When this famed English violinist realized that he had forgotten his 310-year-old violin on a train, he feared that he would never see the antique instrument again.
In addition to being a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, Stephen Morris has played with the likes of U2 and Stevie Wonder.
Morris had been exhausted from a day of recording at Abbey Road Studios when he exited the Southeastern Railway from London late last month. He was so tired, he did not even realize that he had left his beloved violin on the train until the following morning.
Morris was “devastated”. The violin is one of the few surviving instruments made by Roman craftsman David Tecchler in 1709. Not only is the violin worth $320,000, Morris has also been playing the instrument for 15 years.
In a desperate bid to find his instrument, Morris contacted the British Transport Police (BTP) to see if it had been returned; unfortunately, officers checked CCTV footage and saw that the violin had been picked up by another train passenger.
Morris then created social media accounts to beg for the return of his instrument. The CCTV footage was featured on national news outlets, and the person responsible for taking the violin was treated as a suspect.
Several days later, Morris received a phone call from someone who recognized the figure on the train. Morris was then put in contact with the man who took the violin—and he had apparently been very eager to return the instrument.
Morris’s friend Mike Pannett, who used to be a Scotland Yard police officer, told The Guardian: “It was quite obvious to me and the detectives [at the BTP] that whoever had this violin was desperate to get it back, but was panicking because they didn’t want to get into trouble.”
“I knew from my experience that we weren’t dealing with a hardened criminal. We were dealing with somebody who had initially made a bit of a mistake [in picking up the violin] and had panicked.”
After reassuring the man that he would not be arrested, Morris met the man in a grocery store parking lot so he could reunite with his beloved instrument.
Not only was the instrument and the contents of its case still in perfect condition, it was even still in tune—and Morris was overwhelmed with gratitude for its return.
“[The man] was very apologetic; he said he wanted to hand it to me in person,” Morris later told BBC.
“I’m still getting over the shock of it coming back,” he admitted before serenading the reporters with a breathtaking rendition of “Amazing Grace”.
(WATCH the BBC interview below)
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