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Slate calls for Mozart & Beethoven to be referred to by their full names to fight ‘sexism and racism,’ leaving Twitter baffled

Writing for Slate, Chris White, an assistant professor of music theory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, took issue with how some composers, like Beethoven or Mozart, are often referred to just by their last names, while others are not. In fact, continuing to use such mononyms today could be seen as “outdated and harmful,” he argued.

People tried to school the author on why mononyms stick to particular composers in the first place. “If there were a well-known Bob Beethoven or Jimmy Wagner, we would make the distinction. We include Edmond Dede’s first name because he is not as well known,” a person wrote.

“What silliness at Slate!” one tweet read. “Dede isn’t the musical equal of Beethoven. Fame not racism allows us to identify the composer by surname alone. That goes for Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, too. And artists and scientists like Picasso and Einstein, also.”

Another Twitter user added that it is the “same with people who are so famous they can go by their first name, which include a lot of women and people of color: Oprah, Beyonce, Ellen, Kanye, Chappelle, Kobe, Hillary, LeBron.” 

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