Birthday greetings for Joshua Bell!

December 6, 2007 at 07:50 PM · Joshua Bell 2007 Birthday Board

Replies (39)

December 6, 2007 at 08:44 PM · Mr. Bell is a great violinist. His tone and bow control is one of the best I've ever heard. Although a lot of people think that he is a weak, pretty-boy violinist with no respect for his own musical ideas (I'm NOT criticizing anyone on this forum; I just read a review, or several reviews criticizing his cadenza in the Mendelssohn Concerto), I believe that he is one of the violinists that can attract a crowd of the younger generation with his wit, charm, musical ability, and (I'm taking this from other's opinions), good looks. He is definitely one of the greatest violinists today.

December 6, 2007 at 11:21 PM · his intonation is pretty bad

December 7, 2007 at 12:47 AM · Gee, I can't believe he's turning 40 already! He looks so young still. I can't say he's one of my favorite violinists, but he is certainly an excellent virtuoso and great at attracting younger audiences to classical music. Personally, I don't always agree with how he interprets certain concertos, I enjoy how he plays concert pieces and shorter, lyrical works.

December 7, 2007 at 01:05 AM · Greetings,

I think he has been pegged a sa pretty boy violinist partly because of his image (I suppose he is a pretty boy- not sure what one of thos eis actually....) and partly becvause he doesn`t beat the crap out of the isntrument like some modern players. He`s very much a descendant of the Ysaye tradition though Gingold so he uses a huge range of slides that most otehr players don`t. Very subtle but so many seme to miss this because they are waiting for the loud fireworks. He also has astonsihing abiltiy for subtle nuabce with the bow which few players have. I have not foudn his intonation bad on disc. Live, I suspect he is ratehr inconsistent which might take him out of the realm of Milstein`s definiton of a `great artist` (someone who always plays as near as dammit perfectly) and tends to explain why on a good night nobody can touch him and on a bad night only the young ladies wnat to touch him. Certainly the music world would be a poorer place without him.



December 7, 2007 at 01:56 AM · The two times I've heard him live on tape, I assume they were "live" live, I didn't hear anything I wouldn't want to consistently hear. One was live back to back with Hilary, and Zukerman, which was interesting. That definition of great artist is interesting. Peaks ought to count for something, as well as the average. The pretty boy image, one time I knew a beautiful woman who didn't like the reactions she got sometimes and would threaten to start giving herself bad makeup jobs to stop them :)

December 7, 2007 at 02:43 AM · I've heard him playing live and he is great. Period.

December 7, 2007 at 03:20 AM · I've got to think that if he's inconsistent it means he swings down to 9.5 now and then, and that 9.5 and above is great artist as far as Milstein would be concerned. I figure Milstein would jam with him, don't you think?

December 7, 2007 at 03:25 AM · you`d think so. No argument.

December 7, 2007 at 03:43 AM · My message for the birthday boy:

You go, Josh. You look almost as good as my hubby Robert, who turned 40 in October. ;) I turn 40 in Feb. That said, there aren't many of us our age, baby "bust" generation that we are.

Keep doing what you are doing, which is taking risks and trying new things. I, for one, am cheering for someone who continues to hone his artistry and advocate for music among so many different audiences.

I'm happy to write the Josh Bell interview any time, maybe the next time you have a new project you want to tell the world about.

Laurie "still in my 30s for about 10 more minutes" Niles

By the way everyone we put the interviews on a special page that Robert made today.

December 7, 2007 at 05:47 AM · How funny - My husband turns 40 on Sunday too...and I used to have a picture of Joshua Bell on my ceiling above my bed when I was in middle school...Dreams really do come true...

December 7, 2007 at 06:38 AM · I didn't really intend for this to turn into a discussion of Joshua Bell's artistry, but I should have known better...this is, after all. :)

I like what Jim said about how a musician's peaks should matter too in one's judgment. I have heard Josh live in concert around eighteen times, so I have a pretty good sample size. I agree that his "average" in terms of technique and intonation is probably below most of his contemporaries. But when he's on, he is ON. I'm not a person who tends to be physically affected by music, but I've been reduced to tears, speechlessness, and physical trembling after some of Josh's performances.

