So much of what we see and hear in music is based on maybe the greatest orchestral composer ever – Beethoven. I mean, he created an orchestral world that has never been surpassed in terms of variety and color, the demand on the musicians, and the ambition he had as a sort of philosopher to express what there is in life.
And even he has antecedents – Haydn and the aesthetics of the sublime, trying to show the force of nature in all its tremendous, sometimes terrifying might. But Beethoven laid down the gauntlet for all subsequent composers. Everything after Beethoven, I think it’s fair to say, was either a reaction to try to equal it or to reject it. He’s powerful even in the composers who have rejected him – although he’s impossible to reject. Rejecting somebody is kind of implicitly accepting them on some level. You can’t be indifferent to Beethoven.