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Classical Notes

L'Enfant terrible as violin venue

Posted at 2:40 PM on April 10, 2007 by Don Lee

The Washington Post ran a story Sunday that has to be among the week's most e-mailed for folks in the classical music biz. A writer for the paper persuaded violinist Joshua Bell to pose as a busker near a Washington Metro stop.

The result? Despite Bell's (relative) celebrity and despite the beauty of his playing, almost no one noticed.

The interpretation? Music--even great music superbly played--has too few charms to soothe the preoccupied commuter's breast. There was also the hint of a subtext: Almost no one cares about classical music.

Is this cause for despair? I don't think so. The context here is everything. Even the Post's reporter pauses to acknowledge that. But then he plows on.

So, while it's a little harsh, I'll recommend this piece from yesterday's Salon as useful counterpoint.