One of the things that used to interest me when I was younger was the general assertion that Mozart was the greatest composer of the Western world. This opinion was repeated more or less often enough in various media to influence those who had no direct exposure to c.m. that Mozart was indeed the greatest composer. If I would ask a stranger (whether s/he knew c.m. or not) now who they believed was the greatest composer, I'd fully expect them to say Mozart-- not necessarily because they know what they're talking about, but more likely because they've heard nothing different growing up (I talk, though, of people my age; early 20s). <P>So here I am at age 12 or so, wondering why Mozart was the greatest composer. I listen to his stuff, and it's not bad (at the time), but at the same time I don't think it's good enough to rank him at the very top. What is the general reason behind putting Mozart at the top? Because he could write more pieces per year than any other composer I'm aware of? Because he was precocious enough to compose at age 3? <BR>Mozart is a great composer, but in my reserved opinion not the greatest. The ability to claim Mozart the greatest because he could write at age 3 and write more voluminously than anyone else is the same as claiming a guy who could build with Lego at age 3 and ended up putting up 650 buildings in the subsequent 33 years is automatically greater than Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe who weren't as fast out of the gate or nearly as productive.<BR>But maybe Mozart's fame derives from his operatic output. Or maybe from his ability to compose a pretty melody. Whatever the true reason(s), it actually makes no difference. The true guage of greatness lies in quality, not quantity. This guage is not a personal construct; it is the way the world has worked since the dawn of civilization. Quality of product is what maintains the standard of human endeavor. So in this regard, perhaps we should try and see how Mozart's musical output ranks qualitatively against any other composer's. <P>The starter of this thread gets no rebuttal from me. It was a personal view he (?) was stating, nothing more, and I fully respect anyone who can defend their view so long as they don't degrade your own. But I do disagree with him. Here's why...<P>Mozart's prodigous output represents music from every category of c.m. available to him. He wrote just under 30 p. concertos, 41 symphonies, (16? 17? more?) operas, divertimenti, ... and works for almost every imaginable combination of instruments. If you're a bassoonist, clarinetist, oboist, trumpetist, organist, cellist... you can be pretty confident to find a piece tailored for you by M. But exactly how much of his output is actually good? How much of it is worth hearing? How many pieces of his can you listen to before you start thinking he's almost repeating himself? Mozart wrote 41 symphonies, but maybe 4 or 5 are actually played, and only 2 or 3 of those are actually imbued with deep meaning. Beethoven only wrote a paltry nine symphonies but, by God, you'll be hard-pressed to find a good symphony orchestra that hasn't worked repeatedly through the whole cycle. Berlioz wrote two, just two!, symphonies, but they (esp. the first) are performed at least as, if not more, often than M.'s. We shouldn't even start discussing the Brahms four, or the Schumann four, or the Tchaikovsky six...<P>Mozart wrote 27 p. concertos, I think, but only a handful are ever performed. Beethoven wrote just five, Brahms wrote two, Schumann just ONE... all of which are more popular and just as often, if not more, recorded than that M. handful.<P>My point is that with Mozart, you tend to get a lot of quantity, but relatively little quality. Can this be proved or disproved? Not really, since we're talking about opinion. Why should I entertain this idea of mine? Because I look at what's been said over the years about composers' music, what has been performed, what's been recorded, and how often. And what I see is that most of Beethoven gets performed and recorded on a regular basis. I see a lot of Chopin get recorded and earn a reputation for dexterity and imbued feeling. I see a general love of all things Bach for his polyphony, counterpoint, and general mathematical-ness of his music. What I don't see is Mozart being claimed as really anything other than a good melodist and a good opera writer. To tell the truth, I don't ever get the idea of Mozart really innovating music-- or, I should perhaps say, I don't hear of his innovations because all I hear of are everyone else's. <P>Mozart wrote a good melody. So did Schubert. So did Dvorak. So did Beethoven, despite what everyone else seems to think. Melodies alone, though, will not make a composer great. Composers like