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The New Music

Kranichstein Lectures

Theodor W. Adorno

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Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst, Musik / Philosophie


A year after the end of the Second World War, the first International Summer Course for New Music took place in the Kranichstein Hunting Lodge, near the city of Darmstadt in Germany. The course, commonly referred to later as the Darmstadt course, was intended to familiarize young composers and musicians with the music that, only a few years earlier, had been denounced as degenerate by the Nazi regime, and it soon developed into one of the most important events in contemporary music. Having returned to Germany in 1949 from exile in the United States, Adorno was a regular participant at Darmstadt from 1950 on. In 1955 he gave a series of lectures on the young Schoenberg, using the latter's work to illustrate the relation between tradition and the avant-garde. Adorno's three double-length lectures on the young Schoenberg, in which he spoke as a passionate advocate for the composer whom Boulez had declared dead, were his first at Darmstadt to be recorded on tape. The relation between tradition and the avant-garde was the leitmotif of the lectures that followed, which continued over the next decade. Adorno also dealt in detail with problems of composition in contemporary music, and he often accompanied his lectures with off-the-cuff musical improvisations. The five lecture courses he gave at Darmstadt between 1955 and 1966 were all recorded and subsequently transcribed, and they are published here for the first time in English. This volume is a unique document on the theory and history of the New Music. It will be of great value to anyone interested in the work of Adorno and critical theory, in German intellectual and cultural history, and in the history of modern music.


Max Paddison, Durham University
"The lectures Adorno gave at Kranichstein between 1955 and 1966 provide an invaluable elaboration and clarification of his thinking on New Music, and in particular on his interpretation of Schoenberg's early works. Wieland Hoban's excellent translation does a great service to this magnificent scholarly edition edited by Klaus Reichert and Michael Schwartz of the T. W. Adorno Archive. Its publication in English is of great significance for our understanding of Adorno's influential ideas at a key period in twentieth-century music."
Darmstädter Echo
"This book demonstrates the contribution of one of the twentieth century's most important thinkers to a pivotal moment in avant-garde composition."
"With a high level of theoretical reflection and exceptional skills in technical composition, Adorno succeeded in mediating critical social theory and radical aesthetics."
Andrew Bowie, Royal Holloway University of London, and author of Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy
"Adorno's lectures show just how lucid and engaging a thinker he can be. These fluently translated lectures and discussions complement his published works on modern music. They offer accessible analysis of works by Schoenberg and others, as well as philosophically informed reflections on the challenges faced by composers, performers and listeners who take music seriously as a response to the modern world."



Kulturwissenschaften, Kritische Theorie, Kunst u. Angewandte Kunst, Philosophy, Music, Musik, Philosophie, Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Art & Applied Arts