LATE BEETHOVEN: the apotheosis of counterpoint

Suffering from what I call “contrapunctitis” (you won’t find it in the medical dictionary) I am naturally biased, but I believe free counterpoint to be one of  mankind’s greatest achievements. As an expressive device, it is without parallel in any other language with the possible exception of mathematics – its nearest relative. Of all its practitioners, Beethoven pips the others to the post. From the simplest diatonic devices of the earlier works through to the late fugues, no other composer, before or since, evolved more complex contrapuntal textures within the framework of the consonance/dissonance principle. Nor has any other composer, before or since, woven these textures so powerfully into the classical forms that have survived to the present day.


The argument from the view of the development and deployment of counterpoint could be given as the one of the principal of several reasons supporting the proposition that Beethoven was - and remains – the greatest of the “great” composers.

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