Recognizing greatness

Greg sent me this Washington Post article this morning, and once I started reading I was hooked!

No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the (D.C.) Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?

It proved a fascinating read for me. Not only because of the philosophical principals and poetry that he refers to – but he even compares the event to “Koyaanisqatsi”. (so we aren’t the only ones who have seen it!)

This is something I have been battling with for quite some time. With everybody so “plugged in” – do we ever really see and appreciate whats going on around us? Is it modern life that keeps us from recognizing greatness? Or is it ourselves?

If we can’t take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that — then what else are we missing?

Would I have recognized the greatness? Or am I, too, blind to the that which surrounds me…

4 thoughts on “Recognizing greatness”

  1. Wow, incredible! I totally agree, Mark. I wonder what would be the difference in New York… especially at different stops. hehe

  2. Unfortuntaely, greatness is often defined by society and or the perception of how something should be. You don’t expect a world renowned musician to play at a metro station, and society says a guy in a subway station playing an instrument must be looking for a quick buck and nothing more. As we talked about last night, it is the same with paintings. If the Mona Lisa was hanging inside some restaurant in Chicago, would it get the same attention?
    It’s unfortunate that we let greatness be defined by what someone else determined to be great.

    Another thought… Appreciation for certain arts is not a universal thing. Some people appreciate classical music, some appreciate rock, some rap. Of course it also matters what group of people is exposed. In general, maybe the people who take public transportation are often younger people or people who don’t have the money for a car? Now, this doesn’t mean students etc don’t appreciate classical music, but if you go to classical concerts, are they the same people you see in the subway?

  3. Nevermind the last part of my comment. I just read the whole article and it defines who the audience was…
    And you weren’t kidding when you told me this would be a long read!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *