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If everything is dependent on my own perception of it, I wouldn't need ever to listen to Bach or Mozart to get my doses of "beauty" or "greatness". I could simply create it all myself.
Statements about aesthetic value are normally presented and understood as conditional propositions: If one accepts that certain qualities and principles are the basis of aesthetic value in musical works (of a certain style, era, etc.), then here is an objective argument for the existence of such qualities and the successful fulfillment of those principles in a given work. Obviously, if one doesn't accept the values and principles on which the argument is premised, then one won't accept the conclusions. ... It doesn't ultimately come down to opinion, it comes down to more or less objectively verifiable claims made within a system of shared values, with the understanding that the values and the claims are always subject to challenge.
"On the other hand, for the French, Mozart was certainly not 'one of us' from a national point of view. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, before Berlioz's time, some influential critics - for instance, Julien-Louis Geoffroy - rejected Mozart as a foreigner, considering his music 'scholastic', stressing his use of harmony over melody, and the dominance of the orchestra over singing in the operas - all these were considered negative features of 'Germanic' music."

-Groups of people who did not think highly of Mozart's style have existed in the past. Just cause majority of them are dead now, it doesn't mean they were "objectively wrong". If "greatness" changes with time, how can be "absolute"? At certain points in history, they weren't just a "minority", but a dominant group, and it's probably how Una cosa rara eclipsed Le Nozze di Figaro in popularity back then.
-How much of Mozart's traits is a result of "different style" and how much is a result of "superior quality" is, still to this day, largely a matter of subjective opinion and perception. Things can be and have qualities to be popular. "Greatness" is something fans use to frame and attribute to things they love and want to glorify. If something is to be considered unquestionably "great" just cause it has a lot of fans; it would be "tyranny of the majority".
 

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What is it about that work that triggers that effect as opposed to Salieri's Falstaff?
I still wonder; all those traits of Mozart Geoffroy described, for instance, —if Mozart had none of them— how much would we have cared for his music? Is it the "style" of Mozart's music that ultimately appeals to us, or is it the "quality"? How do we know for sure? "I didn't see the merits of X's music...
Speaking of chromaticism, there is this pattern; when asked what makes Mozart great, some people will say; "his richness of chromatic harmony and fluidity of vocal writing, which set him apart from all his contemporaries" [1]. Other people will say; "I dunno. Don't ask me difficult questions like that. I just like his music, and who can blame me for it" [2]. To me, both of these groups (1, 2) are suspicious of relying on "received wisdom".
For example, look at the style of the "S'altro che lacrime" from Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito, and then that of the "Quel ruscelleto" from Haydn's Endimione (or the "Quel viso adorato" from his Andromeda e Perseo) side by side. Isn't it disturbing the former artist is always ranked at around the 1st~3rd places, while the latter artist never appears in any rankings? What if we had been consistently informed from childhood about this "paradox", would things have been the same? -I'm just asking.

How can we prove Mozart's "greatness" is not a result of the amount of his "exposure" to the public? How do we know for sure the kind of chromatic harmony and vocal writing Mozart employs, for instance, proves his music has "depth" intrinsically, compared to his contemporaries? (Isn't it rather something "creamy"?) People will quote the "purple prose writing" the "experts" have written about him in admiration, which doesn't really prove anything except the fact that they're under the influence of "received wisdom" or "personal opinion". I'm not trying to argue any of the artists represented in the rankings in this thread are overrated or underrated. I'm just discussing the inherent limitations of such methods of evaluation.
Aren't these "appeal to authority", "appeal to popularity" fallacies? Isn't it more reasonable to think there can be various factors other than "traits/qualities of artistic work" that ultimately decide who/what get remembered and who/what don't?
Let's say there was a composer A, whose music had not been distributed widely in his lifetime because he didn't want it printed or published, and it had been "misattributed" to various other composers up until the end of the 20th century. How could "professional critics/academics" during most of the 20th century have had an accurate view of his "greatness"?
(Isn't it a little disturbing to) think of Echberg's writings about the "canon", which I posted earlier, in relation to this.
Again, I'm not trying to argue any of the composers mentioned in this thread are overrated or underrated, or that they don't deserve their popularity today, but-
I read that Hummel wrote about 20 operas, which haven't been recorded yet. How can we simply "conclude" he's inherently "inferior" (not just "different") without giving him enough chance?
And isn't this an educated opinion as well?- "One of the many unfortunate legacies of nineteenth-century biographical writing is the excessive focus on the Wunderkind Mozart and the Incomparable Genius Mozart.".
How can we logically prove that the Gloria from Mass K.427 (1782) is inherently superior to the Gloria from Missa sancti Ruperti (1782) regardless of their popularity and people's "preferences" today?
Is "greatness" something that changes with the passing of time? If so, how can it be "absolute"?
 

