Wednesday, April 25, 2007

On the Playing of Violins

The wonder that is the world wide web makes it easy for us to access information from around the world. From time to time I glance at the front page of the Washington Post. It makes for great reading.

On April 8th I came across "Pearls before Breakfast" a piece of sustained writing by Gene Weingarten describing what happened in January of this year when the internationally renowned violinist Joshua Bell disguised himself as a busker and played on his Stradivarius to early morning commuters in Washington DC.

Would they stop and listen or would they walk on by?

Its a wonderful article and well worth reading.

On April 20th I came across 'Is that...? No it can't be her' an article in the Independent Arts and Books Review by Jessica Duchen. This is another piece of sustained writing describing what happened when a classical music superstar in this case Tasmin Little, goes busking with her Stradivarius.
Read them both, compare and contrast.

I prefer the Washington post article. But I have a question. Joshua Bell busked in January, when did Tasmin Little play? The Independent refers to the Post with the words "In a similar experiment......"
Which experiment came first? Does it matter?
I think it does.

The Washington Post on line edition is far more than a mirror of the paper edition. The written words of the article are supported by video and audio clips of the event. Multimedia reporting. The videos are described by the supporting text but the text is enhanced by the videos. Registered readers can leave comments. This is a truly excellent piece of work.

The Independent on line version of their article is just a mirror of their paper edition, I wish I could hear Tasmin playing, I wish I could see the children wanting to listen. I believe that the Washington Post has grasped the opportunities provided by the internet, the Independent hasn't.

I wonder how many readers of the Independent read the Washington Post?

P.S. Having read both articles I'm not surprised that commuters didn't have time to stop and listen. I'd love to see what happened if the musicians had been performing in a park.

As Jessica points out in her comment below, "Tasmin busked a week ago yesterday."
This comment has led me to her blog where she explains that her boss asked for a "London edition of the original Washington Post / Joshua Bell experience". Perhaps the article should have made this clear.
Now we know who reads the Post!

I wish I'd found her blog as I read the article, they compliment one another.
It's a shame the Independent doesn't point to it.


  1. Just so that you know, Tasmin busked a week ago yesterday. Our piece was a response to the Washington Post.

  2. AnonymousMay 10, 2007

    I've read the Bell article on (she is a NYC subway musician and has a unique point of view about this article) but I didn't know of the Tasmin one - thank you for this info!