Inevitably, there are those who will come back and say (and I will save them the trouble) that the merits of craftsmanship are a subjective construct. But, as always, they will ignore or dismiss the fact that the CP era, over decades and centuries laid the groundwork for what is considered excellence in composing (that music).In regards to the topic, it makes no difference that judgments about the sound quality of a musical piece are opinions and not facts.
In science, there are hard, tangible, objective methods scientists use to identify and quantify creativity, imagination, and intelligence in subjects. Musical craftmanship is no exception. It is not necessary to even hear a single note to determine whether a musical piece was put together intelligently or creatively. The audible enjoyment factor is ancillary to its merits that are measurable.
My uncle who is an engineer often speaks of being able to tell good design from poor design in engineering. There are objective ways of identifying it. He never refers to anyone’s opinion on what it looks like. The construction of music is no different. Whether you like how it sounds or not, we can identify the merits of its craftmanship through objective means.
Originality, ingenuity and other signs of skill that indicate the innate musical intelligence of a Beethoven that managed to attract such a broad audience of listeners and experts during the early, mid, latter CP period and to this day demands recognition. When I watch live performances of his concertos and symphonies, I am in awe at how he came up with such things as the originality of the use of the woodwinds in concert with the strings without reminding of predecessor composers. No composer has quite matched the extent of originality across the broad categories of sonatas, trios, quartets, concertos and symphonies. And some want to dismiss it as subjective polling popularity?