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Think of it this way; Mozart's opera and oratorio works from years 1766~1775, for instance, are also staples of the repertoire, whereas other composers' works from the same period are collecting dust in library basements. Is the mentality "Because Mozart's music is so perfect, it deserves this level of treatment" in this case —really different from the mentality displayed by the "Mozart partisans" in the thread <Greatest Ever Opera Composer>, for instance (in their argument, "because Mozart is prolific in other genres, and he is so perfect in expression, barely a note is wasted.. bla bla..")? —The "target" is different ("Mozart's contemporaries from the period 1766~1775" in the former case, and "composers from other periods" in the latter case); and other composers of the same period 1766~1775 haven't got a stable "fanbase" grown (due to their lack of exposure in textbooks, concert repertoire, the recording industry, etc), or a "force of advocates" formed, so they become "easy targets".
If anyone uses the sentences below with "Bach" replaced with the name of a composer from 1766~1775, for instance, would the statement become less "valid" objectively?:
I think Mozart frequently resorted to musical cliché with the best of them. Of course they all do to a certain extent.
I love Mozart. But if we knew as little about his life as we know about Bach's, I don't think we would listen to his work in quite the same way.
The thing is "the tragic" has hung over Mozart since his early death, and so (for example) everything in a minor key is of course full of foreboding and desolation...like the 40th symphony.
 

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A certain member in the past made a good point by posting the following in another thread (something for us to think about):

"All of the factors contributing to greatness are interrelated and dependent on each other. For example, one factor mentioned above is the tradition of received wisdom: belief in A's greatness has been passed down from generation to generation, reinforced by music textbooks and concert performances and internet forums, while belief in B's greatness has not. Another factor mentioned above is the test of time: A seems greater than B because the former's music has survived till today while the latter's has not. But these two factors are mutually reinforcing: if music textbooks have chapters on A but not B, then of course the former is going to have a leg up on the latter when it comes to the test of time. Conversely, if A's music is still performed today while B's is not, then of course music textbooks are going to have chapters on the former but not the latter. Likewise, another factor that has been mentioned is influence: A has demonstrably had a lasting influence on later composers, even today, while B has not. This is also inherently connected to the above factors: since A appears in textbooks and is more widely performed than B, then of course he is going to have a greater influence on later composers than B will.

In other words, the concept of greatness is a complex and circular system. By this point in time it's also a self-sustaining one, precisely because of the circularity. After all, this system is basically what we call a canon, and it is the very purpose of a canon to be self-perpetuating. As I wrote about in another thread some years ago, it is difficult to imagine any canonical composer being removed from the cycle and losing their canonical status, and it's difficult to imagine any non-canonical composer being inserted into the cycle and acquiring canonical status. I don't think the canon was always closed, and I don't want to think it is now, but if I'm being honest with myself then I have to think realistically that it is."
 

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I can claim that the stick man is a better work of art than the Mona Lisa and you'd take this claim seriously?
Similarly, a clown has his means of attracting attention and interest from people. Depending on how talented or skilled he is from the perspective of the audience, he can be considered a genius in what he does, ie. his profession. Likewise, music is, in the end, an abstract combination of sounds. Whether or not something is superficially appealing, sentimental, or over the top, or whatnot, belongs in the realm of subjectivity.
 

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My notions of esthetics allows for the maximum of personal valuation of art, but you must admit that I very very rarely voice my negative judgments. For Ingres and kitsch, I make an exception.
And there is this, which you've expressed a number of times on the forum:
Regarding relative merit and quality, I would rather listen to Bob Dylan singing any one of dozens of songs than to any number of empty, long-winded, gaseous late 19th or early 20th century symphonies.
I also wonder, btw, why can't we single out Mahler's symphonies (I'm not necessarily saying they fit the description above) in this thread, with statements like:

"the level of dismissiveness required to refuse to acknowledge the magnitude of artistic achievement in the language of Western music represented by Mahler's symphonies is mind-boggling."

They somehow don't deserve to be put on this pedestal according to the 'objectivitists' here, according to their Universal Laws of Objective Value?
 

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Michael Haydn
"I find it unfair that an "indecent pot-boiler" like Cosi fan tutte survived, while stuff like the "proto-Schubertian" pastoral poem, Die Hochzeit auf der Alm with its later added supplemental music and its "anthem of fidelity" and Die Ährenleserin did not. I find the dramatic structure of this Dzmj8lRLHh0&t=10m43s Dies irae (which integrates the Lacrimosa) more interesting than the one from Mozart's sketchy requiem. I find that none of Mozart's symphonies before No.31 are as "mature" as watch?v=e8ba5g_jF5M , watch?v=v80s4yjSdQM , watch?v=ppTToo8lrMQ " (and so on..)

