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About Theodor W. Adorno

Adorno studied composition with Alban Berg but chose a career in philosophy. After being expelled by the Nazis from his job as Privatdozent in Frankfurt, he moved to Oxford and then to New York, following Max Horkheimer's exiled Institut fr Sozialforschung. There he took a position as musical director of the Princeton Radio Research Project and became a leading advocate of modern music and popular culture critic. He served as musical advisor to Thomas Mann for Doktor Faustus. When the institute returned to Frankfurt in 1949, Adorno followed and was appointed director. He later took a position as professor at Frankfurt University. Adorno was responsible for the idea of the 'negative dialectic' which states that pleasurable music was propaganda that served to turn listeners into submissive consumers. He believed that music must be unharmonious for it to further culture and criticized composers who abandoned serialism, as well as those who never composed in this manner. He has been accused of being a cultural elitist for his rejection of the simple and also praised as the conscience of the avant garde. ~ Lynn Vought

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