This is why I'm so devoted to Joshua Bell: because I know he's capable of delivering a performance that affects me deep in my soul like nothing else, even if I only get it in one out of every five concerts. I like many other violinists, but Joshua Bell will always be number one in my mind until I have a similar experience with someone else.

December 7, 2007 at 07:49 AM · What? Age 40? He still has a glimmer of a teenager and maybe a touch of baby fat (at least from my perspective in row 6).

Definitely one of the notable performers of our time.

December 7, 2007 at 08:17 AM · Joshua Bell plays really well

If I could I wish I would

Play as well as Joshua Bell

I've never seen him

Only heard him

But I hear he looks great, too

Wish you'd come play in my country

Joshua, Happy Birthday to you!

December 7, 2007 at 07:24 PM · Run around like it's over with as much as you like: you're still 40; you've just begun (kicking and screaming and sticking a towel in your mouth won't help either as you already know); you're hot; plus, we all love you.


December 7, 2007 at 08:44 PM · quiet. You do not know what the h*** you are talking about. I am almost certain, though I haven't heard you play, that your intonation isn't as good as Mr. Bell's. Listen to his Tchaikovsky concerto, the new one. That was recorded live. If that isn't good intonation, than I don't know what is. Don't call another player bad if you can't do as well yourself. If you post a performance of yourself doing Tchaik better than that, I'll reconsider my opinion.

December 7, 2007 at 10:24 PM · Good gravy! It is about that time, isn't it? Well, happy birthday man.

For anyone who's interested - Oprah is going to Colleen's school tomorrow. I don't expect anything to happen, but you never know. :)

PS - I'm liking the interview idea, Laurie.

December 7, 2007 at 10:43 PM · Just to be clear...when I wrote "Post your birthday greetings here", I meant on his birthday guestbook which his fans set up, which I linked to in the original post. I don't think he's going to read anything posted here in the thread.

Thanks to everyone who's already participated!

December 7, 2007 at 10:45 PM · Karin, I've totally got you pegged! I thought, 'I bet Karin gets annoyed if I post this on here. Let's see... ' And HA! ;) I would feel bad just writing "Happy Birthday" on there because everyone else has such nice things to say, but I'll do it just for you.

December 7, 2007 at 10:53 PM · Ha ha, Syd. :) You didn't annoy me, though, it just occurred to me that I might not have been clear in my original article since I just included a link and didn't type anything.

December 8, 2007 at 03:03 AM · Happy Birthday Joshua!

December 8, 2007 at 03:23 AM · Happy Birthday! I hope I look as young when I'm 40!

December 8, 2007 at 03:59 AM · James Ehnes's intonation is far better than Bell's, and he is also a much better musician.

December 8, 2007 at 04:15 AM · Maybe so but it is Josh's birthday, not James' :-p

December 8, 2007 at 01:19 PM · I agree Ehnes is great, but they both have distinctly different styles, so you cannot say that one is a better musician. I, being a violin geek, love James Ehnes's playing. But, if you ask someone on the street who he is, they will most likely shake their heads, when, if you ask about Bell, they might recognize him.

Plus, how come Bell is so famous today if his intonation is so bad? Think about that for me.

December 8, 2007 at 04:01 PM · Well put, Brian, and Jonathan.

I followed a link from Jeremy Denk's website to Josh's new website pic. (Publicity and/or cover photo for his new CD?) Boy, what eye candy. Yup, those looks impress the girls. There it is, and the marketers are making use of that.

I've seen him perform live three times and two of those times were exceptional. And I love, just love, his Sibelius recording. Have listened to 6 or 7 other recordings since, masters and contemporaries alike, and I keep going back to Josh and Esa Pekka's recording.

Off I go to post a wish on Karin's link now. Thanks, Karin! (Hey, what did you think of that new photo of his, in the blue shirt and the bedroom eyes? Whew!)

December 8, 2007 at 07:23 PM · "But, if you ask someone on the street who he is, they will most likely shake their heads, when, if you ask about Bell, they might recognize him."

