Adorno, Modernism and Mass Culture

Essays on Critical Theory and MusicMax Paddison


By the author of Adorno’s Aesthetics of Music. This book consists of four sections: critical theory and music; Adorno’s aesthetics of modernism; Adorno, popular music and mass culture; and critical reflections on Adorno.






In examining the work of Theodor Adorno, this collection of essays focuses on the German philosopher’s ideas in the field of musicology. Though it addresses complex theories, this inquiry maintains a lucid style, describing the nuances of Adorno’s thought while not relying on a great deal of prior knowledge to shed light on his contributions to music theory. Included is a discussion of the applicability of Adorno’s ideas to popular music and an assessment of Adorno’s continuing relevance in light of other commentaries.



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About the Author

Max Paddison is Professor of Music at the University of Durham, UK. His book, Adorno’s Aesthetics of Music, was the first full-length study of Adorno’s philosophy and sociology in English. Adorno, Modernism and Mass Culture, now in its second edition, extends and develops themes raised in that book. Max Paddison has also published widely on the philiosophy and sociology of nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, the avant-garde and rock music. He is co-editor (with Irene Deliege) of the book Musique Contemporaine: Perspectives Theoretiques et Philosophiques to which he has also contributed chapters on Adorno and issues in contemporary music and postmodernism.


1. Critical Theory and Music
2. Adorno’s Aesthetics of Modernism
3. Adorno, Popular Music and Mass Culture
4. Critical Reflections on Adorno


…a briliant piece of work…
Charles Rosen – The New York Review of Books

Paddison has assembled an accessible and timely collection of reflections on Adorno’s aesthetics of music in service of showing just how it might compose a framework for the present critical interpretation of culture.
Tom Huhn, Professor of Philosophy – British Journal of Aesthetics

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