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FW: The Violinist - A Social Experiment!

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  • rlbaty50
    It s going around; thought it was worth noting here: A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 8, 2013
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      It's going around; thought it was worth noting here:

      "A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

      Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

      A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

      A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

      The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

      In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

      No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

      Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

      This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people.

      The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

      One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"

      Please share if you took the time to read this :)

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    • rlbaty50
      The rest of the story ! http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/24/AR2008062401153.html Fiddling Around With History By Gene Weingarten
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 10, 2013
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        The "rest of the story"!

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/06/24/AR2008062401153.html

        Fiddling Around With History
        By Gene Weingarten
        Sunday, June 29, 2008

        You may like or dislike my columns. You may think I am a fine fellow or a jackass. But there is one fact you may no longer dispute: I am a brilliantly original thinker.

        I would not say it if I didn't have proof, namely, the Pulitzer Prize. I won it for an article I wrote last year about what happened when a world-famous violinist played for spare change, incognito, for three-quarters of an hour outside a subway station. Playing his priceless Stradivarius, violin virtuoso Joshua Bell, a onetime child prodigy, made a few measly bucks and change. Most people hurried past, unheeding. It was a story about artistic context, priorities and the soul-numbing gallop of modernity.

        The stunt, which I had ginned up, was judged to be completely groundbreaking. The rush of adulation from inside my profession was immediate and intoxicating; suffice it to say that at the Pulitzer ceremony in New York, a beautiful and talented young journalism student was clearly disappointed to learn I am married.

        Quite pleased with myself, I returned home to find waiting for me an e-mail from a man named Paul Musgrave. Paul works in Yorba Linda, Calif., at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, a fact that is irrelevant to this story except that, wafting as it does from the grave of the man The Washington Post did so much to destroy, it smells faintly but ominously of payback. Besides, as you will see, every last thing you are about to read, in some measure, relates to everything else.

        Musgrave told me that he'd been scrolling through microfiche while researching an unrelated project when his eyes fell on a story in the Indianapolis Times from May 1930. It was a wire account of a remarkable thing that had just happened in Chicago. In a stunt ginned up by a newspaper named the Post -- the Chicago Evening Post -- violin virtuoso Jacques Gordon, a onetime child prodigy, performed for spare change on his priceless Stradivarius, incognito, for three-quarters of an hour outside a subway station. Most people hurried past, unheeding. The violinist made a few measly bucks and change. It was a story about artistic context, priorities and the soul-numbing gallop of modernity.
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        I immediately fired off a return e-mail to Paul Musgrave. It consisted of two four-letter words, both in capital letters, the first of which was HOLY.

        In the days that followed, I obtained a copy of the original article from the long-defunct Evening Post. The main story, bylined Milton Fairman, was on Page One, under the headline "Famous Fiddler in Disguise Gets $5.61 in Curb Concerts." The story began: "A tattered beggar in an ancient frock coat, its color rusted by the years, gave a curbstone concert yesterday noon on windswept Michigan Avenue. Hundreds passed him by without a glance, and the golden notes that rose from his fiddle were swept by the breeze into unlistening ears ..."

        We learn from this story that two of the handful of songs played by Jacques Gordon were Massenet's "Meditation" from "Thais" and Schubert's "Ave Maria."

        Two of the handful of songs played by Joshua Bell last year were Massenet's "Meditation" from "Thais" and Schubert's "Ave Maria."

        Of the hundreds of people who walked by Gordon, only one recognized him for who he was. Of the hundreds of people who walked by Bell, only one recognized him for who he was.

        I telephoned Bell -- he, too, had not heard about this other street corner stunt. But, though Jacques Gordon died two decades before Bell was born, Bell knew of him.

        The two men had shared something intimate.

        From 1991 through 2001, Bell played the same Strad that Gordon had once owned, the same one Gordon had played on the Chicago streets that day in 1930.

        For 11 years, Bell's fingers held the same ancient wood.

        There were differences between the two impromptu performances; Bell played indoors, but Gordon did not, meaning that some of Gordon's music evaporated into Chicago's frisky winds.

        Eventually, Gordon drew a small crowd; Bell never did.

        But the biggest difference is that the Evening Post's story -- the brainchild of Michael W. Straus, the paper's brash young city editor -- was a one-day minor curiosity.

        Mine, kept alive and aloft by the might of the Web, went global.

        I'm sitting here looking at my Pulitzer Prize, which is awarded in part for "originality," and I'm laughing.

        Is ignorance a defense?

        Is there a statute of limitations on originality?

        Is 77 years okay?

        Mostly, I'm thinking that around the year 2085, a writer -- someone who hasn't been born yet -- is going to wake up one day with this really terrific idea ...

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