Although Theodor W. Adorno is best known for his association with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, he began his career as a composer and successful music critic. Night Music presents the first complete English translations of two collections of texts compiled by German philosopher and musicologist Adorno—Moments musicaux, containing essays written between 1928 and 1962, and Theory of New Music, a group of texts written between 1929 and 1955.
In Moments musicaux, Adorno echoes Schubert’s eponymous cycle, with its emphasis on aphorism, and offers lyrical reflections on music of the past and his own time. The essays include extended aesthetic analyses that demonstrate Adorno’s aim to apply high philosophical standards to the study of music. Theory of New Music, as its title indicates, presents Adorno’s thoughts and theories on the composition, reception, and analysis of the music that was being written around him. His extensive philosophical writing ultimately prevented him from pursuing the compositional career he had once envisaged, but his view of the modern music of the time is not simply that of a theorist, but clearly also that of a composer. Though his advocacy of the Second Viennese School, comprising composer Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils, is well known, many of his writings in this field have remained obscure. Collected in their entirety for the first time in English, the insightful texts in Night Music show the breadth of Adorno’s musical understanding and reveal an overlooked side to this significant thinker.
Theodor W. Adorno
Brand: Seagull Books
Used Book in Good Condition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My copy has no pagination errors. Many of the essays in this book have already been translated, often more than once. The translator Wieland Hoban, a native German speaker, cites Richard Leppert's excellent anthology Essays in Music translated by Susan H. Gellespie in his first footnote. The main reason to get Hoban's book, if you already own Leppert's as I do, is that Hoban offers different translations. I think it is always worth comparing translations just so you can remember you are in fact reading a translation. Here are the first sentences of Adorno's famous essay "On Jazz": The question of what is meant by jazz seems impossible to answer with a clear definition. Hoban The question of what is meant by "jazz" seems to mock with clear-cut answer. Gellespie Readers will have their preferences. I am happy I have both the Leppert and Hoban books to compare.
While it is good to have translations of these essays, the lack of editorial ambition in comparison to Leppert's Adorno: Essays on Music is disappointing, the translator Wieland Hoban's disclaimer notwithstanding. With the exception of the Introduction, all we are given is the date of composition/revision at the end of each essay. Granted the intention was not to produce a scholarly edition, but I suspect that the reader of this collection is unlikely to be satisfied by the unvarnished text and the basic information found in the Introduction. The 1928 essay 'Schubert', found in an earlier translation (by Rodney Livingstone) in the collection 'Can One Live After Auschwitz' as Hoban notes, has also been rendered into English by Jonathan Dunsby and Beate Perrey in the journal 19th-Century Music (Vol. 29/1, 2005, p. 3-14). Their accompanying discussion (short but stimulating) of the difficulties of translating the essay surely warrants a footnote here for the benefit of curious...
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