In the Washington DC metro station one chilly morning, a young man played six classical pieces on a violin, with his case opened to accept donations.
During the 45 minutes he played, just over 1,000 people passed by.
He played for three minutes before a man paused to watch. After seven minutes, a woman dropped the first dollar into his case. After 10 minutes, a three-year-old boy stopped to listen but his mother tugged him away ~ an act repeated several times with children and their parents.
At the end of the 45 minutes, the musician had collected $32. He left without collecting a single applause.
The musician that morning was Joshua Bell, one of the world’s greatest violinists. He had been playing some of the most intricate violin music ever written ~ including the “Chaconne” from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor ~ on an 18th century Stradivari violin valued at $3.5 million. Two days earlier, the young virtuoso had sold out Symphony Hall in Boston at $100 a seat.
The metro-station performance was part of a 2007 experiment sponsored by the Washington Post about people’s perceptions and priorities. The question: In a commonplace environment, at a regular hour, do we perceive and appreciate beauty?
Click here for the complete Washington Post article.