When Theodor W. Adorno -- one of this century's most influential thinkers in the areas of social theory, philosophy, aesthetics, and music -- died in 1969, he left behind an unfinished work on Beethoven, which had occupied him fitfully for more than thirty years. His notes and texts, which remain in fragmented form, were described by Adorno as a ...
When Theodor W. Adorno -- one of this century's most influential thinkers in the areas of social theory, philosophy, aesthetics, and music -- died in 1969, he left behind an unfinished work on Beethoven, which had occupied him fitfully for more than thirty years. His notes and texts, which remain in fragmented form, were described by Adorno as a "diary of his experiences of Beethoven". Adorno originally conceived the idea of a major study of Beethoven in 1937, although his writings on the composer go back several years earlier. Sketches and jottings for the project accumulated through the years, although he succeeded in producing only a handful of completed articles out of this mass of material. Adorno said that he could never find the time to take the material a stage further, to extend and structure it, but it is also likely that he felt incapable of bringing the fragments to a sense of completion in terms of the philosophical interpretation he felt they demanded. The segments analyze compositions ranging from the Bagatelles for Piano (op. 126) to the Missa Solemnis, and they address such subjects as Beethoven's use of form and tonality and the division of his work into early, "classical", and late styles. The editor has organized the segments to bring out their inherent logic and relatedness, and has incorporated those few texts on Beethoven that Adorno managed to complete, as well as extracts from larger published works that came out of the project. He has added copious explanatory notes and an appendix that serves as an invaluable elaboration of Adorno's frequently cryptic aphorisms.
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