More on Joshua Bell Playing in the DC Metro:
A number of readers enjoyed the Washington Post's story this weekend about Joshua Bell playing in the DC Metro. On Monday, the Post did an online chat with the author of the piece, Gene Weingarten, that sheds light on the story and reader reaction to it. (Hat tip: ZSM)
cirby (mail):
I've seen a similar situation, 30 years ago - a jazz quartet playing on a sidewalk in Deep Ellum in Dallas for tips, and people were walking by, barely slowing. Three of the four were Grammy nominees.
4.12.2007 1:29pm
Gene Weingarten is one of the best writers working today for any US Newspaper. His article on the "Great Zucchini", an entertainer for kids' birthday parties, is probably the best human interest piece I've ever read.

I know a lot of those who read this blog are attorneys with "all you can eat" Westlaw access to the Washington Post. I strongly encourage to look some Weingarten pieces, especially the Great Zucchini one. He's a truly gifted writer.

[OK Comments: I agree, Weingarten is fantastic. We blogged about that wonderful article, too, I believe more than once. Here's one post on it.]
4.12.2007 1:36pm
W. Atpoi (mail):
The air track is my friend.
4.12.2007 2:14pm
plunge (mail):
I think I'm more inclined to agree with Kevin Drum's skepticism about the piece: ridiculously overwrought and a little out of of touch with both commuting behavior, the modern musical taste, and so forth.

Plus, I have to say that there are MANY extremely talented people playing in subways all the time. They may not be world class names, but the fact that a street musician is playing something that sounds really complicated and talented just isn't something that any commuter would startle in surprise at. If anything, it's the really bad ones that are the most interesting and attention getting.
4.12.2007 2:54pm
Colin (mail):
Thanks for posting this; it's a great follow-up to the article. Although it's not relevant to the subject, I especially liked Weingarten's take on Johnny Hart, thrown in there as a response to an off-topic question.
4.12.2007 3:06pm
Andy (mail):
I found the article irritating.

First, classical music is SLOW. To appreciate Bell's artistry, you would have to listen for a long time to the way he plays the whole piece. Just passing by for two minutes, it could be any guy with a violin playing some nice music. It's sort of like the difference between having a guy standing reading from Moby Dick during rush hour, and having (a resurrected) Herman Melville stand there reading Moby Dick during rush hour. Either way, nobody has time for Moby Dick during rush hour.

Second, the choice of morning rush hour indicates either (a) stupidity on the part of the author or (b) cleverness on the part of the author. I opt for the second, as it made for a better story. What kind of story would it be if it said "Josh Bell plays in subway station, lots of people listen and smile and give him money"?
4.12.2007 4:53pm
The 66th St. subway station on the IRT 1 and 9 lines often has Julliard students performing classical music beautifully. I assume that none of them is as good as Joshua Bell, whom I've heard, but I'm just assuming that. My own ears are incapable of such fine distinctions. I suspect that is true of just about everyone besides trained musicians and music critics.
4.12.2007 6:54pm
Randy R. (mail):
Classical music is slow? That's the funniest line I've heard here.
Sorry to pick on you Andy, but this just shows the severe lack of education and understanding of classical music. I wish it were better, but....

On the other hand, I agree a morning rush hour commute was a bad choice. For people who are not morning people (like me), you could hit me with a baseball bat, and it would barely register. Plus, people are usually just a little late to work and need to get now! and most people hate their jobs, so they are grumpy as well.

Perhaps the afternoon rush hour would have been better.
4.12.2007 7:37pm
anonymous coward:
If you play the video you'll hear that some of the pieces Bell played were by anything but slow.

It's true his selections weren't as showy as they could have been. But anyone playing the Chaconne half as well would have stopped me in my tracks...if I wasn't listening to my iPod.
4.12.2007 7:59pm
Andy (mail): "slow" I didn't mean the notes move slowly. I meant the music takes a lot longer to unfold then, for example, a fiddle tune. Classical music doesn't work as well, to me, in short snippets, because you miss 99% of the music.
4.13.2007 12:19pm
It sounds to me (an avid classical listener) like Andy has a firmer grasp of classical music than his critic Randy.
4.13.2007 12:24pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of pieces of classical music that are no longer than your average single was in the 60s and 70s.
4.13.2007 11:35pm