Of course, I don't hold these opinions, but in a "parallel world" where Mozart's certain contemporaries get as much exposure as him, there could be people holding them. There's no unversal law of objective value that somehow exempts Mozart from these accusations; he isn't somehow on a higher plane than them; that's just an illusion we've created in our minds.
 

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Sure, I can admit that "Rowan Atkinson is a genius actor who showed enormous skill and talent in entertaining his audiences. He surely deserves his popularity and fame. Who can argue that?"
Just cause there are people who go further to find "meaning" in his acting, it doesn't mean I have to sympathize with them; doesn't matter how many there are. Whether or not a piece of music strikes as a "kapellmeister work", for instance, even though the skill melody, harmony, form, or whatnot is outstanding, belongs in the realm of subjectivity.
 

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Well, unless I’m misunderstanding, you seem to be playing both ends against the middle. You say you ‘don’t hold these opinions’, but your final sentence suggests otherwise.
How? I only meant that Mozart doesn't have to be treated as some sort of deity compared to the other composer, who is pretty much forgotten. I don't need to indulge in any idolatry about Mozart to admire his music, or brand anyone as a weirdo going against "objective values" for having a view like:
"I find it unfair that an "indecent pot-boiler" like Cosi fan tutte survived, while stuff like the "proto-Schubertian" pastoral poem, Die Hochzeit auf der Alm with its later added supplemental music and its "anthem of fidelity" and Die Ährenleserin did not. I find the dramatic structure of this Dzmj8lRLHh0&t=10m43s Dies irae (which integrates the Lacrimosa) more interesting than the one from Mozart's sketchy requiem. I find that none of Mozart's symphonies before No.31 are as "mature" as watch?v=e8ba5g_jF5M , watch?v=v80s4yjSdQM , watch?v=ppTToo8lrMQ " (and so on..)
 

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No, we can't agree on that! It resides in the art object understood with respect to certain values and principles manifested in objective and verifiable features of the work. Judgments of aesthetic value are usually perceived as more credibility when the principles and values by which they're understood are known to have been the ones under which the work was constructed.
Which begs the question; do we really listen to a late 18th century work like actual people from the late 18th century Europe (who unquestioningly upheld the values of the Enlightenment in music) would have? If not, why should our "decisions" about its "greatness" be considered to have more "objective credibility" than theirs? (Are we not "cherry-picking" things, by any chance, due to our "limitations in capability to appreciate"?). Fbjim sometimes talked about this, I remember.
And do our "decisions" about music popular in our own little nerdy circles (that comprise like less than 0.01% of the entire population today) even really have significant meaning outside them?
 

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Good question. The artist sets, accepts, and fulfills (or not) the premises on which the work is based. He doesn't, for the most part, invent those premises - they are largely derived from his culture and profession - but he does, if he's not a mere imitator, find new ways of using those premises and of extending and modifying them. He is then admired for both his ability to grasp and exploit an inherited, common expressive language and for his creative originality.
I always respect you for your insight and attitude, Mr. Woodduck. But come on, let's stop kidding our ourselves. (It's starting to get laughable really.) Perpetual aesthetic practices in Mozart, for instance, (even an entire genre) have been disparaged as downright "ridiculous" (no questions asked) on the forum, even though Mozart in his time and "sensibility" would have found them perfectly acceptable. I mean.. suuure.. "inventiveness of melody" and "mastery of form" are still there.. riiiight.. these things triumph over all the supposed "negatives".. since they're sooo great..
Let's talk no more on this; it's getting cringey I feel like getting out of here now, lol.
 

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Criticizing Mozart's contemporaries as "failed Mozarts" is always easy, but on what grounds are we assuming they all tried to achieve the exact same artistic goal? Did Mozart write like this in 1769,
Or like this in 1805?
And since when have we judged all composers based on technicality? (melody, harmony, counterpoint, etc)
 

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Haydn, on hearing selections from Bach's Mass in b-minor, is said to have exclaimed, "We shall never compose anything as great as this!"
I'm not sure he ever made that comment regarding the Bach mass, but there is this:
"Haydn's music library featured works by Bach, including the B minor Mass and at least one set of 24 Preludes and Fugues. He also owned Forkel's biography of Bach. It is doubtful, however, that Haydn admired Bach more than Handel, many of whose works were also in Haydn's library, and who is known to have been specifically praised by Haydn ('He is the master of us all') during his visits to London."
[Painting the Cannon's Roar Music, the Visual Arts and the Rise of an Attentive Public in the Age of Haydn, By Thomas Tolley · 2017 (P. 232)]

