It was 7:51 a.m. on Friday, January 12, the middle of the morning rush hour. In the next 43 minutes, a violinist performed six classical pieces, 1,097 people passed by.
No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Washington 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?
This is a fascinating social experiment on context, perception and priorities. While the organizers of this experiment worried that a large mob would gather around virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell, possibly causing rush hour congestion and general chaos, the exact opposite happened. Barely anyone noticed! What does this say about our modern way of life? Does no one have the time or interest in beauty anymore?
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