COMPOSERS: What makes a great one?

Ivan Hewett (The Telegraph) analyses what qualities are needed to make a great composer and takes issue with the suggestion that Stravinksy is not among the finest.

What makes for greatness in classical music? My colleague Damian Thompson had some fun with this question in his Saturday column. He declared that only pompous music lovers say you can’t rank classical composers into best, good, and indifferent. Making rank orders of different human types is harmlessly entertaining, and something we do all the time.

It’s true that ranking composers ought to be just a bit of fun, but it’s astonishing how touchy people get on the subject. A few weeks back I dared to suggest Ravel might not be in the front rank of composers. This attracted a barrage of protest from various musicians and composers. What was strange was the ...

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