Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › Music › How we can live like this?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How we can live like this?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi to all!
Just wanted to share this article with you.

It's funny and sad! How we can live like this?

So here we go:

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L'ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

: It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, as the violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by. Almost all of them were on the way to work, which meant, for almost all of them, a government job. L'Enfant Plaza is at the nucleus of federal Washington, and these were mostly mid-level bureaucrats with those indeterminate, oddly fungible titles: policy analyst, project manager, budget officer, specialist, facilitator, consultant.

: The musician did not play popular tunes whose familiarity alone might have drawn interest. That was not the test. These were masterpieces that have endured for centuries on their brilliance alone, soaring music befitting the grandeur of cathedrals and concert halls.

Can one of the nation's greatest musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Gene Weingarten set out to discover if violinist Josh Bell -- and his Stradivarius -- could stop busy commuters in their tracks

: On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.

"Like the instrument in "The Red Violin," this one has a past filled with mystery and malice. Twice, it was stolen from its illustrious prior owner, the Polish virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman. The first time, in 1919, it disappeared from Huberman's hotel room in Vienna but was quickly returned. The second time, nearly 20 years later, it was pinched from his dressing room in Carnegie Hall. He never got it back. It was not until 1985 that the thief -- a minor New York violinist -- made a deathbed confession to his wife, and produced the instrument.

: Bell bought it a few years ago. He had to sell his own Strad and borrow much of the rest. The price tag was reported to be about $3.5 million.

: All of which is a long explanation for why, in the early morning chill of a day in January, Josh Bell took a three-block cab ride to the Orange Line, and rode one stop to L'Enfant."


: A hundred feet away, across the arcade, was the lottery line, sometimes five or six people long. They had a much better view of Bell than Tindley did, if they had just turned around. But no one did. Not in the entire 43 minutes. They just shuffled forward toward that machine spitting out numbers. Eyes on the prize.

Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters! I wouldn't do that to anybody. I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?"

: When it was over, the final haul for his 43 minutes of playing was $32.17. Yes, some people gave pennies.

: "Actually," Bell said with a laugh, "that's not so bad, considering. That's 40 bucks an hour. I could make an okay living doing this, and I wouldn't have to pay an agent."

His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

:
post #2 of 6
The full article is on the Post's website, here.

Some interesting ideas in the article, but it's kind of all over the place. ...

Eric
post #3 of 6
He should have played in the nude.
post #4 of 6
every single street musisian I have ever herd was pretty damm awful, baring my own parents who did some outdoor gigs for the council so don't count (as they had no bucket). I imagain this is the same in most places so people will just filter the music out, saying that this would have been hard to ignore :P
post #5 of 6
I always listen to street musicians to try and recognize if they have any ounce of talent. Sadly, I haven't run into Mr. Bell yet. It's always the polar opposite.
post #6 of 6
that article raises a lot of interesting questions, and answers some.

btw, there WERE people who, against all odds, were utterly spell-bound by the beauty of bell's performance. and one other had a good excuse, he listened to the cure's 'just like heaven' on his mp3 player while passing the violinist
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Music
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Misc.-Category Forums › Music › How we can live like this?