Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

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RebLem
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Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by RebLem » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:12 pm

Rank Score Item

1. 134 Sergei Rachmaninoff
2. 102 Igor Stravinsky
3. 83 Peter Maxwell Davies
4. 81 Benjamin Britten
5. 76 Dmitri Shostakovich
6. 69 Harrison Birtwistle
7. 67 Ralph Vaughan Williams
8. 61 Alfred Schnittke
9. 56 Leonard Bernstein
10. 54 Richard Strauss
11. 54 Arnold Schoenberg
12. 53 Claude Debussy

A Brit list, obviously. Who else would say Harrison Birtwistle is # 6? And Ravel, Prokofiev and Bartok are nowhere to be found. I'd also add Copland
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Guitarist » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:29 pm

I'd add:

Henze
Penderecki
Tippett
Rochberg
Sessions
Corigliano
Ligeti
Lutoslawski



If I peruse my CD collection, I'm sure I can come up with many more!

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Jack Kelso » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:38 pm

This "list" is just as much a joke as the recent Dozen Piano Composers. Where is Hindemith?

Maybe someone will soon start another crazy one with the "Greatest Song Composers" and begin with:

1. John Lennon
2. Henry Mancini
3. Franz Schubert
4. Robert Franz
5. George Gershwin
6. Michael Jackson, etc, etc,

....and Schumann is again the loser...... :lol:

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Jack Kelso » Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:40 pm

Oh, I almost forgot: Bela Bartok.

Can one consider 20th-century masters without mentioning HIM...?!?

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by absinthe » Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:15 pm

RebLem wrote:Rank Score Item

1. 134 Sergei Rachmaninoff
2. 102 Igor Stravinsky
3. 83 Peter Maxwell Davies
4. 81 Benjamin Britten
5. 76 Dmitri Shostakovich
6. 69 Harrison Birtwistle
7. 67 Ralph Vaughan Williams
8. 61 Alfred Schnittke
9. 56 Leonard Bernstein
10. 54 Richard Strauss
11. 54 Arnold Schoenberg
12. 53 Claude Debussy

A Brit list, obviously. Who else would say Harrison Birtwistle is # 6?[/i] And Ravel, Prokofiev and Bartok are nowhere to be found. I'd also add Copland


Or indeed Peter Maxwell Davies at #3. I mean, yeah, he's a fine composer but how many music lovers could name 3 of his pieces without the obvious symphony #1 symphony #2 and symphony #3.
I doubt many Brits would know he's Master of the Queen's Musick. I mean he hasn't even written anything for the Queen, has he? As we recall from Ms Rice's recent visit, she doesn't even like music.

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by piston » Sun Nov 28, 2010 3:52 pm

I doubt many Brits would know he's Master of the Queen's Musick. I mean he hasn't even written anything for the Queen, has he? As we recall from Ms Rice's recent visit, she doesn't even like music.
He'll be composing music for the forthcoming royal wedding.

I see from the scores that not many people actually vote for these rankings. Where do they get to vote? At the Royal Academy of Music?!

One would first have to clearly explain the cultural parameters of the "20th century." Technically, numerous elder members of the Late Romantic period produced a lot of music during the first two or three decades of that century.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Seán » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:36 pm

RebLem wrote:Rank Score Item

1. 134 Sergei Rachmaninoff
2. 102 Igor Stravinsky
3. 83 Peter Maxwell Davies
4. 81 Benjamin Britten
5. 76 Dmitri Shostakovich
6. 69 Harrison Birtwistle
7. 67 Ralph Vaughan Williams
8. 61 Alfred Schnittke
9. 56 Leonard Bernstein
10. 54 Richard Strauss
11. 54 Arnold Schoenberg
12. 53 Claude Debussy

A Brit list, obviously. Who else would say Harrison Birtwistle is # 6? And Ravel, Prokofiev and Bartok are nowhere to be found. I'd also add Copland
Where's Gustav Mahler then?
Seán

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Lance » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:48 pm

Gustav didn't make the cut!
Seán wrote:
RebLem wrote:Rank Score Item

1. 134 Sergei Rachmaninoff
2. 102 Igor Stravinsky
3. 83 Peter Maxwell Davies
4. 81 Benjamin Britten
5. 76 Dmitri Shostakovich
6. 69 Harrison Birtwistle
7. 67 Ralph Vaughan Williams
8. 61 Alfred Schnittke
9. 56 Leonard Bernstein
10. 54 Richard Strauss
11. 54 Arnold Schoenberg
12. 53 Claude Debussy

