Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra musician seeks return of her contrabassoon


There are obvious reasons why thieves steal money, jewelry, smartphones, cars or prescription drugs.

But Martha Malkiewicz has no idea why anyone wanted to take her contrabassoon. It’s a woodwind that is twice the size of, and produces a lower sound than, a bassoon, with 16 feet of tubing curved around on itself into a 5-foot-long instrument.

Malkiewicz, who plays the contrabassoon for the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, leaves the instrument at Kleinhans Music Hall when she’s not using it to practice or perform.

The 25-pound instrument – it weighs 50 pounds when it’s in its case – went missing while the orchestra was on a weeklong break.

Malkiewicz alerted a national and international community of musicians, local music and pawn shops and Buffalo Police of the likely theft, which she discovered Wednesday.

Her instrument is 32 years old and worth $36,000. But Malkiewicz doesn’t believe whoever took it knew the value of the contrabassoon – or, for that matter, even what it was.

Instead, she believes it was a crime of opportunity, and one that is unlikely to lead to a big payoff.