What happened when a French violinist did a Joshua Bell?

What happened when a French violinist did a Joshua Bell?


norman lebrecht

October 19, 2014

1 The film is a helluva lot more elegant.

2 The playing is p.d. good.

3 The first person to give him a dime is a busy young woman.

4 The sound is better on the Paris Metro than in DC.

5 People actually stop and listen.

The violinist is Renaud Capucon. He is playing Gluck’s Orpheus melody on a Stradivarius, two years after Joshua Bell’s Washington stunt.

Simon Lelouch’s sensitive film received a fraction of the attention directed towards Bell.

capucon film

7:57 Am-Pm, 11′ from Simon Lelouch on Vimeo.


  • Michael says:

    1. Where does this unpleasant antagonism to Joshua Bell come from? Whom has he hurt or upset?
    2. I don’t recall the Bell clip bring filmed quite so expensively and lavishly!
    3. The first person to give Capucon some money was Capucon himself, throwing some of his own coins into the violin case to trick passers-by that others had already deemed his playing worthy of a charitable donation!
    4. Did more than 2 people stop and listen?
    5. Was this film made as a PR stunt for Capucon?
    6. Why did Capucon do this “stunt”? I really mean why is Bell but not Capucon being accused of pulling a stunt?
    7. I have nothing against Capucon and his film: like most people we hadn’t a clue who he was until now!

    • OhGlorioso says:

      Hear! Hear! Lebrecht’s antagonism towards Bell is so apparent. Perhaps he posts on his on column as “Milka” to get things going.

    • William Safford says:

      3. Buskers routinely “prime the pump” by placing some money in the case.

      7. I’ve heard him at least twice as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

  • Michael says:

    It is Bell who plays a Strad – Capucon uses a Guarnerius!

  • Olaugh Turchev says:

    Fairytale… Check the guy with the Wilson cap who saw the camera at 4:22 and figured the whole thing out…

  • Micaela says:


  • Anon says:

    “Tailor your repertoire to your audience” is my take-away from this.
    Capucon doesn’t, and instead tries to take something to people at a time and a place that’s neither convenient nor conducive to persuading them to spend time listening to it or appreciating it. A busker needs to command the attention of passers-by, and give them something that they enjoy, recognise, or otherwise respond to, all in the space of a few seconds, if they want to be rewarded.

  • milka says:

    One is getting the feeling that most
    violinists should be playing in lower level subway stations, they certainly have exhausted
    the attention of the above ground crowd.

  • Herrera says:

    Umm, this is a film, with professional actors, with visible cameras, with visible cameramen, with a studio-recorded soundtrack, and probably with a very visible director sitting at a very obvious director’s chair yelling “action” very loudly.

    I don’t know why people think it’s a documentary or some hidden camera thing.

  • Dave T says:

    Why the juxtaposition with the concert hall performance and audience? Is it to show that fancy people who fork over big money to sit in comfy seats are a… better audience than harried zombies going to and fro their soulless daily lives? that charging money for product imparts value? that cultured people are cultured and everyone else is not?
    Or maybe that the violinist’s publicists had some nice indoor footage and thought that it would be grand if they could flush it out with some urban stuff.
    Or is it just facile artiness which has no great meaning?

  • Roy Lisker says:

    When it comes to the concert stage, Joshua Bell is a master. When it comes to playing in the subways, he’s an incorrigible amateur. With my long experience playing in subways in Sweden, England, France, Boston, San Francisco and New York, I have stories to tell that would turn him pale with terror (well, at least with awe)