Ernst Bloch's utopian ton of hope

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Ernst Bloch's metaphysical philosophy of music was an important influence on the work of Theodor Adorno, and led to a series of debates about the role of art and aesthetics in political struggles, particularly among the left. This essay develops a few central themes in Bloch's speculative interpretation of music. It begins by outlining historical and heuristic contexts for understanding the universality of Bloch's central political thought. It then goes on to offer an analysis and elaboration of a few of Bloch's observations about music in the Principle of hope that concern the meaning of der Ton as an abstract bearer of musical meaning. Finally, the essay suggests that Bloch should be understood not only skeptically as an ardent (and outmoded) defender of absolute music, but sensitively as a sophisticated thinker of speculative historicism and an imaginative theorist of musical meaning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-387
Number of pages17
JournalContemporary Music Review
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Adorno
  • Bloch
  • Formalism
  • Fugue
  • Metaphysics
  • Speculative Philosophy


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