In 1949, Theodor W. Adorno’s Philosophy of New Music was published, coinciding with the prominent philosopher’s return to a devastated Europe after his exile in the United States. Intensely polemical from its first publication, every aspect of this work was met with extreme reactions, from stark dismissal to outrage. Even Arnold Schoenberg reviled it.
Despite the controversy, Philosophy of New Music became highly regarded and widely read among musicians, scholars, and social philosophers. Marking a major turning point in his musicological philosophy, Adorno located a critique of musical reproduction as internal to composition, rather than a matter of musical performance. Consisting of two distinct essays, “Schoenberg and Progress” and “Stravinsky and Reaction,” Philosophy of New Music poses the musical extremes in which Adorno perceived the struggle for the cultural future of Europe: between human emancipation and barbarism, between the compositional techniques and achievements of Schoenberg and Stravinsky.
In this translation, which is accompanied by an extensive introduction by distinguished translator Robert Hullot-Kentor, Philosophy of New Music emerges as an essential guide to the whole of Adorno’s oeuvre.