Maybe I should be thankful anyone still writes about classical music
The New Republic's spider-in-residence Leon Wieseltier accurately describes Terry Teachout as a "freelance philistine." Teachout demonstrates why he deserves the label in his Commentary magazine encomium to Beethoven.
Teachout bungles from blurb to finish. Is it really true "that no other composer has won, or is ever likely to win, such universal affection and respect"? Quoting Grove, Teachout tells us Beethoven "will remain 'the most admired composer in the history of Western music' — past, present and future." What Teachout means is that he enjoys Beethoven more than other composers. Since he lacks the courage of his convictions, he has to drag in the mantle of universal and supreme "affection," "admiration," "respect," etc...
By that metric, Teachout is "wrong." Wagner*, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Chopin, and Schubert all praised Mozart above Beethoven. I believe the same is true of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Prokofiev. Teachout mentions that Stravinsky preferred Beethoven. Are there any other great composers who shared that opinion?
Mozart also appears currently to be the more popular of the two, if the number of CDs in print is proportional to overall sales (Tower Records: Mozart - 4860 titles, Beethoven - 3578; Amazon.com: Mozart - 9184, Beethoven - 6997).
Finally, it's surprising that Teachout pours almost four thousand words of praise on Beethoven, while saying nothing about his greatest work, the Missa Solemnis, other than that it's an "atypical masterpiece" because of its vocal elements. But Teachout does spend some time explaining his high regard for the Third and Ninth symphonies. This is the music writer's equivalent of a novice recitalist hammering out "Für Elise" because he isn't up to playing the sonatas. Teachout only superficially understands his topic.
In a previous Commentary, Teachout admitted that he could hear nothing in Glenn Gould's second studio recording of the Goldberg Variations that was superior to his first version. Now we know that Teachout's lack of discernment extends beyond Bach and Gould.
* "The most tremendous genius raised Mozart above all masters, in all centuries and in all the arts." - Richard Wagner