Adorno as composer

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Despite Adorno’s hope for social transformation, his influence is (by design) primarily in the academic and cultural spheres, and his critiques of popular culture and music were scathing and sometimes just plain weird. He had a notoriously irrational dislike of jazz, for example. (Historian Eric Hobsbawm said that his writing contained “some of the stupidest pages ever written about jazz.”) Adorno also disliked “protest music,” as you can see from the interview above, in which he slams the folky, hippy stuff for its “cross-eyed transfixion with amusement” that renders it safe. Protest music, Adorno says, takes “the horrendous,” the Vietnam War in this case, and makes it “somehow consumable.” Maybe Dylan felt the same way when he gave up his Woody Guthrie act and started writing those brilliantly arcane, poetic lyrics.

But Adorno didn’t just preach the virtues of difficult art. He practiced them. In addition to championing the twelve-tone music of Arnold Schoenberg, Adorno composed his own music, for piano and strings. The three piano pieces above are his, somewhat reminiscent of the most dissonant passages in Modest Mussorgsky. Performed by pianist Steffen Schleiermacher, the pieces are titled “Langsame halbe—Immer ganz zart,” “Heftige Achtel,” and “Presto.”

-from here (music in link)

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2 Responses to Adorno as composer

  1. dmf says:

    Reblogged this on synthetic zero.

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