Quasi Una Fantasia: Essays on Music and Culture

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9780860913603: Quasi Una Fantasia: Essays on Music and Culture

Quasi una Fantasia contains Adorno‘s own selection from his essays and journalism over more than three decades. In its analytical profundity it can be compared to his Philosophy of Modern Music or his monographs on Berg, Mahler and Wagner. Its themes and references range from Mozart to Boulez, the minuet to the jitterbug. At the book‘s core are studies of the founders of modern music: Mahler, Schoenberg and Berg, as well as sympathetic rediscoveries of Zemlinsky and Schreker. Especially significant is Adorno‘s “dialectical portrait” of Stravinsky, in which he refines the damning indictment he gave in Philosophy of Modern Music. In “Vers une musique informelle” he plots a course for a music of the future” which could take up the challenge of an unrevised, unrestricted freedom.” More unexpecedly, there are moving accounts of earlier works, such as Bizet‘s Carmen and Weber‘s Der Freischutz, along with “Natural History of the Theatre,” which explores the rituals and hierarchies of the auditorium, from dress circle to foyer. Musical kitsch, be it Gounod‘s “Ave Maria” or the “Penny Serenade,” is the target of several of the shorter pieces. Yet even while Adorno demolishes “commodity music” he is sustained by the conviction that music is supremely human because it retains the capacity to speak of inhumanity and to resist it.

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About the Author:

Theodor Adorno was director of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt from 1956 until his death in 1969. His works include In Search of Wagner; Aesthetic Theory; Negative Dialectics; and (with Max Horkheimer) Dialectic of Enlightenment and Towards a New Manifesto.

Language Notes:

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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