Mr. Marks some clarification if you have time. Your recent column was hard for me to separate what you called likes/dislikes and standards in art. Are you saying that there is no way to determine greatness in art? It seems you are saying if someone likes Hummel better than LVB, that is his business. True and I believe that as well. But what if said person wanted to say that he thought Hummel was a better composer than LVB? Surely you would try to help him and show how misinformed he was, no?
I have a feeling that what defines greatness in an artist is how he handles the material he uses. I agree with Charles Rosen when he is discussing LVB greatness. What really made LVB great is how he handled the notes and themes that he used. No one in the classical period or maybe ever created masterpieces with so little. Staying within the rules of the tonic he created masterpieces in an era where others were trying to be freer harmonically but whose skills in composition did not measure up to LVB (say von Weber).
This also touches on your art example with Dali. There is a difference between likes and greatness but surely some artists are objectively better than others, much like some baseball players are better than others. Just some thoughts for discussion.