on one of the rare occasions that Heifetz gave an interview. He complained that there were too many music festivals and too many concerts, and musicians tended to overbook themselves. The he added that younger musicians moved at too fast a pace. "They fly on jets," Heifetz said. "We used to ride on trains and ships." He explained that the slower pace gave musicians more time to study and think about music -- and to rest and clear their heads.

Most of us could benefit from taking Heifetz's words to heart. Were I a violinist, I could totally imagine doing what Quint did, and forgetting a priceless instrument in a cab. Remember when Yo-Yo Ma lost his cello like that a few years ago? Quint wasn't the first, and he won't be the last.

Just another reason I'm glad I play the piano.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman



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