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Professor Max Paddison, PhD (Exeter), MA (Exeter), GRSM (Manchester), ARMCM

Emeritus Professor in the Department of Music

Contact Professor Max Paddison (email at


Max Paddison is Professor of Music Aesthetics at Durham University. He studied piano and composition at the Royal Manchester College of Music (where he was awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society Prize), musicology at Exeter University, and philosophy and sociology at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main (on a DAAD Scholarship). Before coming to Durham he taught at Dartington College of Arts and Exeter University, and had previously worked with performance art groups in London, with tours in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. He teaches courses in aesthetics, nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, contemporary music and popular music.

Well known for his work on critical theory and Adorno, Max Paddison has written two books in this area: Adorno's Aesthetics of Music (Cambridge, 1993,1997), and Adorno, Modernism and Mass Culture (London, 1996, rev. ed. 2004). He is joint editor of a volume of essays with Irène Deliège, Contemporary Music: Theoretical and Philosophical Perspectives (Ashgate, 2010), which has also appeared in French, and has contributed to a multi-authored volume, Order and Disorder: Music-Theoretical Strategies in Twentieth-Century Music, with Jonathan Dunsby, Joseph N. Straus, et al. (Leuven, 2004). Other recent publications include essays in Adorno: A Critical Reader (Oxford, 2002); The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music (Cambridge, 2002); The Cambridge Companion to Stravinsky (Cambridge, 2003); The Cambridge Companion to Adorno, (Cambridge, 2004); and articles in the journals Musicae Scientiae (Liège, 2004), Cultura Tedesca (Rome, 2005), and Filigrane (Paris, 2006).

In the period since 2001 Max Paddison has supervised over twenty research postgraduates in the following areas: Adorno's Aesthetic Theory; Boulez’s aesthetics of music; Messiaen and early Darmstadt; Deleuze, Lyotard, Adorno, Ferneyhough and Francis Bacon; Helmut Lachenmann, Adorno, Deleuze, Lyotard; American Minimalism and the Concept of Time; Professionalisation of Music Therapy; Music Festivals and National Identity; National Identity and Tradition in Chinese Music; Folk Music in the North East; Wittgenstein’s Philosophy of Culture (with the Philosophy Department); Scriabin and the Erotic; The Aesthetics of Improvisation; Adorno, Beckett and Feldman; Adorno, Translation and Marginality.

Research Interests

  • Adorno and Critical Theory
  • Aesthetics and sociology of music
  • Concepts of the avant-garde, modernism and postmodernism
  • Contemporary music
  • Interdisciplinary interests in philosophy, cultural studies, popular music studies, film music, music and theatre (especially Brecht)
  • Marxism and music
  • Nineteenth- and twentieth-century music
  • Theories of musical performance and reproduction

Selected Publications

Books: authored

  • Paddison, Max. (1996). Adorno, Modernism and Mass Culture: Essays on Critical Theory and Music. London: Kahn & Averill.
  • Paddison, Max. (1993). Adorno's Aesthetics of Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Books: edited

Books: sections

  • Paddison, Max. (2004). ‘Nature and the Sublime: The Politics of Order and Disorder in Twentieth-Century Music’. In Order and Disorder: Music-Theoretical Strategies in Twentieth-Century Music. Leuven: Leuven University Press. (Collected Writings of the Orpheus Institute, Vol.4): 107-136.
  • Dunsby, J., Straus, Joseph N., Knockaert, Y., Paddison, Max. & Boehmer, K. (2004). Order and Disorder: Music-Theoretical Strategies in Twentieth-Century Music. In Leuven: Leuven University Press. 107-136.

Edited works: conference proceedings

Edited works: contributions

  • Paddison, Max. (2002). 'The sociology of music'. In The Oxford Companion to Music. Latham, Alison. London: Oxford University Press. 1167-1169.
  • Paddison, Max. (2000). 'T.W. Adorno', 'Frank Zappa', 'Lou Reed', 'The Velvet Underground', 'Expression after 1800'. In The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. Sadie, S. & Tyrrell, J. London: Macmillan.
  • Paddison, Max. (1992). 'Adorno'. In The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Sadie, S. London: Macmillan. 25.

Essays in edited volumes

Journal papers: academic

  • Paddison, Max (2011). 'La postmodernidad y la supervivencia de la vanguardia'. Quodlibet 50(May-August): 60-84.
  • Paddison, Max (2010). Mimesis and the Aesthetics of Musical Expression. Music Analysis 29(1-3): 126-148.
  • Paddison, Max. (2006). 'Performance and the silent work: mediation and critical reflexion in Adorno's theory of musical reproduction'. Filigrane La société dans l’écriture musicale(3): 173-198.
  • Paddison, Max. (2005). 'Il concetto di natura nell'estetica musicale di Adorno'. Cultura tedesca 26 (2004)(Theodor W. Adorno (1903-2003): L'estetica, L'etica.): 197-209.
  • Paddison, Max. (2004). 'Aspects of time in the creation of music II: reponses and new departures'. Musicae Scientiae Discussion Forum 3.(Aspects du temps dans la creation musicale.): 89-99.
  • Paddison, Max. (2004). 'Performance, Reification, and Score: the Dialectics of Spatialization and Temporality in the Experience of Music'. Musicae Scientiae Discussion Forum 3(Aspects du temps dans la creation musicale): 157-179.
  • Paddison, Max. (1999). ‘Der Komponist als Kritischer Theoretiker - Brian Ferneyhoughs Ästhetik nach Adorno’. Musik & Ästhetik 3(10): 95-100.
  • Paddison, Max. (1991). 'The language-character of music: some motifs in Adorno'. Journal of the Royal Musical Association 116(2): 267-279.
  • Paddison, Max. (1987). 'Adorno's Aesthetic Theory'. Music Analysis 6(3): 355-377.
  • Paddison, Max. (1982). 'Introduction' and annotated translation of T.W. Adorno, 'On the problem of musical analysis'. Music Analysis 1(2): 169-187.
  • Paddison, Max (1982). 'The critique criticised: Adorno and popular music'. Popular Music 2(Theory and Method.): 201-218.

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