The ""critical sociologists"" of the Marxist-Weberian-psychoanalytic Institute for Social Research in pre-Hitler and postwar...

READ REVIEW

INTRODUCTION TO THE SOCIOLOGY OF MUSIC

The ""critical sociologists"" of the Marxist-Weberian-psychoanalytic Institute for Social Research in pre-Hitler and postwar Frankfurt are gradually becoming available in this country in English translation; Seabury has already given us Adorno's Negative Dialectics (1972) and Philosophy of Modern Music' (1973). The encyclopedically synthesizing intellect of this sometime composer--the friend of Webern and SchÖnberg--ranged through such diverse realms as tragedy, epistemology, and the psychology of authoritarianism. The present work, originally a series of lectures delivered some seven years before Adorno's death in 1969, is a diffuse, mazy, crabbed, penetrating study that will defeat all but the most sophisticated persistence. With particular regard to the German post-Romantics and moderns, it attempts to open up the relationships between Western music and the societies which have both generated and betrayed it. Adorno's approach is rich in maddening categorical Be It Knowns--contemporary popular music is at bottom mass-market product-engineering, founded on a debased simulacrum of individual communication. It is equally rich in challenging applications of diverse intellectual resources--Beethoven, in throwing out the obligatory recapitulation of the sonata form while reshaping repetition as a formal element, illuminates not only the great historical moment of the ""revolutionary bourgeoisie"" but the dialectical victory of a thinker rescuing ""the objective formal canon that has been rendered impotent."" If there is a general thesis, it is knotty and eclectic beyond any convenient summary, but Adorno's recurrent concern is with a sort of painful, inevitable dialectic between ""individual fate and human destiny,"" as elaborated in the ""cryptogram"" of art. A book to be fought out, line by line, by all for whom music has its own perplexing reality.

Pub Date: March 22, 1976

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Seabury

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1976