A Brit list, obviously. Who else would say Harrison Birtwistle is # 6? And Ravel, Prokofiev and Bartok are nowhere to be found. I'd also add Copland
Where's Gustav Mahler then?
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by jbuck919 » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:15 pm

In all honesty, even Vaughan-Williams and Britten would be most likely to appear on an Anglocentric list. We might tend not to find their presence remarkable because they are also popular in the US, but it is doubtful that they have true international stature. Bernstein's presence is a puzzle for both reasons (not an international composer, not a Brit). Another obvious omission besides those already mentioned is (as on the piano composer list) Prokofiev.

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by piston » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:20 pm

I'm sure that RVW, himself, would be shocked to be featured on a list that excludes Sibelius and Ravel.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by piston » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:22 pm

Britten was not so modest.....
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Sator » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:38 pm

piston wrote:I'm sure that RVW, himself, would be shocked to be featured on a list that excludes Sibelius and Ravel.
What do you expect from a list where Bernstein gets in ahead of Copland, or even for that matter Prokofiev? :lol:

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Seán » Sun Nov 28, 2010 6:48 pm

Lance wrote:Gustav didn't make the cut!
Seán wrote:
RebLem wrote:Rank Score Item

1. 134 Sergei Rachmaninoff
2. 102 Igor Stravinsky
3. 83 Peter Maxwell Davies
4. 81 Benjamin Britten
5. 76 Dmitri Shostakovich
6. 69 Harrison Birtwistle
7. 67 Ralph Vaughan Williams
8. 61 Alfred Schnittke
9. 56 Leonard Bernstein
10. 54 Richard Strauss
11. 54 Arnold Schoenberg
12. 53 Claude Debussy

A Brit list, obviously. Who else would say Harrison Birtwistle is # 6? And Ravel, Prokofiev and Bartok are nowhere to be found. I'd also add Copland
Where's Gustav Mahler then?
Bernstein & Yawn Williams make the list and Mahler doesn't :roll: , it's nonsense so. :wink:
Seán

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Chalkperson » Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:41 pm

I think all these lists were made by a Computer, HAL it ain't... :wink:
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Prometheus » Mon Nov 29, 2010 12:37 am

Chalkperson wrote:I think all these lists were made by a Computer, HAL it ain't... :wink:
How fortuitous that I finally watched 2001 yesterday. Otherwise I would not have known what you were referring to. :wink:

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by val » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:20 am

1. DEBUSSY

2. STRAVINSKY

3. SCHÖNBERG

4. BARTOK

5. RICHARD STRAUSS

6. SIBELIUS

7. PROKOFIEV

8. WEBERN

9. MAHLER

10. RAVEL

11. ENESCU

12. ALBAN BERG

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Nov 29, 2010 5:53 am

Really, I don't think those late Romantics (Elgar, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Nielsen, etc.) belong on a list of "greatest" 20th-century composers.

We've been through this one before. Let's keep it to those who brought in new styles, like Bartok, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Prokofiev, etc.

We wouldn't include Haydn in the top 19th century composers either, now would we?

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:01 am

Prometheus wrote:
Chalkperson wrote:I think all these lists were made by a Computer, HAL it ain't... :wink:
How fortuitous that I finally watched 2001 yesterday. Otherwise I would not have known what you were referring to. :wink:
Do let us know when you get to The Wizard of Oz. :wink:

The problem with the HAL notion is that he, er it, would have produced as good a list as any connoisseur.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by piston » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:44 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Really, I don't think those late Romantics (Elgar, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Nielsen, etc.) belong on a list of "greatest" 20th-century composers.

We've been through this one before. Let's keep it to those who brought in new styles, like Bartok, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Prokofiev, etc.

We wouldn't include Haydn in the top 19th century composers either, now would we?

