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Pearls Before Breakfast: If Valentina Lisitsa Plays In The Eurostar, But No One Knows It's Her, Did She Make A Sound?

By Logan K. Young l.young@classicalite.com on May 15, 2013 08:14 PM EDT

One of Classicalite's all-time favorite pieces is "Pearls Before Breakfast."

No, it's not a Glenn Miller b-side, much less an aria from opera by Bizet.

In fact, it's not a piece of music at all. 

Penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Gene Weingarten, "Pearls Before Breakfast" is one of the great experiments of modern print journalism--first published in the Sunday, April 8, 2007 edition of The Washington Post.

(To be completely honestly, though, we didn't come across it until we bought Dave Eggers' Best American Non-Required Reading 2008.)

At the risk of giving too much away too soon, here's Weingarten's full lede:

"He emerged from the Metro at the L'Enfant Plaza Station and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play."

And at the risk of missing the point too badly, you should know that the "he" here is none other than violin sensation Joshua Bell.

Weingarten's experiment was simple, but brilliant.

Take Bell out of the grand concert hall, have him play on a busy transit system and see if anyone notices it's still Joshua Bell.

We won't spoil Weingarten's hypothesis, but when it comes to Valentina Lisitsa tickling the ivories on her way from London to Paris, well...just watch this YouTube video.

At barely 3,000 views for YouTube's most famous concert pianist, it would appear the answer to Classicalite's rhetorical header is really quite simple.

No.

Play me, I'm yours? :(

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TagsPearls Before Breakfast, Valentina Lisitsa, Eurostar, Gene Weingarten, Joshua Bell, Washington Post

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