2nd International Congress of Musicology

Athens Concert Hall, 4-6 November 2003

Paper Abstracts

Hans-Joachim Hinrichsen

Between Terminology and Metaphor. The Analytical Content of Theodor W. Adorno’s Early Essays on Franz Schubert

Translation in Greek: Markos Tsetsos

The “first significant essay on music interpretation” by the quill of the young Theodor W. Adorno is dedicated to Franz Schubert; it was written in 1928 in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Schubert’s death. Later, when this text was republished in 1964 (in the collective volume Moments musicaux), Adorno himself criticized it for being “abstract, in a bad sense”. With this expression he referred to the extremely non-mediate philosophical interpretation of musical situations and to the rather metaphorical style of his text, where a mostly vague terminology has been applied. It is in general observed that even what Adorno said later about Schubert does not only resort to forms of representation that are in a much higher degree metaphorical than what he said about other composers, but also that it remains astonishingly close to the world of symbols settled in 1928 in his first essay on Schubert.
In my paper it will be shown through several examples that – albeit Adorno’s self-criticism – this “metaphoricism” may lead to very substantial analytical critical observations on Schubert’s music, which totally account (even if tacitly at most) for Schubert’s picture projected by contemporary musicological research. Of course, herein emerges principally the problem of the relationship between analysis, (historic)-philosophical interpretation and the modes their meanings are exposed in language, a problem to which much too diverse solutions are given in Adorno’s essays.

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