Uncertain States Adorno. Compositions in Exile

Concert and Reading

Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969) was banned from working in Germany in 1933. The following year he went into exile, going first to Oxford, and then in 1938 to the United States, where he remained until 1949, when he returned to his homeland. The “fate of emigration” completely disrupted the continuity of his life and forced conditions upon him that shook him to the core. As a student of composition under Alban Berg in the 1920s, Adorno, who already held a doctorate, aspired to a career as a composer, but had to sacrifice this ambition as a result of his changed personal circumstances. However, the influential philosopher and sociologist continued to also view himself as a “ musician of the Second Viennese School” throughout his life. This presentation focuses on how Adorno’s exile experience affected his “composer’s trauma”. In word and sound the philosopher Gabriele Geml, the soprano Isabella Kuëss, the pianist Han-Gyeol Lie, and the actor Albrecht Hirche trace out the conditions under which Adorno carried out his creative work while in exile.

Piano pieces from Adorno’s papers

P. K. B. Eine kleine Kindersuite (1933)
Langsame Halbe – Immer ganz zart (Berlin, 1934)
Die böhmischen Terzen (Brentwood, 1945)


Sechs Bagatellen für Singstimme und Klavier op.6 (1923–1942)
Chanson-Postkarte | Joachim Ringelnatz (Berlin, 1934)
Marschlied | Detlev v. Liliencron (Berlin, 1934)
Trois chansons populaires françaises arrangées pour une voix et piano (New York, 1939)
Rüsselmammuts Heimkehr | Lied für eine Singstimme und Pianoforte von Archibald Bauchschleifer (1941)


From Theodor W. Adorno’s letters to his parents


6 December, 5 pm: Audio Drama Theodor W. Adorno: "Europa nach der Emigration"

Tuesday, 6 Dec 2016

7 pm


Hall 2

Gabriele Geml:  Introduction
Isabella Kuëss: Soprano
Han-Gyeol Lie: Piano
Albrecht Hirche: Narrator

In German language

Free admission

Programme booklet (PDFin German language)

Further information