Pearls Before Breakfast - Washington Post article

  1. being a violinist and classical music lover, I found this article to be particularly interesting and a bit sad... I've included an excerpt and a link:

    Pearls Before Breakfast

    Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out.

    By Gene Weingarten
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, April 8, 2007; Page W10

    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.

    Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?

    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. 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?

    For more of the article:
  2. Yeah, that was really sad! I love classical music.
  3. i saw this on tv today...very interesting
  4. NPR carried this story this week. I found it so sad that we humans can be so singleminded about something (anything) that we lose sight of beauty.
  5. Wow, I wish I had to get off the metro at that stop, I definitely would have stopped and listened.

    I think the problem with society is we do not value the arts as a whole, and therefore are not trained to differentiate between a true work of art, and something that maybe just sounds or looks good. Because of this people don't care to figure it out. If one has never really played a musical instrument, they have no idea what a true musician should sound like.
  6. Wow, very sad. I also love classical music. Had they done it in the evening rush hour, though, the result probably would have been different. I am sure some people may have wanted to stop, but were afraid to be late for work.
  7. I listened to his entire performance today. It was beautiful. I find it interesting that it was a little boy who wanted to stay and listen more than anything. We should pay more attention to children! They're smart :yes:
  8. gosh, its like this in NYC. in central park on a warm day, jiulliard music students would just practice in a quartet and make LOTSA money. seriously people would give alot of money and they were just practicing. i think it also has to do with location. in manhattan, the musicians in the subways aren't really paid attention to which is sad because some have talent.
  9. beautifully written article, really great.

    i played the viola as part of a symphony for 7 years, i would have definately stopped. there's a guy that plays downtown a lot, and i always stop and listen to him, even though i usually don't give money because i rarely have any on me. it always makes me smile and makes my day a little brighter.

    maybe, at 21, i'm still enough of a child to instinctually notice beauty.
  10. Totally with you here !

    This was such a beautiful article..
  11. I heard this interview with Joshua Bell on MPR. He made $52 in less than an hour. He gave the money to a friend. The reporter did not mention the $20 he received from an admirer.
  12. By all rights, I should immediately go back to the last time you cried thread and update.

    I don't know what terrible thing it says about me, but this story fills me with more sadness than the one about the boy, yes, boy, he was 21, throwing himself off the Empire State Building.

    I don't like the psychic connection that comes to me unbidden, between the two events. In such a society as ours, is such despair to be wondered at?

    Life can be quite effectively discarded without hurling oneself off a building.

    I suppose that is the lesson here, if there is one.