Conductor Daniel Barenboim, pianist András Schiff, violinist Viktoria Mullova, violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann and 26 other German performers have written a letter to the German chancellor Angela Merkel asking her to relax customs restrictions and charges for high-value instruments.
In recent months a number of instruments have been seized by customs at Frankfurt airport and performers were charged large fines – sometimes in the tens of thousands of Euros – to retrieve the instruments.
In February, Chinese violinist Feng Ning was charged 19 per cent of the value of his 1721 Stradivarius, which worked out as a fine of €700,000.
The musicians argue that ‘entry and exit of international artists into the European Union is an important contribution to the cultural life in Europe. This should not be hampered by customs procedures in a way that in the end considerably handicaps the professional practice of us and our colleagues’.
The German musicians propose a regulation whereby they can carry their instruments freely in and out of the country, as long as they have proof of ownership.