Tschüß,
Jack
I don't know what you are referring to with "We've been through this one before." Obviously, your own categorization of Richard Strauss and Sibelius in the same cultural garden as Mahler and Elgar is highly problematic: they're not from the same era and the former's works extends to the 1920s, in one case, and to the 1940s, in the other. Would you call N. Myaskovsky a 19th century composer? Everything he wrote belongs into the first half of the 20th century. In which period do all these Late Romantic 20th-century composers belong to? The cultural limbo period?!
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by piston » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:56 am

Are not Virgil Thomson, Roy Harris, Howard Hansen, George Gershwin, etc., 20th-century composers? If so, how great is the cultural divide separating them from Sibelius, R. Strauss, Rachmaninov, and N. Myaskovsky?
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:59 am

piston wrote:Obviously, your own categorization of Richard Strauss and Sibelius in the same cultural garden as Mahler and Elgar is highly problematic.
That's not obvious to me. I think it is legitimate for Jack to make a distinction between modernism-tending and modernist-averse composers after Brahms. However, I agree that if such a distinction has not been specified it is even more absurd to cite some of the composers on the original list and not Mahler and Strauss along with Bartok. Furthermore, the whole question of modernism is fraught with complications, starting with something as relatively straightforward as Schoenberg's stylistic development or Strauss' "backtracking" after Elektra, and continuing to more complicated theoretical problems of the various means even the supposedly "late Romantic" composers employed to make their music sound like their own and not an extended retrospective on the 19th century.

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:00 am

piston wrote:Are not Virgil Thomson, Roy Harris, Howard Hansen, George Gershwin, etc., 20th-century composers? If so, how great is the cultural divide separating them from Sibelius, R. Strauss, Rachmaninov, and N. Myaskovsky?
Not to mention Piston. :wink:

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by piston » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:05 am

Well, that's what I meant, above, by clearly establishing the cultural parameters of this poll. The use of twentieth century as the sole point of reference is not only confusing but also misleading.
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:06 am

piston wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:Really, I don't think those late Romantics (Elgar, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Nielsen, etc.) belong on a list of "greatest" 20th-century composers.

We've been through this one before. Let's keep it to those who brought in new styles, like Bartok, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Prokofiev, etc.

We wouldn't include Haydn in the top 19th century composers either, now would we?

Tschüß,
Jack
I don't know what you are referring to with "We've been through this one before." Obviously, your own categorization of Richard Strauss and Sibelius in the same cultural garden as Mahler and Elgar is highly problematic: they're not from the same era and the former's works extends to the 1920s, in one case, and to the 1940s, in the other. Would you call N. Myaskovsky a 19th century composer? Everything he wrote belongs into the first half of the 20th century. In which period do all these Late Romantic 20th-century composers belong to? The cultural limbo period?!
We had a thread recently on "greatest 20th-century composers", but it was limited to four and enlarged to six by Karl and me.

I like John Buck's take on this.

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:09 am

piston wrote:Well, that's what I meant, above, by clearly establishing the cultural parameters of this poll. The use of twentieth century as the sole point of reference is not only confusing but also misleading.
We must remember that Elgar, Mahler, R. Strauss, Nielsen and Sibelius were all born within eight years of each other----and that their styles were formed in the late Romantic Era.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Seán » Mon Nov 29, 2010 8:15 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Really, I don't think those late Romantics (Elgar, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Sibelius, Nielsen, etc.) belong on a list of "greatest" 20th-century composers.

We've been through this one before. Let's keep it to those who brought in new styles, like Bartok, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Prokofiev, etc.
Tschüß,
Jack
No! :wink:
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Chalkperson » Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:51 am

Given that the beginning of a Century (creatively) usually starts in the last Decade of the previous one, the Mahler, Strauss Sibelius and Nielsen belong in the 20th Century, Elgar is too steeped in the previous one to qualify...
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by piston » Mon Nov 29, 2010 10:19 am

Yeah, Chalkie. We either have got a very short 20th century culturally situated between the Late Romantic, on one hand, and the Neo-classical and Neo-romantic composers, on the other hand, or it's a very long century during which educators such as Nadia Boulanger were still encouraging and applauding the consonant, late-Romantic like music of young American students in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and beyond.
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by dulcinea » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:29 am

How about the best dozen:
Baroque
Classical
Early Romantic
Middle Romantic?
In the Classical list, I would suggest Karl Philipp Emmanuel and Johann Christian, and perhaps also Johann Michael, whose religious music was admired even by non-Catholics such as ETA Hoffmann.
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:46 am

dulcinea wrote:How about the best dozen:
Baroque
Classical
Early Romantic
Middle Romantic?
In the Classical list, I would suggest Karl Philipp Emmanuel and Johann Christian, and perhaps also Johann Michael, whose religious music was admired even by non-Catholics such as ETA Hoffmann.
There aren't even close to a dozen best composers in any one of those categories. Now if you wanted to talk Renaissance....

