Chapter 6 Avant-Garde and Kitsch, or, Teddy the Musical! [chapter]

2022 Georg Lukács and Critical Theory  
Avant-Garde and Kitsch, or, Teddy the Musical! "And what about the musical theatre?" -Reporter to People's Commissar Lukács, 1919 Do you remember the night I held you so tight As we danced to the Wiener Schnitzel Waltz? -Tom Lehrer, 1953 Avant-Garde and Kitsch? Adorno is often characterized as one of the most adamant Western advocates of an elitist high culture modernism and as a powerful opponent of industrially produced, commodified mass art. He trained as a composer under the tutelage of
more » ... and remained a fierce critical advocate of the atonal music of Schoenberg and his circle, including Berg and Webern as well as younger contemporaries such as Ernst Křenek and Hanns Eisler. Adorno was also an important theoretical and critical contributor to the discussions that shaped post-World War II European "New Music" at Darmstadt and elsewhere, which encompassed a range of new compositional techniques from the further radicalization of serial composition to electronic music and the musique informelle influenced by John Cage. Adorno stood for an uncompromising commitment to musical progress, as he conceived it, which meant for him above all exploring the dissonant expressivity of new music through the relentless pursuit of advanced compositional techniques. In his studies of contemporary popular culture and in his collaborative work with Horkheimer on the standardization of culture within an ever more consolidated Culture Industry, in contrast, Adorno identified much of the music hearable on the airwaves, on record players, and in performance as a kind of degraded, stereotypical trash. Along with Horkheimer, he believed that the Culture Industry functioned to close the productive gap of thought,
doi:10.1515/9781399502436-008 fatcat:w6xo7kwpzjddfhwxrmyvqnvymy