Ask a random person on the street to name a composer. Was it Beethoven? Maybe; if it wasn't, perhaps it was Bach. I'd bet on it. I call this the "What If I Asked My Dad?" method of thought experimentation.
Musicians adore Bach. Even the most cynical historian, theorist, composer, or performer, in my experience, adores Bach.
People who love music's mathematical designs love Bach.
People who love music's emotive qualities love Bach.
People who love to study elaborate contrapuntal techniques love Bach.
People who love to perform love Bach.
Analysts love Bach; musicologists love Bach.
Everyone the fuck loves Bach. And with good reason.
Bach is the unambiguously most revered composer in the canon. Beethoven might be more enfant terrible-y; Mozart more zesty; both are undoubtedly massively influential. But it's hard to overstate the influence of Bach on, oh, say, the last 300 years or so of Western art music.
The Power of Bach, the Comfort of Morricone
Vivian Schweitzer, New York Times, 9/20/2010
So: Bach, right?
Bach strongly influenced several prominent South American composers, including Heitor Villas-Lobos of Brazil and Alberto Ginastera of Argentina.
Mm, hm. Mm-hm.
Hilarious understatement as rhetorical device?
Yeah; no. I wish.