Joshua Bell made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1985 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. He has since performed with almost all of the world's major orchestras and conductors. As well as the standard concerto repertoire, Bell has performed new works — Nicholas Maw's violin concerto is dedicated to him, the recording of which won Bell a Grammy and gave the world premiere of the work in 1993. He performed the solo part on John Corigliano's Oscar-winning soundtrack for the film The Red Violin and was also featured in Ladies in Lavender. Bell also made an appearance in the movie Music of the Heart, a story about the power of music, with other notable violinists.
Bell's instrument is a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin called the Gibson ex Huberman, which was made in 1713 during what is known as Antonio Stradivari's "Golden Era." This violin had been stolen twice from the previous owner, Bronis?aw Huberman; the last time the thief confessed to the act on his deathbed. Bell had held and played the violin, and its owner at the time jokingly told Bell the violin could be his for four million dollars. Shortly thereafter, by chance, Bell came across the violin again and discovered it was about to be sold to a German industrialist to become part of a collection. According to the Joshua Bell website (http://joshuabell.com), Bell "was practically in tears." Bell then reportedly sold his current Stradivarius, the Tom Taylor, for a little more than two million dollars and made the purchase of the Gibson ex Huberman for a little under the four million dollar asking price. His first recording made with the Gibson ex Huberman was Romance of the Violin (under Sony Classical) in 2003. It sold more than 5,000,000 copies and remained at the top of classical music charts for 54 weeks. Joshua Bell's most recent CD is called Vivaldi: The Four Seasons and was released near the end of summer in 2008. It features The Four Seasons, four concerti written by the baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi.
Bell is an artistic partner for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (starting in the 2004–2005 season) and a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He also serves on the artists selection committee for the Kennedy Center Honors and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bell's long time manager Edna Landau, of IMG Artists, retired this fall. She had been working with Bell since his teenage years and was the manager of Itzhak Perlman, Petr Matejak, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, and Murray Perahia.
In a curious experiment initiated by Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten, Bell donned a baseball cap and played as an incognito street busker at the Metro subway station L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 2007. The experiment was videotaped on hidden camera; among 1,097 people who passed by, only seven stopped to listen to him, and only one recognized him. For his nearly 45-minute performance, Bell collected $32.17 from 27 passersby (excluding $20 from the passerby who recognized him). Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for his article on the experiment.
Bell was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize on April 10, 2007, at Lincoln Center in New York City. The prize is given once every few years to classical instrumentalists for outstanding achievement. On May 3, 2007, the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music announced that Bell had joined the faculty as a senior lecturer.
Bell collaborated with film composer Hans Zimmer by providing violin solos for the soundtrack for the 2009 film, Angels and Demons, based on Dan Brown's 2000 novel of the same name.