On the flipside, we should also consider Berlioz's comments on Bach and Mozart, and Tchaikovsky's on Bach.
I think how these composers were educated from childhood affects their way of thinking in adulthood as well:
[ "A biography of Mozart, read to him (Wagner) when he was only six, had made an undying impression on him. ... The overture to Die Zauberflöte was his earliest musical love: it captured so exactly the note of a fairy tale. He conducted it in Mannheim in 1871 at the concert celebrating the founding of the German Richard Wagner Society. He often reminisced about his childhood impressions when Mozart was played at Wahnfried. He had discovered the C minor Fantasy at his Uncle Adolf's house and had dreamt about it for ages afterwards." (Westernhagen, P. 81~82) ]-
For example, this can be thought of as "indoctrination", depending on how we look at it. To prove the validity of such an "establishment" (ie. "centuries and culture of classical music."), we're essentially relying on historical figures who were also indoctrinated from their youth, as authorities.
Although Haydn's music hasn't been distributed widely (partly due to the composer not wanting his music printed or published in his lifetime), Schubert happened to have exposure to it during his youth as a chorister in Vienna. Of Mozart, Schubert only said "O immortal Mozart! What countless impressions of a brighter, better life hast thou stamped upon our souls!” and that was it, but Haydn was the composer Schubert specifically said he wanted be like; "I thought to myself, 'May thy pure and peaceful spirit hover around me, dear Haydn! If I can ever become like thee, peaceful and guileless, in all matters none on earth has such deep reverence for thee as I have.' (Sad tears fell from my eyes. . . .)"" .
[Franz Schubert: A Biography, By Henry Frost · 2019 (P. 138)]

It maybe difficult to understand from our point of view today, how Schubert could have admired an obscure late 18th century composer over Mozart, but he did. I don't have to indulge in the wishful thinking "All renowned musical minds have worshipped Mozart over all his contemporaries", "Because Mozart was a musical god". I accept that there can be valid differences of opinion, but no such thing as a dogmatic law of objectivity that condemns anyone as a weirdo for holding them.
 

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I've seen no one condemned as a weirdo for having a different opinion
Sure, no one has been explicitly. Although there have been comments like
It's not "wrong", it's just...odd.
But if a person makes up "rules" Mozart must be unquestioningly admired by no matter how much difference of opinion anyone has about him, and doesn't do the same for the forgotten composer Haydn, for example, wouldn't the person still be committing "discrimination in art"? Why would it be that, with Mozart, the inventiveness of melody and mastery of form objectively prove him having unquestionable greatness, but somehow the logic doesn't apply to the other, forgotten composer? He doesn't have it in his divertimento in C, for instance? How?
 

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I am not acknowledging "objective greatness," I'm acknowledging that others, including those I highly respect, feel differently than I do and I'm not seeking to invalidate them.
This is also how I feel we must approach this whole thing; simply let each of us decide for ourselves how much value something has and "just leave it at that". What's the use of forcing other people "acknowledge the objective greatness of something?"; Glorifying (even further) stuff that has been glorified enough already? It would do more harm than good. It's 2022 now and there's still plenty of music by obscure composers we haven't heard yet since it's not recorded or performed. How can we be so sure of their "greatness", if we haven't given them equal amount of chance as the famous composers?
And I believe a large portion of "useless/pointless debates" on certain famous composers, for instance, "Mozart vs. Beethoven" (even though they can be thought to have little to do with each other artistically), has been waged on the premise or the mindset that they're objectively "summits of Western music".
 

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I've seen the light. Michael Haydn is the greatest composer in the history of music.
Why not, as long as the decision is subjective? For example, think of the kind of arguments the "Mozart partisans" resorted to in threads like <Greatest Ever Opera Composer> against Puccini, Verdi, Wagner (which I think were unfair); "he didn't write any bad work", "he was great with all genres", "all he wrote was perfect", as if Mozart was the only one who had these attributes objectively. But what if there was a forgotten contemporary of Mozart who can be just as deserving to be described by these attributes, depending on the subjective evaluation by each of us.
Certainly, looking at this forgotten composer's earliest symphonies such as the 4th, watch?v=w-t1JKs_L3U&t=10m52s (which anticipates Mozart's G minor, K.183 in formal layout and impressions of harmony), I can't see how it can't be subjectively thought that this forgotten composer "didn't write any bad work", as compared with Mozart. Why is it so wrong to say, "whether or not this forgotten composer did some things better than Mozart belongs in the realm of subjectivity"? watch?v=v80s4yjSdQM&t=11m8s. I think it's for our own good. The "tyranny of objectivity" has caused all kinds of harm even without many of us realizing.
Decades of marketing/brainwashing have convinced some of you that Bach can never be equaled. However, to my ears (and many others), Zelanka was every bit the composer Bach was.
 

