We almost entirely agree here. The irony is I've spent much of my life writing criticism (mostly film, but some music/literature) for various websites and I focused primarily on objective analysis. I've spent much of life studying the arts, even owning multiple textbooks on film, music, and poetry. It's just that, try as I might, I never could find any unifying feature that made every work I felt was great great. That lead me to thinking more about just how my own subjectivity influenced that perception, especially with works that hit me on a profound level, which also kickstarted my thinking about how different subjectivities could interact with different art in different ways.All the rancor aside, I would agree. I do not pretend to know and be able to pinpoint every single thing that makes Bach great to me and to millions of others, or Handel or Mozart or Beethoven or the Rolling Stones for that matter. I don't think even experts in music theory can do such. They may be able to identify and express some things with a little more precision. But the problem I have with the debate is that there seems to be this tendency among, shall we say, card-carrying subjectivists if someone says "Bach is the greatest composer ever". Or Beethoven or Wagner or whoever. I think such hierarchies are completely natural even if I may not agree with some else's ranking. Then we get the sermons about how there really is no good, better, best, worst. And that doesn't resolve or explain anything. Nor does the pointless Strange Magic type of trollish badgering for "proof". I don't need any proof, nor have I ever asked for proof in support of someone else's preferences.
I agree about hierarchies being natural and inevitable, I just get skittish when some people (not all) move from accepting such hierarchies as subjective phenomenon to thinking they're objective, which often leads to very negative opinions and views on people who disagree. As long as one isn't doing that then there's no problem. Though I do share SM's skepticism when it comes to certain claims on a variety of issues, music and otherwise.