A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston's stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements. But on that Friday in January, Joshua Bell was just another mendicant, competing for the attention of busy people on their way to work.
So what do we take away from this? That the true market value of good classical music is pretty low? That Symphony Hall-goers are pretentious? That's the average dude is an uneducated schmuck? That the real ignorance was that someone didn't knock him down and steal his multi-million dollar violin?