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Thread: Classical Music Critic on "Who is the greatest composer?"

  1. #61
    Senior Member Vaneyes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    Several responders have now opined that the auction house or the polling booth, sensu lato, can tell us about greatness, quality, etc., in the arts, or at least help us select what to "value" the more and the less? I am impressed with this argument: Let the bidding begin! I have long advocated for something like this in selecting candidates for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: When did Captain Beefheart move more units than Journey? Draw bigger audiences? Yet Beefheart is in and Journey is out (I love Journey).

    As I recall, Gramophone polling almost always shows Rach 2 as Número Uno. Unless we define group subjectivity as a form of objectivity, then it's still subjectivity, group or no. Yes?
    Polls are cheese, but that's okay, it keeps 'em off the streets.

    Re popularity, why not just go to ArkivMusic and see how many recordings there are for works. Atleast, that "poll", has some longevity. Cheers 'n cheese!

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  3. #62
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    I have a feeling that, actually, we all agree......

    Except for those who don't.

  4. #63
    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polyphemus View Post
    That's why they call it personal choice. The difference between 'subjectivity' and 'objectivity' is akin to the difference between sanity and insanity.
    Except that if the effect that causes the popularity of the Rach is at the level of brain function, there is no choice or taste involved.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    at the end of the day, all we can do is assert, with proof, that more people like A than B.
    And the "with proof" (which should be "with evidence") is all. It's what we set out to establish - that there is a reason why this music is regarded as "better" than that - because it causes more neurons to fire in a particular way, stimulating hormones, achieving a particular effect.

    You now have to connect this to the purpose of the piece/composer. If Rach wants to write a piece that moves people in the way that it evidently does, then each time he succeeds better than the last, he has written a "better" piece. This is why, returning to my earlier proposition, I believe criteria could be established to make valid comparisons within narrow confines. Not all composers want to move people in the same way; they have a different purpose, so you'd need different criteria.
    "There is no 'greatest', but there is 'better'."

  5. #64
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    If "More people prefer" is to be synonymous with "better", and "Most people like" is to be synonymous with "best", then you are again correct. But after having established this profound truth, what do we do with it? Which is better, Eroica or Ninth? Vanilla or Chocolate? Eroica for me; sometimes vanilla, sometimes chocolate.
    Last edited by Strange Magic; Oct-07-2015 at 13:35.

  6. #65
    Senior Member MacLeod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange Magic View Post
    If "More people prefer" is to be synonymous with "better", and "Most people like" is to be synonymous with "best", then you are again correct.
    Not what I said. I asked what caused the phenomenon you reported that Rach always come top in popularity polls. You offered an explanation. I accepted your explanation for the purposes of exploring an example of 'criteria'. If there is a neurophysiological reason why Rach comes top, then it's not a matter of "preference" or "like" but an unavoidable fact. This is not "popularity as a proxy for greatness" by the back door.
    "There is no 'greatest', but there is 'better'."

  7. #66
    Senior Member Strange Magic's Avatar
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    This horse is dead, so I've put my whip away.

  8. #67
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    The question as such is very difficult to answer and it might even be impossible. And that is simply due to the fact that everyone of us will have their own different opinion

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  10. #68
    Senior Member Florestan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LiBardugo View Post
    The question as such is very difficult to answer and it might even be impossible. And that is simply due to the fact that everyone of us will have their own different opinion
    Exactly. There is no greatest composer in an absolute sense, but many great composers, some greater than others. We don't need to sort them out, but to listen to them as we please. Each of us will have personal favorites and it won't matter if my favorite or someone else's favorite is greatest, so long as we enjoy what we listen to.
    Last edited by Florestan; Feb-12-2017 at 14:58.
    The junk merchant doesn't sell his product to the consumer, he sells the consumer to his product. He does not improve and simplify his merchandise. He degrades and simplifies the client.

    William S. Burroughs

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  12. #69
    Senior Member Gabriel Ortiz's Avatar
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    I would say the Tchaikovsky's 6th symphiny is a fantastic work of art, and is fantastic such that I would say that Beethoven's 9th is also a fantastic work of art. It would be simple and pretentious to accuse one of being "lesser" than the other.

    To say Scarlattis keyblard sonatas are better than Tristun un Isolde is like comparing apples to oranges!

    The minority of people who say you can prestige a composer would be bluntly false, as many other people before me suggested.


    Edit: Apologies in advance for necroing this discussion.
    Last edited by Gabriel Ortiz; Apr-17-2017 at 14:22.

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  14. #70
    Senior Member Vaneyes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blancrocher View Post
    Careful, Vaneyes, or "Certified Perfect Recording" may be in her sights next!

    In re-reading this thread, thank you Blanc. I'd plumb forgotten about my CPR (Certified Perfect Recording) rating.

    Maybe I can pull it out of mothballs and use it on today's generation. Yup, a generation is only about 4 years these days.



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