Please click the arrow above for this beautiful music played by Joshua Bell.
The author of the following article is unknown. The story appears to be a short version of the article written by Gene Weingarten, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his story, “Pearls Before Breakfast,” published in the Washington Post.
It’s not a coincidence that I came across this article right after I posted “What Is Life.” This article clearly shows why we need to pause or stop to give ourselves time to look around and appreciate the surroundings, as I wrote it in “What Is Life.” If we don’t, we may miss the treasures right in front of us.
I hope you enjoy the following article as much as I do.
…something to think about…
Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with
a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.
During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of
them on their way to work.
After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing.
He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet
4 minutes later:
the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the
hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his
watch and started to walk again.
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly.
The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard
and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time.
This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without
exception, forced their children to move on quickly.
The musician played continuously… Only 6 people stopped and listened for
a short while.
About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man
collected a total of $32.
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded,
nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest
musicians in the world.
He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth
$3.5 million dollars.
Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats
This is a true 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 people’s priorities.
The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate
hour, do we perceive beauty?
Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians
in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the
most beautiful instruments ever made….
How many other things are we missing?
In the original article, “Pearls Before Breakfast” which ran in the Washington Post, Gene Weingarten noted that the people who passed the metro station were mostly mid-level bureaucrats with titles like policy analyst, project manager, specialist, and consultant. In his article, Weingarten noted that only one person recognized Bell – a woman by the name of Stacy Furukawa. Furukawa wasn’t very well versed in classical music, but she was at Bell’s free concert at the Library of Congress several weeks earlier.
“It was the most astonishing thing I’ve ever seen in Washington,” Furukawa says. “Joshua Bell was standing there playing at rush hour, and people were not stopping, and not even looking, and some were flipping quarters at him! Quarters! I wouldn’t do that to anybody. I was thinking, Omigosh, what kind of a city do I live in that this could happen?”
The full article that appeared in the Washington Post can be found at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html6