This essay presents Theodor W. Adorno’s case pro and contra the regulation of the work-concept in a tradition that long sustained a great 1800 divide. The case is made through the provocation offered in Lydia Goehr’s Imaginary Museum of Musical Works that “Bach did not intend to compose musical works.” The essay investigates the many references to Johann Sebastian Bach in Adorno’s aesthetic, social, and philosophical writings to show that his Bach case was not merely illustrative but paradigmatic of every case he made for a critical theory of possibility. Adorno’s case was an urgent matter of rescue and justice, made by linking Bach’s compositions to Arnold Schoenberg’s paradigmata of a possible music through the mediation of the work-concept for which Ludwig van Beethoven was made in the tradition paradigmatically to stand.

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