Near the first-movement cadenza of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto he was playing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Thursday night, Bell said, he took an up-bow stroke too hard.
The bridge -- which holds the strings but isn't attached to the violin -- moved out of place, making the instrument unplayable.
So he stopped the orchestra, ran to the wings of the Symphony Center, repaired the bridge and came out to a resounding applause.
"This has never happened to me before," said Bell, the Chicago Tribune reports.
"It was sort of like an athlete having his dislocated shoulder put back right," he said.
He said he felt more relaxed after the bridge incident, and his performance may have reflected that, since he received a ferocious applause afterwards, the newspaper said.