If you arrived in a transit station as you hurried to work and there was a nondescript young man in jeans, t-shirt and a baseball cap masterfully playing Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor on the violin, would you notice? If you noticed, would you stop and enjoy the moment? Would you recognize his talent and toss a buck or two into his violin case?
This is exactly what happened recently at Washington’s bustling L’Enfant Metro Station when Joshua Bell, one of the world’s greatest violinists, played his 300 year old Stradivarious anonymously and for free for the thousands of busy commuters like a regular street busker. Did anyone notice? In this moving Washington Post essay “Pearls Before Breakfast”, Gene Weingarten explores the idea of how seldom we pause in our busy lives to notice real genius and ponders the age old question “If a great musician plays great music, but no one hears… was he really any good?”