In a curious experiment, Joshua Bell, one of the top violinists of our time, played as an incognito street player at the metro station L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. He used one of the most expensive violins in the world ($3.5 million) and played some of the greatest pieces of music including “Chaconne” from Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor.
Among 1,097 people who passed by, only one recognized him and only a couple more were drawn to his music. However, every single child who passed by attempted to stop and listen, before being hastened on by their parents. For his nearly 45 minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 (not counting $20 from a passerby who recognized him).
“At a music hall, I’ll get upset if someone coughs or if someone’s cellphone goes off. But here, my expectations quickly diminished. I started to appreciate any acknowledgment, even a slight glance up. I was oddly grateful when someone threw in a dollar instead of change.” This is from a man whose talents can command $1,000 a minute.
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