Adorno as Critics – Mozart, Wagner and Strauss in the Light of the Aesthetic Theory


  • Susanne Kogler



Theodor W. Adorno, Music Critique, Musical Philosophy, Aesthetic Theory


There is no doubt, that Adomo's critical monographs and essays on Wagner and Strauss, as well as the text on Sibelius, number among the most controversially discussed parts of his oeuvre. One important reason for this controversial reception is the fact that these writings combine philosophical and musical views. As far as the musicologists are concerned, the texts lack a detailed analytical perspective; from the philosophical point of view on the other hand, the deliberations are too much dominated by musical phenomena. This text, which was written for a lecture held at the Musicology Department of the University of Ljubljana in April 2005, aims at placing Adorno's music criticism in the context of his critical aesthetics and in his musical philosophy respectively, which he summed up in his Aesthetic Theory. By doing so the most important criteria, which refer directly to the critical perspective of his thought concerning language and culture in general, shall be focused upon. The article consists of four parts: The first part will focus on Adorno's ideas on 20th century art in general, for these theoretical thoughts constitute the basis of his thoughts on music and musicians. In the second part, Adorno's demands of musical criticism are placed in the centre of interest. The third part discusses Adorno's critique of Wagner by comparing it to his views on Mozart. The fourth and last part provides a detailed analysis of Adorno's two essays on Richard Strauss. Beside Adorno's Aesthetic Theory his writings on music criticism, in particular the paper held in 1967 at the Institute for Musical Criticism and Aesthetical Research of the former Music Academy in Graz entitled »Reflections on musical criticism«, his Essay on Wagner and his two papers on Richard Strauss written in 1924 and 1964 serve as textual basis for the following consideration.


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How to Cite

Kogler, S. (2005). Adorno as Critics – Mozart, Wagner and Strauss in the Light of the Aesthetic Theory. Musicological Annual, 41(1), 45–57.