WaPo Experiment Which Disguised a Violin Virtuoso as a Busker

From the Washington Post (with video):

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L’ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play…

…No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

(via Reddit)


  1. There is a great response to the Joshua Bell article by a NYC subway musician in her blog.
    She interprets the situation differently from the Washington Post reporters… I thought you might find it interesting.

  2. Badly Drawn Boy did this for one of his videos (not a virtuoso admittedly, but not exactly unpopular). He made not much more than £10 in an entire day outside one of the big London stations (Waterloo, IIRC).

    (No joy on YouTube, btw.)

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