Adorno's engagement with postwar music is reflected in the complex history of his reception among composers, theorists, and critics of the time. His work was seen both as pointing the way forward and as hopelessly outmoded, and his ideas were often eagerly adopted only to be transformed into something very nearly their opposite. This tangled and contradictory reception stems in part from misreadings of his texts, but it also parallels his changing positions on the music and ideas of the period. Changes and constants in Adorno's thinking can be seen by comparing two of his central essays on postwar music: ““Das Altern der Neuen Musik”” and ““Vers une musique informelle.”” Key concepts in these essays (and his music philosophy in general) include material, time, subjectivity, and the ethics of new music. An analysis of these essays and concepts reveals that despite relevant changes, Adorno's narrow reading of an Austro-German compositional tradition is a constant that defines the standard for his engagement with postwar music.
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