So according to Wikipedia, which is obviously never wrong, Joshua Bell, the Grammy-winning violinist, participated in an experiment in 2007 where he busked at a DC subway station for 45 minutes and collected only $32.17 (which included a $20 bill from a guy who recognized him). Money aside, only 7 people even stopped to listen to him. The experiment would go on to get is writer-upper a Pulitzer.
Joshua Bell (catch him here, playing the first movement of my favorite concerto in the world) is probably the closest thing to a “celebrity violinist.” (Any other suggestions for that title? Itzhak Perlman, maybe?) And yet no one really recognized him.
I can’t say I’m surprised; I don’t think we should be expected to recognize classical musicians by sight, or even by sound. It would be really snobby to assume the world at large is interested in one particular art form.
That said, it makes me sad that no one recognized that the music they were hearing was being executed by a virtuoso. It seems like on the whole, no one is listening.
I’m going to nurse this little anecdote to myself for a while. I think it’s good to be reminded to enjoy all the things the world around me has to offer, as it’s so easy to just, well, tune them out.