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. Similarly, in much of CPT music, there are agreed upon standards and tools for communication that the composer employs. The fact that some of these standards are fairly arbitrary (e.g., the avoidance of parallel fifths), does not render the ability to communicate using this 'language' entirely subjective.
So you're judging things by skills of counterpoint? I don't deny things can be and have qualities to be popular, but whether or not they're popular because they're superficially appealing, sentimental, or over the top, or have attractive concepts (eg. "avantgarde for their time", "tortured artists") etc, still depends on how each one of us perceives them. So you're saying everything done in the CP era can be objectively categorized as either "right" or "wrong" answers?- isn't it a rather boring way to view music history?
How "objectively right" was Verdi when he commented in 1878 on the final movement of Beethoven's 9th?; "supported by the authority of Beethoven, they will all shout; "that's the way to do it!""
 

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You've brought the following quote up several times, in a backhandedly disapproving way:
"If you listen to Beethoven or to Mozart, you see they are always the same but if you listen to traffic, you'll see it's always different ..."
Is that objectively correct? Subjectively correct? Incorrect?
I only meant that Cage's philosophy differs vastly from that of the "classical music" composers, and according to my subjective view, composers like him can be categorized separately/differently from "classical music".
 

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My ears don't hear any particular reasons for it, really. Just because you believe theoretically that M. Haydn and Mozart are exactly equivalent doesn't make them so. Were Rostropovich and Glenn Gould only subjectively "better" musicians than I am? I think one thing that doesn't seem to get discussed in these threads very often is the notion of "talent". One person can do something "better" than another.
How can we be so sure of that, especially when everything has not been recorded yet? How much chance have we given to composer we favor less compared to the one we favor more? Are we simply relying on received wisdom in these matters?
one thing to bear in mind is that those 20th century critics and academics aren't authorities to be relied upon unquestioningly, as they obviously did not know everything.
For instance,
1. Donald Tovey said of Beethoven's Missa solemnis: "There is no earlier choral writing that comes so near to recovering some of the lost secrets of the style of Palestrina."

But look at "Missa in Dominica Palmarum" (1794)

2. M. Owen Lee said of the quartet in Mozart's Idomeneo: "Mozart's is by common consent the first great ensemble in opera, a forerunner of the trio in Der Rosenkavalier, the quartet in Rigoletto, the quintet in Die Meistersinger."

But look at the ones from "Die Wahrheit der Natur" (1769) watch?v=KXcBzebwPyA&t=1m50s (at 1:56, the similarity of harmony to the "Colpa è vostra, oh Dei tiranni" from Idomeneo is striking, btw),
and "Die Hochzeit auf der Alm" (1768) watch?v=M2SHuHCivRI&t=15s

3. Charles Rosen said of Mozart's quintet K.174 (in page 281 of his book, "The Classical Style"): "The immediate model for this work is not at all Michael Haydn, as has been thought, much less Boccherini, but ..."

But look at quintet in G (1773) watch?v=9gDxnpn5vb4&t=4m25s, and quintet in C (1773) watch?v=Kw3o9ymn6UU&t=2m50s

So there are 3 obvious errors committed by these famous critics, just from their lack of knowledge of the ouevre of one obscure composer alone. if we're unwilling to "adjust" our views with the discovery of new knowledge, it shows we're nothing more than a 'religious group' worshiping a few selected composers who've been dead for hundreds of years.
If we took tests on the music of the composer we favor less, and on that of the composer we favor more, like the following, for example, how well would we do on the former compared to the latter?:
50 randomly-selected, unidentified 20-second excerpts from 50 different C.P.E. Bach keyboard sonatas (each excerpt extracted from a different work). How many can you identify?
 

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Had Haydn lived around Sibelius’ time he sure would have composed some excellent late romantic and early modernist music.
Sure. Likewise, whether or not this is worse/better, or just different from Mozart belongs in the realm of subjectivity. Some may be reminded of Mozart by it, while others may rather be reminded more of stuff like the Rachmaninoff 2nd symphony, for instance, and may even think that comparing this with Mozart to determine which is objectively superior may be as nonsensical as doing the same with Mozart and Rachmaninoff, for instance:
symphony No.18 in C (ii)
 
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