Not that it wasn’t heading there in the first place, with more and more colour being slapped on the dolly, but he really did beach it on the speed-hump of Expressionism, and no amount of jiggling has been able to dislodge it.
And so, in a massive devaluation of musical currency which puts stock market crashes to shame, it was replaced with blues, and big bands, and jazz and RnB, and the spectrum of popular culture we have now, including musicals and film music.
So context is everything.
What mass do the names Haydn, Berlioz or Wagner carry in the average KS3 or 4 Music classroom? Just the father of Form, a conjurer with Instrumentation and the most skilful of all directors of music in drama. Not much perhaps, in the face of Bo Rap, Sgt. Pepper, and Star Wars (though perhaps my cultural references are showing their age now).
Well perhaps it does. Procol Harum’s A whiter shade of pale or Simon & Garfunkel’s American Tune would’ve been nowhere if Mendelssohn hadn’t championed Bach. But standing on the shoulders of giants aside, some music has the power of endurance. Not only are Mozart, Beethoven et al still famous, but centuries after their deaths, people still hum their ditties.
Which leads to the much debated questions of what good music is, and who the grandees of the music world are and will be.