This piece first appeared in LookLeft.
The statue of a Jewish Marxist intellectual in Budapest is being taken down, while at the same time, the statue of an anti-Semite fascist (Bálint Hóman) is being raised up. This is a deep insult to all those who fought against fascism. A trampling of history typically accompanies any fascist regime. One need only look at Spain under Franco, Greece under the Colonels, Brazil under Vargas and so on: a recurring trend is the revision of history and the expulsion of facts that don’t gel well with the predominant narrative.
To mark the publication of Stuart Jeffries' Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School we'll be posting excerpts and pieces related to Frankfurt School thinkers throughout the week, as part of our Frankfurt School Bookshelf. All books, including Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School, are 40% off until Friday September 23rd.
Here is an excerpt from The Melancholy Science, Gillian Rose's classic study of Adorno, that surveys and evaluates the activities of the Institute in the years between its founding and Adorno's death.
The Frankfurt School, 1923–50
All the tensions within the German academic community which accompanied the changes in political, cultural and intellectual life in Germany since 1890 were reproduced in the Institute for Social Research from its inception in Frankfurt in 1923. These changes were widely diagnosed as a ‘crisis in culture’. By this very definition the ‘crisis’ was deplored yet exacerbated. The Institute carried these tensions with it into exile and when it returned to Germany after the war and found itself the sole heir to a discredited tradition the inherited tensions became even more acute. These tensions are evident in the work of most of the School’s members, and most clearly, self-consciously and importantly in the work of Theodor W. Adorno.
To celebrate the publication of Stuart Jeffries' Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School we'll be posting excerpts from works by Frankfurt School thinkers throughout the week, as part of our Frankfurt School Bookshelf. All books are 40% off until Friday September 23rd.
Below is a selection from "Motifs," a collection of aphorisms on music written by Theodor Adorno between 1927 and 1951 and published in Quasi Una Fantasia: Essays on Modern Music, translated by Rodney Livingstone.
Beethoven comments on the cadenza of the E-flat major Concerto, ‘Non si fa una cadenza, ma s'attacca subito il seguente' [Don't play a Cadenza, but go immediately into the next section]. Schoenberg uses ‘free' as a binding expression mark. In this way the exceptions prove the rules of their age. Whereas Beethoven takes the Cadenza, the last vestige of the freedom to improvise, and subjects it to the composer's subjective intentions, freedom nowadays is strictly required of the interpreter in order to soften the strictness of the interpretation which is specified by the freedom of the composition.