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Subject: 'History's Greatest Composer'
From: Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:21:50 -0500

text/plain (47 lines)

Yale computer science professor David Gelernter asks 'Who is history’s
greatest composer?'

>"Who is history’s greatest composer? (I encourage my students to ask this
sort of wildly unpopular question because it sharpens one’s critical
understanding, and forces one to make choices.) The composer is Franz
Schubert; he died at 31, and none of his three competitors had finished
masterpieces to compare with his at 31. His three opus posthumous sonatas
are among the deepest achievements in art. The slow movements of the last
two might be the most beautiful in all of music—in competition only with
Mozart’s Requiem and the last movement of Beethoven’s op 111 sonata. And
what if Schubert’s competitors had each died at 31? Beethoven had finished
his stupendous C minor piano concerto, op. 37, and several perfect piano
sonatas; but his great work was yet to come. Bach had finished Herz und
Mund und Tat und Leben, one of his finest cantatas and his single biggest
hit (it includes “Jesus Joy of man’s desiring”); but his greatest music all
came later. Mozart is the toughest competitor, because he finished Figaro
at 30—Figaro, greatest of his operas, greatest of all operas, the best
answer in music (better even than Don Giovanni) to the hardest of all
musical problems--how to come to an end. But listen carefully once more to
the three sonatas and Schubert wins. (Which doesn’t change the underlying
truth, that Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, his op 110 and 111 sonatas, his
string quartet in C# minor and the Gross Fuge are the greatest music of


Sheer inanity..... Professor Gelernter wants to sharpen his students'
critical understanding by forcing them to make absurd choices, and has a
pre-packaged answer to boot.

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