Unique cultural events that have no equals

Inspired by this thread on why there hasn’t been another Beatles. To start the list:


Elaborate, please… Why Mozart and Shakespeare?

Mozart was a musical genius with a great output and outstanding quality. The same could be said of Bach (with the added condition of Bach being contractually obliged to crank out a new cantata every week, plus passions, plus other religious music… And instead of cranking out humdrum stuff to be played once or twice and then forgotten, he consistently produced high-quality compositions with depth). Mozart created a new musical language (modern classical music), indeed. But other composers did so as well!

Shakespeare was a great playwright and poet, true. And he was instrumental in shaping the English language. Fair enough! Yet Cervantes did the same (nowadays the Spanish language is known as “la lengua de Cervantes”, the tongue of Cervantes): He wrote the first recognizably modern novel (“Don Quixote”), and was tremendously influential.

What other qualities make Shakespeare and Mozart more special and unique? (this is NOT a rhethorical question – I am genuinely asking here for information and/or opinions).

At the end, I guess that this is just a matter of (very) personal opinion. I don’t think there is any objective (emphasis in “objective”) way of identifying “truly unique” cultural events. I think that, at most, you can try to identify “very important events” (usually the first one to do something).

I guess that the problem also might be what it is meant by “unique” here. If we are being strict about the meaning of this word, it would mean “someone doing something culturally relevant that has not been done before or since”.

If that is the intention, I might nominate Wagner: Nobody, before him, made the kind of music that he did. Nobody, after him, tried to follow in his steps. He stands alone in the landscape of music. And although I tend to dislike Wagner’s output very much, there is no denying that he was ENORMOUSLY important.

I happen to actually have given Shakespeare’s case some thought…

Part of the reason he’s so famous is the current dominance of English; it hasn’t been so long since Moliére would have been more likely to be known by “any properly educated person” than Shakespeare.

Part is the combination of a wide range of subjects with a relatively-short list of works; his catalog is short enough to lend itself to studies such as “jealousy in Shakespeare”, where every single one of his plays is analyzed for traces of jealousy. Try that one with Lope.

Do I think this means Shakespeare was more special than el fénix de los ingenios? No. But they’re both quite special as literary snowflakes go and we (Hispanics) definitely need to get better at using and selling “abroad” our own cultural resources.

As for Mozart, what was most relevant about him was a social change: he didn’t have an employer he worked for, but freelance. This is the normal state of affairs for composers nowadays; back then, it was a scandal in and of itself. If it hadn’t been him it would have been someone else a short time later - but it was him.

Those are people, not events. For events I’d suggest:

Neil Armstrong sets foot on the Moon

Internet memes in general.

ETA: el fénix de los ingenios = the phoenix of theaters, nickname given to Lope by Cervantes for his renewal of Spanish theatrical art

JFK assassination became as cultural as historical.

The Jazz Singer

Pink Floyd’s The Wall

What do you mean?