Adorno, Theodor


Adorno, Theodor
(1903-1969)
   social theorist and musicologist; a key associate of Frankfurt's Institut fur Sozialforschung. He was born in Frank-furt, where his father was a Jewish wine merchant (born Wiesengrund, Theodor adopted his mother's maiden name, Adorno, during World War I). Studies at Frankfurt led to a doctorate in 1924 with a thesis on the philosophy of Edmund Husserl.* During 1925-1928 he studied music with Alban Berg in Vienna and wrote his Habilitation on Kant and Freud. The completed manuscript was never examined; growing Marxist involvement and friendships with Walter Benjamin* and Max Horkheimer* led him to withdraw the thesis from his examiners. Returning to Frankfurt in 1928, he submitted a book on S0ren Kierkegaard as a new Habilitation. He began teaching at Frankfurt in 1931, but he was not of-facially part of the Frankfurt School* until 1938, after its relocation to New York. During 1928-1930 he edited Musikblätter des Anbruch, a Vienna-based music journal. In September 1933 the NSDAP withdrew his right to teach. Initially relocating to Berlin,* he left for London in the spring of 1934.
   Most attempts to classify Adorno are inadequate. While he was influenced by Marx, his work drew extensively on Hegel and was influenced by the pre-Marxist thought of Georg Lukacs* and Benjamin. Also, while sociology en-riched his thinking, during most of his life—from 1920 until his death in 1969— he published regularly on music. He identified himself with Vienna's neue Musik (especially the music of Berg and Arnold Schoenberg*), and his critique of music was integral to his philosophy and sociology. In sum, whether he was writing philosophy, psychology, or musicology, Adorno aimed to dissolve con-ceptual distinctions resulting from some mistaken notion of ultimate "primacy." His best-known work, The Authoritarian Personality, appeared only in 1950; inspired by his German experience, the book's thesis contends that authoritari-anism serves as the core around which certain personalities are forged.
   REFERENCES:Jay, Adorno and Dialectical Imagination; Lunn, Marxism and Modernism; Rose, Melancholy Science.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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