Joshua Bell, the mop-topped musician who plays the $4 million “Jewish” Stradivarius previously owned by Israeli Philharmonic founder Bronislaw Huberman, is perhaps the world’s most recognized violinist. His playing to a naked Greta Scacchi in the movie “Red Violin” garnered the film an Oscar for best score. His violin solos have also been featured in “Angels and Demons,” “Ladies in Lavender,” “Defiance,” and Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s soon-to-be-released “Flowers of War,” starring Christian Bale.
Bell, age 44, is known for his athletic style of playing. He is currently in the middle of a 15-city U.S. tour, which included an April 16 performance at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center as music director of the renowned Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, one of the world’s most celebrated chamber orchestras. After his performance in Philadelphia, where he performed Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, the audience, which included many young musicians, stood in line for more than an hour to say hello and have him autograph CDs and programs. He talked to The Arty Semite about what he’s got on his iPod, playing vs. conducting, and almost losing a $4 million violin.
Laura Goldman: How does it feel to replace Sir Neville Marriner as music director of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields?