In his earlier writings and especially in his 1952 work Versuch über Wagner, Theodor W. Adorno developed a strongly critical perspective on Wagner's music, which he associated with the commodification of culture and the emergence of fascism. But in the 1956 program note to Parsifal, and in the 1963 lecture “Wagner's Actualität,” Adorno found in Wagner's music moments of critical possibility. Adorno's changing assessment reflects a larger constellation of themes about bourgeois strength and natural vulnerability. From a redemptive moment in Wagner's music, Adorno discerned an analogy between the wounded or broken character of musical modernism and the experience of creaturely suffering. The modernist artwork leaves behind any aesthetic of “heroism” and emerges, as if from a disaster, with bodily injuries that can never be healed.

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