Whistling Brahms

Posted: 22/11/2016 by vequinox in Literature

Piano Poetry Pantelis Politics

A guy in the subway is whistling loudly the theme of the finale of Brahms’s 1st Symphony.

Theodor Adorno is so annoyed by this incident that he mentions it at least twice, in his essays “On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening (1938) and “The Radio Symphony: An Experiment in Theory” (1941). In the former essay he avers:

“The works which are the basis of the fetishization and become cultural goods experience constitutional changes as a result. They become vulgar­ized. Irrelevant consumption destroys them. Not merely do the few things played again and again wear out, like the Sistine Madonna in the bedroom, but reification affects their internal structure. They are transformed into a conglomeration of irruptions which are impressed on the listeners by climax and repetition, while the organization of the whole makes no im­pression whatsoever. The memorability of disconnected parts, thanks to climaxes and…

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