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by some guy » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:49 pm

Well, even after efforts to make the list more, um, modern(ist), it's still heavily weighted towards the bottom end. That is, towards 1900. If we had more people who really listened to twentieth century music, and who really enjoyed it, we wouldn't have all these expressions of dismay at the absence of Mahler or Sibelius and perhaps more lists like the ignored suggestions of Guitarist. Still pretty heavily weighted towards 1900, but very clearly an attempt to pull away from that end.

We've talked about what the original list reveals about its makers. I wonder if we're strong enough (brave enough, honest enough) to talk about what the responses so far (including the ignoring of Guitarist's additions--which came in post #2, after all) reveal about us. Really, a discussion of twentieth century composers that leaves off.... But soft. Let's find out about ourselves, first. And I think that we all of us should probably listen to quite a lot more music before we contribute to a thread of this sort. Quite a lot.

For earlier centuries we do tend to rely a lot on the possibly unreliable winnowing process referred to as "the test of time." That is, we allow the tastes and preferences and prejudices and blindnesses (deafnesses) of people long dead to substitute for our own individual experience. And whatever validity that may have, it gets less and less valid the closer one gets to the present. For one, not as much winnowing has gone on--no large body of different people cancelling out each others' deaf spots at the very least. For any age, there's nothing like individual experience. (Yes, we are all at the mercy of what gets played. Even if we read music, we are at the mercy of what's been printed or what's still available. The short list thrown up by "the test of time" is a further restriction from all of that, that's all.) For one's own age, there's probably nothing better.

So how about we get more familiar with our own time before we have this discussion? Even start with Guitarist's relatively cautious list? And I don't just mean the people who have already been recognized as giants. (There are more than 12 of these people who didn't get on that original list at all.)

Of course, that's going to take a little time. It took me ten years to get from 1943 to 1982, and I was (am) voracious. And perhaps people here are impatient enough not to want to wait for ten years (or more) before Michael lets them talk about the twentieth century! :lol: So how about this in the meantime. How about we work on jettisoning "best"? (And, of course, "dozen" and any other numbers.) For one, how can you even determine "best" before you know "all"? I mean, unless you let other people do it for you, which is cheating, eh? For two, the closer you get to "all" (and of course no one ever actually gets there) the less likely you are to be enamoured of the idea. Why, we're halfway to rejecting that already, even us. We've already seen, just in this discussion, that ANY list of twelve is going to leave off any number of members' favorites. (And any list of twelve is going to leave of some great--oh, right. If we jettison "best," we also jettison "great" as well.)
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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by Heck148 » Wed Dec 01, 2010 12:59 pm

[quote="RebLem"]Rank Score Item

1. 134 Sergei Rachmaninoff
2. 102 Igor Stravinsky
3. 83 Peter Maxwell Davies
4. 81 Benjamin Britten
5. 76 Dmitri Shostakovich
6. 69 Harrison Birtwistle
7. 67 Ralph Vaughan Williams
8. 61 Alfred Schnittke
9. 56 Leonard Bernstein
10. 54 Richard Strauss
11. 54 Arnold Schoenberg
12. 53 Claude Debussy

any list that puts rachman'ff on top is a total crock!! :roll: :lol:

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by karlhenning » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:06 pm

(* chortle *)

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by diegobueno » Wed Dec 01, 2010 1:49 pm

RebLem wrote:Rank Score Item

1. 134 Sergei Rachmaninoff
2. 102 Igor Stravinsky
3. 83 Peter Maxwell Davies
4. 81 Benjamin Britten
5. 76 Dmitri Shostakovich
6. 69 Harrison Birtwistle
7. 67 Ralph Vaughan Williams
8. 61 Alfred Schnittke
9. 56 Leonard Bernstein
10. 54 Richard Strauss
11. 54 Arnold Schoenberg
12. 53 Claude Debussy
I've been following this thread waiting for some kind of explanation of this list, but haven't seen it yet. Who made this list, besides "brits"? What do the numbers next to the names represent? Did they poll a number of people and tally up the results? Who did they ask? Why should we pay any more attention to this list than to any of the zillion others which have appeared on this forum?

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Re: Best Dozen classical composers of the 20th century

Post by THEHORN » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:06 pm

Frankly,I'm getting tired of these ridiculous and pointless lists.
You can't put numbers on greatness. Setting up an arbitrary number of the "greatest" makes absolutely no sense.
People tend to equate the most famous and popular with the greatest.
But just because composer X is more famous and frequently performed than composer Y does not necessarily mean that composer X is the greater one.

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