A World Famous Violinist Plays in the Subway – What Happens?

A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an
internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at
the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston's stately
Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks
later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would
play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry
that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements. But
on that Friday in January, Joshua Bell was just another mendicant,
competing for the attention of busy people on their way to work.

The Washington Post sets up a unique social experiment – get a famous classical musician to play in a subway station and then see what the reaction is.  Includes video clips. 
(via Reddit)

Comments 2

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Interesting article.
    I can honestly say that I would have recognized that he was a talented musician. That first clip where there are parts where it sounds like two violins are playing at once….that shit is hard. I know that.
    Would I have stopped? I don't know.
    I have to think for a few minutes about the whole thing before saying more. And maybe read it more thoroughly (it was long, and I'm tired of reading). Was the point that we don't “stop to smell the roses” enough, or that people are too “uncultured” to recognize musical greatness when it's right in front of them?

    Posted 09 Apr 2007 at 4:14 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    They portray it as a bit of both – “people don't stop to smell the roses” and “people are uncultured” (as well as “people are distracted by busy lives/insulated by iPods, etc. even in social areas) but the Reddit comments point out that this was doomed to fail. A busy commuter station right before 8am (?) in the morning, yeah, even people who want to stop probably won't. What if they'd set it up in a touristy location or a subway stop near a touristy location? People might've had more time to stop. But yeah, interesting idea and I thought it was kinda cool the guy would take his $3.5 million Strativarius violin with him to do it!

    Posted 09 Apr 2007 at 1:29 pm

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