I'll just reprint my whole post from over there, and there I'll delete the part that is focussed on here. Has to do with the question of proclaiming Top Geniuses. I'm sure plenty of people have strong ideas on this, so say something if you do--this has come up before and some people seem to think genius can only be one. I disagree totally. Anyway, as before:
But, since you've linked to the whole article, I have to protest this kind of sophomoric thing:
"How long does it take a genius to dominate his art? While Shakespeare was alive and for some decades after, he was simply one of several excellent Elizabethan playwrights. Only gradually did he became accepted as England’s best, and it took more than 200 years for him to become the world’s. Mozart was established in most musicians’ minds as the supreme composer within 10 years of his death, yet even “Don Giovanni,” his most immediately successful opera in international terms, took 48 years before it reached Europe’s most prestigious theater, the Paris Opera"
Why anyone other than an undergraduate would write something that is reducible to 'My Favorite Geniuses Are, (By the Way) Also the Uber-Geniuses' is obvious, but not nearly everybody pays attention to this coarse kind of assessment. Shakespeare could perhaps be said to have become 'England's best playwright', but he can by no means be said to have managed 'in 200 years to become the world's greatest playwright.' This means that by becoming the best-known, be became somehow greater than Euripides, Sophocles and Racine, who are the ones to whom he deserves comparison (at very least these.) The Mozart pulp is even more absurd. The 'supreme composer'? Even within the time frame Macaulay gives, he has to be compared, and in all musical forms, to Bach, Haydn, Beethoven. After that, he would need to be compared to Wagner, Schumann, Berlioz, Debussy, Stravinsky, which he is tacitly if he's still being referred to in this lone lofty sphere by someone in the 21st century. But even if not, it's incredible that someone would try to say that there was any composer greater than Bach.
By the time he gets to Balanchine, it's almost like advertising and publicity. That Balanchine would be a 'growth industry' is testament to his greatness, but not to his 'greater than everybody else-ness'. There are many people who love Balanchine who do not think he was greater than Petipa or Graham. There is something about the way Macaulay writes it that makes it, as with Mozart and Shakespeare, a kind of hero worship that has a 'hyper' quality to it, and that people who are primarily interested in just great works of art (by whomever) are not taken in by.
Then there's this, which even with the 'disclaimer' (at least there's that), still comes across as a consolation prize:
"The posthumous pre-eminence he has now achieved has its negative aspects. There are a few features of Balanchine’s style and several parts of his surviving repertory that I don’t love. During his lifetime it was standard to talk of him as one of several of the great choreographers of the day. Now his contemporaries Frederick Ashton, Martha Graham and Antony Tudor are in danger of becoming the dance equivalents of Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe and Philip Massinger, whom Shakespeare eclipsed long after they had all died. Several of Balanchine’s slightest creations have been preserved, while some of the best works by Ashton, Graham and Tudor have become endangered species or extinct."
This is just silly and could probably be described as solipsistic, as opposed to all the passages in which he talks about specific ballets and dancers. So, in order to 'feel good', do we also need to proclaim a 'greatest ballerina' (not just 'favourite', but rather 'absolute, undisputed greatest'), and will that definitely be Ms. Farrell, or will there be people who think Ms. Fonteyn, or Ms. Sizova, or Ms. Makarova, or Ms. Ulanova, or Ms. Plisetskaya, or Ms. Alonso, etc...And we certainly need to fasten on Joyce as 'supreme 20th century writer', because Proust, Faulkner, Beckett and the others were just not in the same league. Not that I don't think this need to anoint 'supreme beings' is not representative of a parallel with the 'top 1%' that is what distinguishes culture in some ways in the 80s, 90s and 00s. Along the lines of People Magazine's 'Sexiest Man Alive', etc.--'high-tabloid style', you might call it.
Macaulay therefore defines Shakespeare, Mozart, and Balanchine as Cults, and no mistake about it. I don't think any of the three would take this as a compliment.
Has Picasso surpassed Rembrandt and Michelangelo and Leonardo and Cezanne and Raphael? Enquiring minds want to know.