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The composers' popularity contest

MozartidealWNED-FM has been playing a lot of Mozart over the last couple days, which I have heard in bits and pieces because that is the way you unfortunately wind up hearing music on the radio. I listened to part of a wind serenade while stuck in a traffic jam on the 190. This morning on the way to work it was the end to the great G minor symphony.

That was when it hit me, Mozart -- pictured at left, in an idealized portrait I have always loved -- must be No. 2 in the Top 10 Favorite Composers poll they have going on. That means the top slot must be going to Beethoven. Mozart and Beethoven have been neck and neck for the last 20 years anyway. Before that Beethoven was the hands-down favorite. While not watching this contest closely, I was thinking Mozart would get the No. 1 slot. Well, as the joke goes, Buffalo always is a bit behind the times.

Then again, when I try to choose between Beethoven and Mozart I get foggy too. How do you choose?

I do not like the word "favorite" applied to music for that reason. When I am interviewing people I might ask about composers they feel close to or pieces of music they love, but do not say "favorite." Unless you're 6 years old, things are complicated. And even when you are 6 they sometimes are.

Has anyone out there been monitoring this contest? Any thoughts?

I'll start us off. My mother told me Rachmaninoff did not even place. That shocks me. He seems not to have the place in the public consciousness that he had a few decades ago. He even figured in "The Flintstones," remember? They played "Rachy-maninoff." On the other hand Tchaikovsky and Dvorak are both in WNED-FM's Top Ten. I did not expect that.

Both my mom and I were also surprised that Bach rated the No. 3 slot. Not that he does not deserve it, it is just surprising to see him in there. Maybe because it is like comparing apples and oranges, comparing Bach with Brahms. I think Brahms was No. 4.

One more thing, I have probably said this before but I do wish the radio would be more careful about what they play when. The great Mozart G minor symphony mid-morning ... do they have to? Listening to something like that in the middle of a busy day when you can't give it the attention it deserves, it's just wrong. I think it can ruin the music for you.

A final thought: It would be a riot if the No. 1 slot did not go to Beethoven as I am so sure it will. Watch, there'll be a dark horse. Moussorgsky, say, sweeps the contest! Or Ottorino Respighi. I do love my Respighi. I would not mind that.

Well, we'll find out in the next few days.

Meanwhile, any other thoughts out there?

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

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