FIRST POSTED: 27/01/16
I am saddened to hear of the death of Colin Vearncombe, the singer of the group ‘Black’, best known for the 1987 hit “Wonderful Life”. On my first day at the University College of North Wales, Bangor (UCNW) Andrew Radford, professor of Linguistics, handled the welcoming ceremony in the P-J Harvey, sorry the P-J Hall, and before he started his address he played this song, stressing the great times we’d be having at the UCNW. And he was right, despite his lectures on syntax.
Another memory of my first day at Bangor was Professor Roy King, a criminologist and sociologist, introducing us to the three main figures we’d be learning about in our courses with him; Karl Marx, Max Weber and Emile Durkheim. He expressed his favourite of the three by analogy, like many other things during his courses. He talked of a famous musician being asked who his favourite composer was, and the musician answered ‘After Mozart?’, from which we were to understand that Mozart – much more of whom later – was in a class of his own and all the rest were of the second rank. For Roy King, Durkheim was the Mozart of Sociology.
I mention this type of comparison because although it frequently explains something in a way that is easy to understand, it has been horribly, although sometimes comically, used by hacks in the media. Here are more than a few examples, my favourites highlighted.
The Pritzker Prize is the Nobel Prize of architecture. The Turing award is the Nobel Prize of computing. The Gordon Bell Award is the Nobel Prize of supercomputing. The Abel Award is the Nobel Prize of Mathematics. The Fields Medal is (also) the Nobel Prize of Mathematics. The Wolf Prize is sometimes considered the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Agriculture. The Millennium Technology Prize is the tech. equivalent of a Nobel Prize. Sangita Kalanidhi is the Nobel Prize of Carnatic music. The Blue Water Medal of the Cruising Club of America is the Nobel Prize of Sailing. The Polar Music Prize is the Nobel Prize of music. The Academy Award is the Nobel Prize of motion pictures. The Philip DiNenno Prize is the Nobel Prize of public safety. The Edelman Award is the Nobel Prize of operations research. The G. Bruce Blair Medal is the Nobel Prize of amateur astronomy.
The Minorities in Research Award is the Nobel Prize of this Field. The Indianapolis Prize is the Nobel Prize of animal conservation. The Brian Blatchford Prize is the Nobel Prize of orthotics and prosthetics. The Shaw Prize is the Nobel Prize of the play-by-post online role-playing community. The Global Teacher Prize is the Nobel Prize of teaching. The Templeton Prize is the Nobel Prize of religion. The Prix Galien is the Nobel Prize of the commercial medical and biotechnology fields. To know yourself and be yourself is the Nobel Prize of Peace and Authenticity. The Nelson Paul Anderson memorial essay is the Nobel Prize of dermatology. Miss Nude Exotic Winnipeg is the Nobel Prize of skankdom. The Dykes Medal is the Nobel Prize of the Iris world. The Goldman Prize is the Nobel Prize of environmentalism. The Stockholm Water Prize is the Nobel Prize of water research. The Terzaghi Oration is the Nobel Prize of geotechnical engineering. The Hans Christian Anderson Award for Illustration is the Nobel Prize of the world of children’s literature. The Shingo Prize is the Nobel Prize of manufacturing. The Marconi Foundation Prize is the Nobel Prize of Communications. The Rehnquist Award is the Nobel Prize of judicial administration.
The World Food Prize is the Nobel Prize of food and agriculture. What is irrational and ‘non-scientific’ today, is the Nobel Prize of tomorrow. Best Tenderloin of the Year Award by the Iowa Pork Producers is the Nobel Prize of tenderloins. The Cervantes Award is the Nobel Prize of Spanish Arts. The Beard Award is the Nobel Prize of the food world. The Deming Prize is the Nobel Prize of manufacturing companies. Yacine Brahimi is the Garrincha of Granada. Magnus Carlsen is the Mozart of the chessboard. Mendelssohn is the Mozart of the 19th century. Nestle is the Mozart of beverages. Trump is the Mozart of being full of shit.
David Bowie is the Mozart of the 20th century. Steven Halpern is the Mozart of our time. John Williams is the Mozart of our day. Aelita Andre is the Mozart of the Visual Arts. Rothbard is the Mozart of economics. Beethoven is the Mozart of classical music. Norman Foster is the Mozart of modernism. Homer [ Simpson? ] is the Mozart of Halloween decorations. Meryl Streep is the Mozart of actresses. Ravikiran is the Mozart of Indian Music Ronnie O’Sullivan is the Mozart of snooker. Brian Wilson is the Mozart of pop. Sergio Aguero is the Mozart of football. Clos Saint-Denis is the Mozart of the Côte de Nuits. Malala Yousafzai is the Mozart of world peace. Jose Chameleone is the Mozart of Uganda’s music industry. Pushkin is the Mozart of poets. Ellis Horvitz is the Mozart of the appellate bar. Miguel ‘El Piojo’ Herrera is The Mozart of Mexico. Yuto Miyazawa is the Mozart of Metal. AR Rahman is the Mozart of Madras. Yeezus is the Pet Sounds of our time.
Larry Grobel is the Mozart of Interviewers. Charlie Parker is the Mozart of jazz. Sulamith Wulfing is the Mozart of visual art. Grindr is the Mozart of gay apps. Mr. Capooci is the best janitor in Pennsylvania. He is the Mozart of moving boxes, the Picasso of painting bathrooms, the Frank Lloyd Wright of erecting cubicles. John Woo is the Mozart of Mayhem. Lionel Messi is the Mozart of Football. Higuaín is the Messi of Serie A. David de Gea is the Messi of goalkeeping. Jonathan Wood is the Messi of estate agents. Thiago Silva is the Messi of defenders. Darco is the Messi of the equestrian world. Usain Bolt Is The Messi Of Athletics. Dybala is the Messi of the future. Blueberries are the Messi of the Superfood world. Hazard is the Messi of Chelsea. Richard Blackwood is the Messi of fucking up zesting a lemon. Buffon is the Messi of keepers. Longoria is the Messi of racquetball. Dulce de Leche is the Messi of ice cream flavors. Joe Canning is the Messi of hurling. Connolly is the Messi of Gaelic football. Stephen Curry is the Messi of the NBA. Carbajo Ré is the Messi of women’s golf. Leopoldo Federico és el Messi del bandoneó. François Sagan is the Coco Chanel of French Literature. The Fannies is like the Grammys for fucking. Howard L Weiner M.D. is the Jonas Salk of Multiple Sclerosis. Sondheim is the Shakespeare of the musical theatre world. Shakespeare? Let’s leave it there…
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This begs the question of who young Mozart was compared to in the Salzburg Sun as he began to make a name for himself.