Joshua Bell

Joshua BellThe violinist's beautiful tone and photogenic appearance made him a classical superstar in the 2000s.

Born: December 6, 1967, in Bloomington, Indiana

Career highlights

  • 1982: Bell debuts with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ricardo Muti.
  • 1995: Bell is violin soloist in John Corigliano's score for the film The Red Violin. Corigliano later arranges the music as a concerto for him.
  • 1999: He appears as himself in film Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep.
  • 2002: He buys the "Gibson ex Huberman" Stradivarius violin, as his concertizing instrument. The next year, his first recording with the instrument, Romance of the Violin sells more than five million copies.
  • 2005: He is inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame
  • 2007: He wins the Avery Fisher Prize; is appointed as a senior lecturer to the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University.
  • 2009: He performs at the White House for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
  • 2011: He is named music director of the Orchestra of St. Martin in the Fields.

Fun Facts


  • Joshua Bell - Bruch violin concerto
    The sporting life: Bell's normal childhood included computer games and sports, mainly tennis and bowling. The 10-year-old Bell managed to be among the top finishers in a national tennis tournament, though he had never taken a lesson.
  • The busking experiment: In 2007, Bell famously agreed to be part of an experiment. Donning ordinary street clothes, Bell went into a Washington D.C. subway and played a short set, as morning rush-hour riders raced past him, hardly noticing the beautiful music. Not surprising, actually, but the experiment and the resulting Washington Post article won a Pulitzer Prize.
  • The Camera Loves Him, Part I: Bell was the subject of a 1993 BBC Omnibus documentary, has been the star of five Lincoln Center Presents broadcasts, a Great Performances production, A&E Biography, and has appeared on a number of general interest T.V. shows, such as the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Tavis Smiley, and even Sesame Street. He's been the subject of profiles in the New York Times and other national publications. In 2000, he was one of the first classical artists to make a VH1 video.
  • The Camera Loves Him, Part II: Bell was profiled in People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in 2000.

SFCV Articles Featuring Joshua Bell

February 21, 2010

Braved by Bell

Some guys have all the luck — or at least it seems that way with Joshua Bell. In the last decade, the American violinist has become one of the most successful artists in classical music history, selling millions of CDs and stacking up awards like so many Legos. With his boyish good looks, it would be easy to dismiss him as the industry’s most marketable commodity. Yet his meteoric rise isn’t all hype: Sunday afternoon at Zellerbach Hall, a few thousand fans braved the wet weather to hear him in a duo recital presented by Cal Performances, and they didn’t go away disappointed.

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October 21, 2010

Conlon, Bell, Rarities Rule

James Conlon is one of the finest conductors around, and he is also a maverick presenter of unusual programs. And so it was expected that he would bring something different to his current appearances with the San Francisco Symphony (which he first led 32 years ago), and he did not disappoint.

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February 26, 2008

Dazzling but Aloof

Even Cal Performances' starrier guests don't routinely sell out Zellerbach Hall. But more than two decades into his high-profile career, Joshua Bell's name still deservedly wields an uncommon pull, and it was to a capacity audience that he and pianist Jeremy Denk played on Sunday afternoon.

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