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Adorno on Music by Robert W. Witkin

By Robert W. Witkin

Publish yr note: First released February nineteenth 1998

More than 1/2 the broadcast works of Theodor Adorno have been dedicated to his stories in tune. As his popularity has grown lately, notwithstanding, Adorno’s paintings on tune has remained a overlooked region as a result of its musicological complexity.

This is the 1st targeted account of Adorno’s texts on song from a sociological viewpoint. In transparent, non-technical language, Robert Witkin courses the reader during the complexities of Adorno’s argument concerning the hyperlinks among tune 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 in which Adorno’s writings on tune will be understood. It used to be via those works greater than any others that Adorno verified the ideal of the humanities to be said as an ethical and important strength within the improvement of a latest society. by way of improving them for non-musicologists, Witkin provides immeasurably to our appreciation of this monstrous of twentieth-century inspiration.

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Extra resources for Adorno on Music

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Lukacs 1972). The sonata was the predominant form in which instrumental music developed at the time of Balzac and the rise of the novel. The great symphonies of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven can be thought of as largescale sonatas for orchestra. The sonata does not describe and sociologise , as does the novel. It is true that some music occasionally invokes literal associations - the sound of cannon in the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky or the cuckoo in Beethoven's 'Pasto ral' symphony; also, music may sometimes bind itself to a given literary text such as the tone poems of Richard Strauss or narrative music such as Prokoviev's Peter and the Wolf It is clearly the case that music has a direct power to be 'affecting', to 'simulate' mood, sensation and emotional tension, to bring the sensuous constitution of the subject 'to mind'.

While these intellectual constructions may seem light years away from the problems of jazz or the 'variety act', they are clearly connected in Adorno's analysis. They, too, are oriented to the reduction of th e individual to an abstract or pure subjectiv it y, to a complete disjunction of subject and object. True subjectivity for Adorno is always an historically const ituted subjectivity. It is a subjectivit y in which subject and object, ind ividual and society, 25 M USICA M O R A LI A mediate one another, constitute one another; there is no realm of pure subjectivity which is 'in-itself and distinct and different from its objects; subject and object tango together in history but not without a struggle for hegemony, not without one or other appearing, sometimes, to get the upper hand - more subjectification, more objectification, etc.

These can be seen to echo those established in the other arts, in painting, music and architecture, for example. However, in drama there is a more direct and obvious simulation of social action. Writers have frequently used theatre as a metaphor for social life and sociologists have appropriated its terminology to describe social life. The structural conditions of the new drama are therefore closest to those that describe - ideal-typically - the individuated social relations of bourgeois society.

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