Translator’s Note

Adorno published Der getreue Korrepetitor in 1963. Subtitled Lehrschriften zur musikalischen Praxis it was taken up after his death into volume fifteen of his Gesammelte Schriften or collected writings, which volume also contains Komposition für den Film, a book he co-authored with Hans Eisler in 1944. Parts of The Faithful Répétiteur derived from Adorno’s time in America as well, namely from the studies he made of the NBC Music Appreciation Hour. They provided much material for the book’s first chapter, from which the excerpt presented here is taken. The excerpt begins at the point in the chapter at which “the negation of music appreciation turns into the plan for an idea of structural listening”, as Adorno says in the book’s preface. Read the rest of this entry »




When in the course of the history of living beings, it becomes necessary for one species to dissolve the bands that have bound it to another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the independent and equal station to which the laws of nature and its divinity entitle it, a decent respect for the opinions of all creatures requires that it should declare the grounds on which it acts.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

that all creatures are created equal,

that they are endowed by the creator with inalienable rights, that among these
are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,

that in this respect no difference between human beings and animals obtains,

that therefore, according to the measure of the highest ideals, the proposition holds, all animals are human beings,

that accordingly dogs too may properly claim human rights,

that among the human rights of dogs there are included, aside from eating, drinking and sleeping: sniffing, straying from the path, barking, biting, cocking legs, playing at nonsense and a reasonable measure of general destruction, Read the rest of this entry »

Writers still object that because the typewriter does not obey the innervations of the hand it is supposedly incapable of producing a bodily sort of contact between thought and writing; writers for whom such contact is paramount should, it is said, keep with the fountain-pen. O romantic and inexperienced objection, that even maintains the mistrust of technology there where the thought long ago came to the rescue of technology! Nowhere is the contact between word and thought closer than on the typewriter. Not, admittedly, that between writing and thought. The hand that strikes into the material of the keys doesn’t bother itself with the written result that hovers way up there on the horizon of the machine. Rather it chisels word-bodies out of the keys, so clearly that it is as if they were held in the fingers under whose pressure they are sculpted out of the keyboard. On the machine, writing has been transformed back from a two-dimensional into a three-dimensional process. Words, across so many centuries merely read, can once again be felt; perhaps in this way we are getting them back within our grasp, whereas for so long we had been under the sway of their foreign power.

Translated from the German (c) by Marc Hiatt. (Last revised 5.08.2006.)

Written 1931. Collected in Gesammelte Schriften Bd. 20.2 (2003) Frankfurt a. M..

I got to know the music we are accustomed to calling classical as a child, through four-handed playing. There was little of the symphonic and chamber music literature that would not be incorporated into home life with the help of the large wide-format volumes, uniformly bound in green by the bookbinder. They seemed made for page-turning, and I was allowed to turn the pages well before I knew the notes, following only my memory and hearing. Even Beethoven’s violin sonatas found themselves included in peculiar arrangements. Some pieces, such as Mozart’s G-minor symphony, so impressed themselves on me during that time that even today it seems to me that no orchestra could ever produce the tension of the introductory semi-quaver movement as completely as the questionable attack of the second player. This music more than any other was suited to the apartment. It was brought forth on the piano as on a piece of furniture, and those who plied it without shyness in the face of interruptions and wrong notes belonged to the family.

Four-handed playing laid the geniuses of the bourgeois nineteenth century as a gift at my cradle in the beginnings of the twentieth. Four-handed music: that was music with which one could still live and commerce, before the musical compulsion itself demanded solitude and secret craft. That says something not merely about the practice of playing but also about that which was played. Read the rest of this entry »