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Mátyás Seiber's collaboration in Adorno's jazz project, 1936

Nick Chadwick


IN 1982 the British Library acquired the papers of the Hungarian-born composer Matyas Seiber (1905-60) through the generosity of his widow, Mrs Lilla Seiber. This large collection contains not only sketches and scores of Seiber's musical works but also scripts for lectures and broadcast talks on a variety of musical topics, including jazz. Among the jazz papers is a typescript of a paper, with covering letter, by the German social philosopher and music critic Theodor W. Adorno (1903-69) together with the draft of two letters from Seiber to Adorno. Mrs Seiber has very kindly put five further letters from Adorno to Seiber on permanent loan in the British Library. Adorno's paper, which has hitherto been presumed lost, is a carbon copy, with autograph annotations, of a typescript entitled 'Jazz: Expose einer gesellschaftlicher Untersuchung. Januar 1936' ('Jazz: Formulation of a Sociological Investigation. January 1936'); in it he sets out the thinking behind his proposed investigation into the social phenomenon of jazz.

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