Dvorak are capable of including many different melodies in the same work, but it is the ability to go farther that separates the gifted melodist from the gifted COMPOSER. The ability to take a melody, whether short like Ludwig's or long like Schubert's, and take it as far as it can go is not something a 3-yr. old prodigy can do. It is something that requires time, effort, and intelligence to do. It is relatively easy to write a melody, but a hell of a lot more work to make that melody speak in entirely different voices and elicit entirely different reactions and emotions. Did Mozart have the ability to do just that: take a melody and run with it? Not nearly as much as Beethoven did. In fact, to me, not nearly as much as many composers did. Mozart was not the best composer in that regard.<P>Perhaps you'd care to learn, if you haven't already, why I think Ludwig is naturally the greatest. There is one thing that Beethoven had that separates him from almost every other composer: strong and pervasive emotion. Beethoven was a Sag, but he should've been a Pisces or something; I swear he must've had an emotional chemistry akin to bipolar disorder. He'd fly off the handle in rage and then beg forgiveness after. He'd yell, he'd laugh raucously, he didn't often bother to temper his actions or reactions, and he was strongly influenced both as a kid and adult by emotional cues that led to everything from heartstring-tugging mash notes to suicide letters to years of legal battles in an effort to sever the ties between a child and his birth mother. In short, Beethoven was an emotional mess. It is because he was an emotional mess that he wrote such hauntingly beautiful, mesmerizingly forceful, or innately deep music. Ludwig was the first human being who relied on the human emotional state to compose. He composed as a strongly self-identified individual who knew that he was as good as he set out to be.<P>And what music he would compose! The human emotions were truly captured for the first time in score. Love, anger, despair, fear, yearning, contentment... Beethoven experienced it all, and let the world hear of it. But his music wasn't the homicide-fantasy ravings of an opium addict (did anyone say 'Berlioz'?) or the God-on-Earth self-glorifying pretty-boy delusions of a hateful narcissist (can anyone say 'Wagner'?). His music was grounded because I'm sure this is how Ludwig was able to stay in control of himself. We who are able to listen to Beethoven and actually UNDERSTAND him when we do are instantly the better for it. The human nature of our existence-- the love, the fear, the jealously, the rage, the anger, the contentment...-- cannot be denied permission to show itself. We stop being 'human' when we refuse to humor our emotions. When we lsiten to Beethoven, we can hear the composer humoring his emotions and, sometimes, we can follow along with our own personal version. The passing of a close relative or pet will elicit reactions that could be mirrored when listening to Beethoven. The joys of falling in love, or the deep wistfulness of good times past and good friends gone can be mirrored when listening to Beethoven. In fact, to make such associations between the composer and listener is like having an empathetic ear to talk to. But with Mozart, I hear none of this. I experience no real effort in Mozart to make music meaningful. I don't know if it's because I'm not trying hard enough or it's just not there.<P>There's a really nice part in the movie Immortal Beloved when Countess Erdody (I. Rossellini) is weeping over the death of her son. Beethoven (G. Oldman), who in the movie becomes closely acquainted with her, comes by to see her and you can tell he feels her pain. Instead of offering maudlin sentimentalies, he says to her that they'll speak in music. The piece the two of them play is his 'Ghost' trio; a perfectly despaired, nobly saddened work that expresses their feelings in a more subtle and personal way than words likely would have. Instead of listening to predictable and forced words, you listen to their duet and know precisely how they feel. While this never happened in real life, it doesn't matter because we can look beyond it and see what the POINT was.<P>I think one of the hardest things to do is try to make a reader able to visualize things as personal and ephemeral as the specific emotions and conditions in which they exist by words alone. I'm trying to make a case for Ludwig's greatness by claiming that of all the composers that have ever lived, none was able to make music speak of the human condition better than Beethoven. He made music NOBLE. He made it possible to relate to the art of music on an entirely new level. Surely that is reason enough to grant him the alpha-dog status he so honestly deserves.