Allocation of the 500 Composers Over History
The attached figure relays three basic pieces of information about the distribution of the 500 composers listed on this site over time. The information is organized decennially; the first step was to identify for each date those composers that were alive at each time. The bottom graph, with values connected in green, charts the totals thus obtained ('n'). The top graph, with values connected in red, traces the means obtained for the ranks of the composers present in each period. Lastly, the standard deviations connected to those means are charted in the middle graph and connected in blue. All of the values graphed are listed numerically to the left of the graphs.
The resulting patterns are suggestive in a number of respects, some bearing on actual trends in the history of music, and others possibly hinting at weaknesses or biases in the current methodology. There is no need to dwell on these now; it is perhaps instructive, however, to point out that the numbers suggest two possible ways of looking at the concept of the "Golden Age" of classical music (of late in some relative decline). Some might point to the period 1860 to 1880, as indicated in the charts by a distinct minimum in its composers' mean rank values. But others might support the period 1930 to 1960, distinguished in the chart by a distinct peak in the number of composers selected here.
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