Nettl discusses the ethnomusicological background in West, referring to a social structure he terms "The Pantheon". The describes the relationship between the great composers of society and the Music Building, and how they influence each other. He focuses mainly on Mozart and Beethoven as the chief great composers of the 18th/early 19th century.
I like the questions Nettl raises regarding whether or not the same piece of work would mean or sound the same if it were created/thought up of by two different people. It is impossible to ignore the impact experience has on how one views what an artist produces, both from the perspective of the audience and the producer. The producer may have different intentions as to how they want their music to be perceived in society, and therefore may introduce it through a different light that alters how society receives the music. The listener also likely has predetermined feelings about a particular artist, and will automatically compare new works to old works. So whether or not someone likes or dislikes an artist, or feels that their new work is true to that artists form, will also determine how he/she receives the piece.
I also appreciated Nettl's comparison of the engraved composers names at the Indiana University in Bloomington versus at Harvard University. I thought it provided an appropriate example showing several crucial aspects of the ethnomusicology of Western music. One important point is that there really is no universal agreement as to what composers were the greatest. Yes, some are more well known than others, but who determines who is "better" than another? We can arrange names in any order we want and provide a logical explanation as to why, just as how Harvard shows a sequence of history, but this too includes a matter of opinion. In addition, the ranking is severely limited by the constraints of what defines Western music. Those who fit the mold more precisely are often considered the more talented composers. But this is only in terms of how well it applies to one specific circle of music. And, as Nettl addresses, wasn't this circle created, defined, and established through these composers themselves? It's not fair to say Beethoven and Mozart were the best composers when in fact they were two of the leading pioneers in the foundation of Western classical music - of course they fit the mold, they shaped it!