Quasi una Fantasia contains Adorno's own selection from his essays and journalism over more than three decades. In its analytical profundity it can be compared to his Philosophy of Modern Music, but in the range of its topics and the clarity of its arguments it stands alone among Adorno's writings on music. Especially significant is Adorno's "dialectical portrait" of Stravinsky in which he both reconsiders and refines the damning indictment he gave in Philosophy on Modern Music. More unexpectedly, there are moving accounts of earlier works, including Bizet's Carmen and Weber's Der Freischutz, along with an entertainingly caustic "Natural History of the Theatre," which explores the hierarchies of the auditorium, from upper circle to foyer. 'The positive element of kitsch', Adorno remarks, 'lies in the fact that it sets free for a moment the glimmering realization that you have wasted your life.' Yet even while Adorno demolishes 'commodity music' he is sustained by the conviction that music is supremely human because it retains the capacity to speak of inhumanity and to resist it. It is a conviction which reverberates throughout these writings.
For Adorno, music and philosophy were inextricably linked: Quasi una Fantasia will enlarge our understanding of both.
Theodor Adorno was born in 1903 in Framkfurt, and he died in Switzerland in 1969. He received his doctorate in 1924 for a work on Husserl, and went on to study piano and composition in Vienna with Alban Berg and Eduard Steuermann. He then taught at the University of Frankfurt until the advent of National Socialism, when he moved first to England, later to the United States, joining the institute of Social Research.