Music, Marxism, and the Frankfurt School

In 2014 I was the Chair of the Organizing Committee for a conference called “Music, Marxism, and the Frankfurt School.” This conference gave sustained attention to the rich and fascinating interaction between music and the socio-cultural and aesthetic theory of Marxist writers in the Austro-German sphere, including members of the Frankfurt School. With its focus firmly fixed on music as the object of reflection and contemplation, the conference investigated how these thinkers conceived of and responded to music. It probed the manner in which these thinkers illuminated the philosophical, political, and metaphysical aspects of musical material. Moving out concentrically from this central point, the conference explored the influence these writers exerted on composers and musicians of their own time and of subsequent generations. It also examined the influence of Marxist criticism and the Frankfurt School on musical discourse since the mid-twentieth century. In so doing, it traced the intellectual debt many of these writers owe to the German intellectual tradition from Kant to their own time. The conference attracted a delegation of speakers from Ireland, the UK, the USA, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Belgium. It was hosted by the School of Music, University College Dublin as part of the celebration of the centenary of music at UCD in 2014. It was sponsored and co-funded by the FP7 Marie Curie Actions of the European Commission, and carried out in association with the Society for Musicology in Ireland, and the Department of Music, University of California, Irvine.

For more details, see here.