By Robert W. Witkin
Publish yr note: First released February nineteenth 1998
More than half the printed works of Theodor Adorno have been dedicated to his stories in song. As his attractiveness has grown lately, notwithstanding, Adorno’s paintings on tune has remained a ignored quarter as a result of its musicological complexity.
This is the 1st certain account of Adorno’s texts on song from a sociological point of view. In transparent, non-technical language, Robert Witkin courses the reader throughout the complexities of Adorno’s argument concerning the hyperlinks among song and morality and among musical works and social constitution. Separate chapters tackle his therapy of Beethoven, Wagner, Mahler and Berg, Schoenberg, Stravinsky and at last jazz. all through, Witkin develops a sociology of the paintings during which Adorno’s writings on track may be understood. It used to be via those works greater than any others that Adorno verified the proper of the humanities to be said as an ethical and significant strength within the improvement of a latest society. by means of improving them for non-musicologists, Witkin provides immeasurably to our appreciation of this colossal of twentieth-century inspiration.
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Extra info for Adorno on Music
Social and cultural relations were seen as manifesting, in all their various forms, what another German aesthetician, Erwin Panofsky, referred to as a distinctive 'mind-world relationship' (E. Panofsky 1972). It was, natural, therefore, for Adorno to move freely, in his critical thought, between society, philosophy and music, since all three were seen as aspects of the same phenomena. A particularly apt example of this type of claim of cultural unity is to be found in Panofsky's exploration of the parallels between the architecture of Gothic cathedrals and Scholasticism in the religion and philosophy of the late Middle Ages (E.
In either case, the free historical ind ividu al is lost. When Adorno lines up his champions of truth in musi c against the enemies of that truth, it is on the basis of that same dark choice between a musi c that, he claims, truly reflects the human condition - a music that is the result of an historically constituted and mediated social praxis, a music which refuses identity and resist s oppression - and a music which seeks to escape from entanglements, to lay claim to an unmediated realm of pure musical experience and which, whether it retreats into inwardness or escapes into outwardness, is a music which collaborates with oppression.
That is, in truly bourgeois societies, the very construction of society itself is the construction of a 'second nature' which is the ground of all the projects of individual producers and merchants. Ideal-typically, this second nature must be constructed through negotiation and co-operation among free individuals. Bourgeois societies tend to 'democratic' political structures and the development of 'universalist' systems of law. It was the individualism and cultivation of personality emerging in the political cultures of the Italian Renaissance cities that so impressed Burkhardt (].
Adorno on Music by Robert W. Witkin