ts came from educated-in-elite-school-system Germans such as Schopenhauer, Martin Luther, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bach, Beethoven and Goethe. There was a point in time where the German elite formed the main part of the intelligentsia. “The Germans are literary people. The country is after all das Land der Dichter und Denker, the land of poets and thinkers.” (Wasser, 2006)
To understand whether Theodore Adorno in his criticism of art, music and culture was guided by the moralist, egalitarian, capitalist or totalitarian stance, this paper will focus on Adorno’s biography and his contributions to the development of the culture industry as well as his critical views on music and popular culture. For the purpose of clarity and space, Adorno’s early works (1941-1941) will be used as reference to build the entire paper.
In 1903 in Frankfurt, Germany, Theodore Adorno opened his eyes to an affluent and educated family. Both “his mother and sister were accomplished musicians and it was from them that he received his initial training and encouragement in his life-long love for music” (Jay, 1973).
His Jewish roots ultimately became the deciding factor in his philosophical writings and thoughts, especially after Hitler’s totalitarian regime and the Nazi Holocaust swept over Germany with millions of Jews persecuted under it. During this time, Adorno was forced into exile and spent the next 16 years of his life in England and the US before returning to Germany to complete his doctorate in Philosophy from Frankfurt University.
Adorno’s position on culture and the music industry has managed to establish key influences in the domain of media studies. His ideas about these industries were critical and in some cases, pessimistic. Adorno analyses the dynamics of the culture industry in the context of ‘standardization’ underlining it as a fundamental characteristic of pop music. He quotes himself:
“A clear judgment concerning the