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Composer Cagematch!: THE WINNER

Oh, guys. It’s been such a fun journey. Thirty-two composers (edited to add: +2 play-ins) stepped into the ring, and over the year we have slowly whittled it down to two. Before we crown our winner, let’s take a look back over composers past, shall we?

* denotes the winner of the match


  1. Prokofiev vs. Stravinsky*
  2. Debussy* vs. Ravel
  3. Dvorak vs. Copland*
  4. Britten* vs. Holst
  5. Rimsky-Korsakov* vs. Mussourgsky
  6. Grieg* vs. Sibelius
  7. Schumann vs. Brahms*
  8. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rachmaninoff
  9. Mahler* vs. Wagner
  10. Monteverdi vs. Verdi*
  11. Schoenberg* vs. Berg
  12. Bernstein vs. Gershwin*
  13. Handel* vs. Haydn
  14. Chopin* vs. Liszt
  15. Bartok* vs. Shostakovich
  16. Saint-Saens* vs. Khachaturian


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Debussy
  2. Copland* vs. Britten
  3. Tchaikovsky* vs. Rimsky-Korsakov
  4. Bartok* vs. Schoenberg
  5. Saint-Saens vs. Grieg*
  6. Brahms* vs. Mahler
  7. Verdi* vs. Handel
  8. Gershwin* vs. Chopin


  1. Stravinsky* vs. Bartok
  2. Copland vs. Tchaikovsky*
  3. Verdi vs. Gershwin*
  4. Grieg vs. Brahms*


  1. Brahms* vs. Stravinsky
  2. Gershwin vs. Tchaikovsky*


  1. Tchaikovsky vs. Mozart*
  2. Beethoven* vs. Brahms


Mozart vs. Beethoven

And so we arrive here, at the end. I think we all know whose t-shirt I was wearing, but it wasn’t a question of my sartorial decisions; it all came down to the best man taking the Composer Cagematch! crown. Are you ready? And the winner is…

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Composer Cagematch!: Bernstein vs. Gershwin

I’m not surprised that Schoenberg won his bout. I mean, he’s kind of a big deal. I had a fantastic time touring the Schoenberg museum, with its little music clips and interviews with Schoenberg’s kids and of course a video demonstration of his chess alternatives (oh, man, I should so make that my Monday video!).

I must say, though, I’m a little disappointed that we won’t be seeing Berg again, because now I have to drop my looks-just-like bomb at his goodbye-party instead of preceding his triumphant return. Ah well. He looks just like Dan Stevens as Matthew from Downton Abbey plus ten years. Twenty years? An older version. Cool. Thanks for playing, Berg.

Okay. And now I’m just gonna do it. They told me not to; they tried to dissuade me with other, more “appropriate” matches, but I don’t care. In style they may not be a perfect setup, but in time and place and Americana they are both quintessential. So:

In this corner, he’s a Jet, and a Jet all the way! It’s


And in this corner, he dressed up Jazz and took her to the concert hall! It’s


Yeah I went there.

* Interesting fact: neither one used their birth name.

Composer Cagematch!: Schoenberg vs. Berg

Let it not be said I am not a blogger of the people — last Cagematch! pitted Monteverdi vs. (Just) Verdi against each other at a reader request. I was skeptical, but I really needed some Italians, so I went with it and was pleasantly surprised: although Verdi did, as I predicted, win by a tidy margin, Monteverdi garnered a respectable number of votes. Well done all ’round.

Their names, however, caused a bit of a stir; one Twitter follow asked, what’s next? Schoenberg vs. Berg*? And I said, hold on, that’s just crazy enough to work! And so things just got frosty in the Second Viennese School, because in this corner, adamant that not just anyone can compose because it’s twelve-tone and there are rules, dammit, it’s


And in this corner, getting a late start with music but not with the ladies, it’s


I’ve heard from those who have considered this potential match-up that this will be a really hard decision. So it should be fun! Consider: Transfigured Night. But remember: Wozzeck. Emancipate the dissonance! Without scissors!

* Also suggested: Offenbach vs. Bach. I’m not doing this one because it would be mean.

** Did anyone else just get the urge to scream “ALLLLLBAAAAAAN!” chipmunks-style?


This week’s BSO concert is “Beethoven’s Fifth.” Do I really need to explain this one?

I mean, Beethoven’s fifth symphony is THE symphony. Even people who have never heard of Beethoven (they’re out there, which frightens me) know the opening bars when they hear them. I’d go so far as to say that it’s the first piece the average person thinks of when asked about their classical music knowledge.

Which is probably why I’m kind of sick of it. I know, I know; I just admitted to being kinda lukewarm on something by BEETHOVEN. For shame! But I’ve heard it soooo many times, and like I said EVERYBODY hums it, and Schroeder that one time, and the butterflies in Fantasia 2000, and yadda yadda yadda. Give me seven or nine instead. (But not Seven of Nine. I find her annoying.)

But it’s still a great piece, because it’s by BEETHOVEN. Plus Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 (and to Schubert I say: hellooooo, nurse!) and the Berg violin concerto. A pretty good line-up, no? Make it part of your St. Paddy’s Day celebration at Strathmore on Thursday, March 17 at 8 pm, or let it ease your hangover at the Meyerhoff on Friday, March 18 or Saturday, March 19, both at 8 pm. Beethoven, after all, is a panacea.