It's a shame how people like Bell are so famous, yet when you ask people about like Szeryng or Ferras, two infinitely superior violinists, they wouldn't know

"Plus, how come Bell is so famous today if his intonation is so bad? Think about that for me."

It's all marketing his looks. look at the post above mine for an example.

December 8, 2007 at 07:52 PM · Well, obviously an artist's worth is not measured by how many average Joes--or even other musicians--know who he is. For example, how many of you know offhand who Károly Schranz is? He's perhaps the greatest violinist I've ever heard...but not exactly a household name.

Off-topic comments aside, I'm not the biggest fan of Josh Bell either but can't we be nice on THIS thread? Just wish him a happy birthday....

December 8, 2007 at 08:33 PM · I know who Karoly Schranz is...

(Insert smiley face here)

December 8, 2007 at 08:43 PM · Aha, Chris! But that is where you're (mostly) wrong!

Henryk and Christian both lived in a different time period, where the style was COMPLETELY different. Back then, most violinists didn't move much, and focused more on musicality than notes, although they still did focus on the notes a lot. Today's generation focuses on notes a LOT more, and now we have a more "Bright" style of playing for soloists, unlike the last generation's "Darker" style. Mr. Bell has adapted his technique for this new style. Although, in his earlier recordings, he still hasn't found his voice, he has now matured enough to become one of the greatest and most unique players of this era.

I will partially agree with you on the looks. I do not think that Mr. Bell has become one of the greatest violinists because his looks, as you very shallow-mindedly think. I believe he has turned on lots of the hip-hop/rap/rock generation to classical music with his looks. If someone was a really good looking person, but a crappy violinist, like you think Mr. Bell is, than he would not gain any fame whatsoever. Are you suggesting that all the men that gave him raving reviews for his "sparkling tone" and "amazing stage presence" are gay?

December 8, 2007 at 10:07 PM · I'm not getting into the argument here, I just wanted to say this:

Mara, Karoly Schranz is amazing :-D I get to hear them play tomorrow!!

December 8, 2007 at 10:24 PM · Great, Josh! I'm happy for you! Karoly is a great player, and you can tell that he loves music.

December 9, 2007 at 02:10 AM · Ahh, in Boston? Are you going to get to hear their Bartok 5? They played that here and I STILL have not stopped drooling....the part where they all have to play unison ricochet was PERFECT, and every string player in the audience was just like "holy $#!^!"

December 9, 2007 at 02:29 AM · >I believe he has turned on lots of the hip-hop/rap/rock generation to classical music with his looks. If someone was a really good looking person, but a crappy violinist, (...) he would not gain any fame whatsoever.


But Chris, I'll have you know I've got tix to see James Ehnes in February and I am very very much looking forward to it b/c I have heard, as well, that he is one of the best violinists around today.

December 9, 2007 at 05:41 PM · I think Joshua Bell is so wonderful, I wouldn't even mind being stranded on a desert island with him.

Happy Birthday!

December 9, 2007 at 06:34 PM · Awwwwwww....

He is a really nice guy. My friend told me a completely false story about him. Apparently Bell was banned from college dorms because he slept with too many girls there. AHAAHAAAHAAHAHAH not true.

December 9, 2007 at 10:48 PM · suppose he had woken up...

December 9, 2007 at 11:19 PM · AHAHAHAHAHAA!!!!!

December 11, 2007 at 05:53 AM · Mara, I'm still drooling as well from their Bartok. They are such amazing musicians...but Karoly is probably my favorite. I got to have some coachings with him last summer and he demonstrated one of the great second violin solos in the 3rd Bartok quartet. He only wanted to show us a little, but he got carried away and ended up playing the whole solo. Its about a minute long. None of us could talk about anything else for the rest of the day.

December 11, 2007 at 03:02 PM · Ahhh, he has that effect on me as well...I watched him give about four masterclasses last week (thought I'd died and gone to heaven) and among the works he coached was the Kodaly Serenade--he kept demonstrating things and getting carried away, like you said, and it was just spectacular. I don't know when I've ever met a more completely musical human being.

Ugh, Karin, sorry--we just hijacked your Josh Bell Birthday Thread into the Károly Schranz Appreciation Thread....

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