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Subject: Re: 'History's Greatest Composer'
From: London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:London Tier <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 6 Mar 2017 20:26:34 -0800
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I basically think that such expostulations as you quote are
silly. Everybody has his own private list of greatest-this and
greatest-that, but nobody else will agree, and so what?

I'd like to see a who-is-the-most-precocious list, and then Mendelssohn
might win hands down.  Nothing that Mozart or Schubert had composed by age
17 comes close in quality to Mendelssohn's Octet (age 16) or Overture to *A
Midsummer Night's Dream* (17).  But you know that they'll get there in the
end.  Do you know Schubert's Overture to *Des Teufels Lustschloss*,
composed when Schubert was 18?  A really amazing work. Or his F major Mass,
which is not much like Schubert so much as Haydn, but is strikingly
talented.



On Tuesday, February 28, 2017, Genevieve Castle Room <
[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 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
> all.)"
>
> https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/
> theres-enough-time-to-change-everything/517209/
>
> ---------------------
>
> 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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