Saturday, February 12, 2011

Noted Violinist Fails to Attract Street Audience

November 28, 1930
Associated Press

Artist Who “Packed them In” with his $40,000 Strad Plays in Disguise and Collects $1.27.

BOSTON, Nov. 27

The other night Jacques Gordon, noted Chicago violinist, “Packed them in” at a local concert hall to hear him perform on his 200-year-old Stradivarius violin, valued at $40,000, and be jeweled audiences held their breath lest they miss a single note.

Today, disguised as an old man, Gordon took this same violin and played on the street corners of Boston. Many of those in the same social circle as those who had paid top prices to hear him indoors, walked by “the little old man” without second thought.

His first stand, near one of Boston’ s fashionable churches, brought him a few pennies.

“He may be hungry, and besides, it’s Thanksgiving,” one woman said as she sent her little daughter over to the curbing with a quarter.

Playing the same selections that his indoor audiences heard “the little old man” finally landed in Scollay Square, where one-armed lunchrooms take the places of fashionable churches and much of the feminine jewelry would not interest an appraiser.

First a few bootblacks sidled up. The some former actors who were in quiet search of a free Thanksgiving dinner, somewhere. And the old men who couldn’t drip in any pennies for the simple reason they had none.

But all of them seemed to know music when they hear it and appreciated it.

“Know Your Music.”

“Sorry I can’t help out but you sure know your music,” one of the Scollay Square audience ventured. And another vouchsafed the opinion that “you ought to give lessons.”

A Newspaper critic passed, cocked his ear and started back. But his fair companion was of another mind, so he continued on his way.

Then a few snowflakes began to fall. The concert was over. The “old man” seemed to get enjoyment out of playing to his nondescript crowd, but snow and a valuable Strad do not mix.

Back in his hotel, Gordon counted out $1.27 as Boston’s contribution to his day’s work. He turned it over to a charitable society.

NB: Here's a photo to prove it! Since the photo is from June, 1930, his concert in Scollay Square was obviously not Gordon's first time out. The linked-to photo (now property of Getty Images) was taken on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, and appeared in the the Olean Herald. He made $5.61 that day.

1 comment:

marjorie Kransberg-Talvi said...

It's all packaging and hype. I think many of us have gone through similar situations. In my former life, I played on stage for appreciative audiences every month. They'd gush backstage and tell me "how beautiful!". But I know, if I stood outside the downtown concert hall and performed outdoors, nobody would give a rip. Oh, I might earn a couple of bucks—enough for a Starbucks short single latte, but that's it.

What does Rodney Dangerfield say? We don't get any respect!