Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Amazing letter from Theodor Adorno to Alban Berg

There is an amazing letter from Theodor Adorno to Alban Berg contained in Correspondence 1925-1935, edited by Henri Lonitz, published by Polity in 2005.

Adorno was a German sociologist, philosopher and musicologist known for his critical theory of society. He was also friends with Alban Berg, an Austrian remembered as one of the most important composers of the 20th century. Most importantly, Berg wrote Lulu (1937), an opera based on Frank Wedekind's Lulu plays. Though unfinished at the time of Berg's death, Lulu is considered one of the great opera's of the 20th century.

Adorno was twenty-one years old when he traveled to Vienna in March 1925 to study musical composition with Berg. And over the years, they would exchange many letters.

The letter I noticed in Correspondence 1925-1935 was sent from Frankfurt, Germany and is dated September 8, 1933. In it Adorno wrote that he had just seen Pandora's Box, the G.W. Pabst film starring Louise Brooks as Lulu.

What is amazing is that Adorno's viewing of Pandora's Box came four years after the silent film's release at the beginning of the sound era, and in Frankfurt am Main - a center of Nazi activity. Pabst was known to be left of center, so its surprising the extreme right, meaning the Nazis, allowed it to be show. And were was it shown? A second run theater, or cine-club of some sort?

I have tried to find an online Frankfurt newspaper archive in order to comb through the newspaper to find a listing for this screening, but have had not luck in finding an available digitized archive. 

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