Category Archives: Classical Music

Vaclav Havel on the Role of the Artist

If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He’s not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he’s really needed.

Vaclav Havel


Do We Still Perceive Beauty? Turn Off the Trash, Turn Up the Bach. #TCOT

“A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people.

The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?”


I got this story from the Knowledge of Tomorrow Facebook page, which my sister shared.

Sonata for single violin #1 in G minor BWV 100...
Sonata for single violin #1 in G minor BWV 1001, Johann Sebastian Bach, front page of the autograph (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It brings up an interesting point which conservatives especially should be aware of. We need to be about more than just conserving the Constitution. We need to preserve and conserve the Western Tradition. We need to preserve Bach, and a culture that values the beauty of truly beautiful music over the destabilizing and misogynistic pablum that often purports to call itself music today.  The themes in a classical piece are deep and take time to develop, like thoughts in the mind. When I get in the car tomorrow I will take the time to find a classical station to program into my selections. Perhaps I can convince you to as well. Your children may even like it. It was they who were most often pulled to the beauty of the unity of Bell and Bach as their parents pulled them down into the hustle of the DC Metro.

Find the True, the Beautiful and the Good and Conserve it, whenever possible that it may not fade from the Earth.