Night Music

Essays on Music 1928-1962

Theodor W. Adorno

Night Music

Theodor W. Adorno

Distributed for Seagull Books

Translated by Wieland Hoban
328 pages | 5 x 8 | © 2009
Paper $16.50 ISBN: 9780857427090 Published November 2019 World sales rights except India

Although Theodor W. Adorno is best known for his association with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, he began his career as a composer and successful music critic. Night Music presents the first complete English translations of two collections of texts compiled by German philosopher and musicologist Adorno—Moments musicaux, containing essays written between 1928 and 1962, and Theory of New Music, a group of texts written between 1929 and 1955.

In Moments musicaux, Adorno echoes Schubert’s eponymous cycle, with its emphasis on aphorism, and offers lyrical reflections on music of the past and his own time. The essays include extended aesthetic analyses that demonstrate Adorno’s aim to apply high philosophical standards to the study of music. Theory of New Music, as its title indicates, presents Adorno’s thoughts and theories on the composition, reception, and analysis of the music that was being written around him. His extensive philosophical writing ultimately prevented him from pursuing the compositional career he had once envisaged, but his view of the modern music of the time is not simply that of a theorist, but clearly also that of a composer. Though his advocacy of the Second Viennese School, comprising composer Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils, is well known, many of his writings in this field have remained obscure. Collected in their entirety for the first time in English, the insightful texts in Night Music show the breadth of Adorno’s musical understanding and reveal an overlooked side to this significant thinker.


Translator’s Introduction

I           Moments Musicaux



Beethoven’s Late Style


Homage to Zerlina

The Pictorial World of Der Freishütz

The Tales of Hoffmann in Offenbach’s Motives

On the Score of Parsifal

Night Music


New Tempi

On Jazz

Physiognomy of Krenek


Zillig’s Verlaine Songs

Reaction and Progress

Schönberg’s Wind Quintet

Alienated Magnum Opus: The Missa Solemnis

II         Theory of New Music

Nineteen Encyclopaedia Articles on New Music

Atonal Intermezzo?

Against the New Tonality

Excursuses on an Excursus

Why Twelve-Note Music?

The Development and Forms of New Music

New Music Today

On the State of Composition in Germany

On the Relationship between Painting and Music Today

On the Current Relationship between Philosophy and Music

Review Quotes
Publishers Weekly
"Wonderfully displaying the verve and richness of Adorno's provocative ideas on the composition and development of classical and modern music and their necessary relationship to historical and material contexts, this volume brings together two significant collections of essays, Moments Musicaux and Theory of New Music, from the German collected works of one of the 20th century's most dazzling yet perplexing philosophers. . . . The blend of precise music analysis, sociohistorical awareness and stylized writing in the individual texts is always engrossing reading."
Arlo McKinnon | Opera News
"Wieland Hoban’s fine translation marks the first time these two collections have been published as Adorno and Tiedemann intended. . . . His essay on Weber’s Der Freischutz sent me racing back to renew acquaintance with this glorious opera, and he convincingly expounds on how Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande owes much to the orchestration of Parsifal. . . . There is much musical treasure to be found in these pages."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

RSS Feed

RSS feed of the latest books from Seagull Books. RSS Feed