Joshua Bell plays the Washington Metro

Never have I had so many reader requests for commentary on a current topic.  In case you didn’t know, violin maestro Joshua Bell pulled out his $3.5 million violin in the Metro and started playing world class, beautiful music (reader comments here).  Hardly anyone noticed and he pulled in about $37 in donations; here is commentary from Levitt.

The first lesson is that most people are ninnies, with little or no taste in randomly presented cultural fields.  But that’s OK, I can’t tell a good computer game from a bad one, or even figure out how to turn them on. 

The second lesson is that most people don’t actually like the violin.  The register is simply too high for them.  Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (get Milstein) are among the most splendid pieces of classical music ever composed and they repay many repeated listenings without growing stale or tired.  They are underheard, even among Bach lovers.

Most people also don’t like the squawking of John Coltrane; for a treat, try Ascension.  I am convinced these are matters of cognition rather than of taste.

For the pointer, thanks to um..almost all of you.

Addendum: A fellow blogger and I once wondered if James Joyce were blogging today, without benefit of celebrity, and producing prose of the highest order, how many hits would he get a day?


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