Beethoven was sui generis. A lot of composers tried to use him as a starting off point -- each in a different way -- but none successful in doing anything that wasn't intrinsic to himself. Brahms was certainly more of a strict classicist than most of his contemporaries. Berlioz and Wagner both worshipped Beethoven but took their music in wildly contrary directions (Liszt too); Schumann was incapable of strict Beethovenian motivic development; Mahler could do nothiing but develop albeit in a more free-form way; Schubert's late works approached Beethoven's late spirituality most closely; Bruckner was good at carving movements out of blocks of granite, like the first movement of B's Ninth . . . basically, almost every mid-nineteenth century composer thought he was taking up where Beethoven left off -- but none was.