Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Top N:

Anthony Tommasini has been having a lot of fun over at the New York Times, reasoning out loud about his attempts to pick the top ten greatest classical composers of all time. His assumptions are too germano-centric for my taste, but he’s talking sense. The tension that drives this series of columns is that there are too many fine, fine candidates. I would like to give Mr. Tommasini a bit of advice:
  1. Decide who the very best contenders are. (Don’t forget Gustav Mahler.)
  2. Count them. For the sake of example, suppose there are sixteen.
  3. Rename your quest: to create the Top 16 list, and include them all.

Mr. Tommasini might complain that being so inclusive is not exciting enough, so here’s a compromise: If there are sixteen worthy candidates, make a “Top 15” list, and agonize over who gets the axe.
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