I do not exactly imagine my listening without Beethoven and Brahms but it is very interesting view. It is significant, I think, that 19 century German/Austrian were so immersed in studying counterpoint. Beethoven certainly, prodded by Haydn, Brahms big time. I just wonder if you can elaborate more on what do you mean by after and later in the sentence" "Nothing that came after works for me except in relation to the music that came earlier"?There is so much Romantic and Modernist music that I love and couldn't be without. I probably spend more of my time listening to it than I do Classical and Baroque music. But, even given this, if I had to choose to lose the music before or after, say, 1800 I would choose to lose the music after 1800. Nothing that came after works for me except in relation to the music that came earlier. I reject the idea that music grows in profundity or power as composers learn from those who came before them.