Synopses & Reviews
In its analytical profundity it can be compared to his Philosophy of Modern Music, but in the range of its topics and the clarity of its arguments it stands alone among Adorno's writings on music. Especially significant is Adorno's "dialectical portrait" of Stravinsky in which he both reconsiders and refines the damning indictment he gave in Philosophy on Modern Music. More unexpectedly, there are moving accounts of earlier works, including Bizet's Carmen and Weber's Der Freischutz, along with an entertainingly caustic "Natural History of the Theatre," which explores the hierarchies of the auditorium, from upper circle to foyer. 'The positive element of kitsch', Adorno remarks, 'lies in the fact that it sets free for a moment the glimmering realization that you have wasted your life.' 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. It is a conviction which reverberates throughout these writings. For Adorno, music and philosophy were inextricably linked: Quasi una Fantasia will enlarge our understanding of both.
"A volume of Adorno is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature." Susan Sontag
Quasi una Fantasia is Adorno's own selection of his essays and journalism from more than three decades of music writing.
This collection covers a wide range of topics, from a moving study of Bizet’s Carmen to an entertainingly caustic exploration of the hierarchies of the auditorium. Especially significant is Adorno’s “dialectical portrait” of Stravinsky, in which Adorno both reconsiders and refines his damning indictment of the composer in Philosophy on Modern Music. Throughout, Adorno is sustained by the conviction that music is supremely human because it is capable of communicating inhumanity while resisting it. His belief in the benevolent and transformative power of music reverberates throughout these writings.
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.