Critic Is Large; Contains Multitudes, or "Masters Are Masterful"

Exploring Bartok's Legacy With Plenty of Energy
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 11/1/2011

Let's leave aside (by which I mean: let's don't) that the title editor made the random choice to capitalize one of the prepositions and not the other. In virtually every style format exactly zero percent of prepositions in titles should be thusly treated, but maybe it's some new quirk in Chicago 16 of which I'm not yet aware; because, hey: if you didn't change a bunch of shit, why would you need to issue a new edition? It's not like every editor in the world is basically required to buy one every time you...oh, right.

Figure 1: The University of Chicago, publisher of the aforementioned eponymous ubiquitous style guide. So that's how they fund their insanely wacky devastatingly influential school of economics.

Master is a term applied too loosely in classical music.

This is, unedited [by me: ed.] and verbatim, the opening sentence in this review; no words have been manipulated to make it appear more prominent than it is.

To declare someone a master makes it sound as if an artist had reached some benchmark of skill and insight, and every performance said master gave would automatically be masterly.

I'm not sure that "mastery" necessarily equates to "consistency," but, yes, that word is thrown around pretty casually.

In fact great musicians work constantly and continually challenge themselves.

Wow. Good thing I read the New York Times, because I just popped into existence about 45 seconds ago and thought that great musicians were, generally, incompetent but insanely fucking lucky.

But: fine. Overused designator. Too-oft typed moniker.

Maybe the definition of a master is elusive.

Wow; that's award-winning stuff right there. You think you can find insights like that in the Post?

Figure 2: The Post, winner of the "Miss Congeniality" award in the 2010 Best Partisan Rag Pageant.

But somehow you know one when you hear one, as was clear on Monday night when the pianist Andras Schiff played a recital before a full house of rapt listeners at Carnegie Hall.

Really? Let me get this straight, paraphrase-style:*

"Man, people sure throw "master" around a lot; it's vague to begin with and overuse just makes it kind of meaningless and trite. But man! You should've seen this concert! Dude was a master."

Know what? I got your master right here. Self-proclaimed is the way to go, unless you're going to wait for the Times to come around and, finally, declare you to be such.

Figure 3: True mastery is characterized by subtlety.

Become the ruling body.

*We are aware of all internet traditions.