Joshua Bell, Classical Bagboy

Today’s Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal featured Joshua Bell as the subject of the “What’s In Your Bag?” column. Mr. Bell, noted virtuoso and social experimenter with a far more aurally pleasing method than Dr. Stanley Milgram, opened his “bag” (can one classify something that carries a Stradivarius the same as a receptacle that brings home cat food from Trader Joe’s? Perhaps “valise extraordinaire” would be more fitting, though far less wieldy. “Help! Thief! Someone has stolen my valise extraordinaire that has a Stradivarius in it! Please return it to Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo!”) for the Journal, and it’s chock full of chewy details. Without further undue ado, enjoy:

Bags and cases are for sundries and valuables alike. In his, Joshua Bell carries nail clippers, gum and his 300-year-old Stradivarius.

“It is the one bag that’s with me all the time,” says the virtuoso violinist. “So it’s become a little like my locker in high school. My assistant regularly goes into it and finds candy bars.”

Mr. Bell, 45, says he had his violin case custom-made with canvas outer zipped pockets that he uses as a “purse section” for personal items. The case was made by Dimitri Musafia, whose company has made violin and viola cases for concert artists for 30 years in Cremona, Italy, the same town where Antonio Stradivari worked. In addition to compartments for resin, spare strings and a chin-rest tightening tool, Musafia cases include an inner suspension system to protect the violin and a hygrometer to measure humidity.

Mr. Bells says he had one of the custom-made pockets specially sized. “I told them it was for music, but it was for my iPad,” he says. He also carries a Samsung Galaxy Note phone and two pairs of Bowers & Wilkins ear buds. (He often loses them.)

These gadgets sit outside the hard case for his violin (famous, in part, for being stolen from Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman), for which Mr. Bell paid nearly $4 million in 2001. There are also spaces for four bows—three from his collection and an empty slot in case he comes across one he wants to try.

One large outer pocket holds items for after-concert forays to greet fans. There is a T-shirt to change into, Bulgari Man cologne and chewing gum. Bell, who says he enjoys greeting people, sometimes shakes hands with as many as 400 at an event, so he also keeps Purell hand sanitizer in his bag.

If Mr. Bell were to design his next bag, he says, it would have a built-in metronome, a detachable laptop compartment and improved pockets to keep his personal items from “jingling around.”

Stolen?? Fascinating.

The bag:


And the bag man:


And the bag man fiddling some Bach (as opposed to feet). He plays and discusses the unrivaled Chaconne.


Frasier Crane, meet Maurice Ravel

Who can tell what lurks in the hearts and minds of rhythm sections? Here we get a sneak peek at their thought process during Monsieur Watchmaker’s disavowed Boléro.

I personally love the comment at 14:30. I’m pretty sure that’s the brassy, magnificent section I mentioned!

I hear this is true.

[This comes to us by way of Kurt Nemes, our blog’s first official non-mandatory follower!]

Lest we all look down the aquiline slope of our various probosces at percussionists, however, I’ll note that according to Frasier Crane, the percussion section is the engine of the orchestra , driving it forward (skip to 1:45, though the whole clip is worth a watch!). Naturally, Niles begs to differ.