With a Soft Collar

Baden-Baden, 25 March 1964
A psychotherapist wished to give a talk on Schubert from the point of view of his own discipline. It was to take place in a very large hotel. The speaker's rostrum had a curtain in front of it and resembled a puppet theatre. Suddenly, the large hall seemed to be like the ones they have in country hotels, such as the Frankfurter Hof in Kronberg. A pub pianist in a shabby evening jacket and a stained shirt with a soft collar began to bang away on a rickety, out-of-tune piano. After a few introductory bars, the psychotherapist launched into a boozy, off-key rendition of ‘Ich schnitt es gern in alle Rinden ein’ in an exaggerated Viennese dialect, Ottakring dialect to be precise, as if it were the ‘Fiakerlied’. He wanted to create the right mood. As in Hollywood, the distinction between Schubert and operetta became blurred. I felt overcome by insensate fury. I sought out the guests of the hotel, which by now had been transformed back into a grand hotel with innumerable smaller rooms where they all sat around dispersed into little groups. I harangued them with the argument that this performance was so barbaric that it turned anyone who tolerated it into a barbarian as well. My eloquence did not go unheeded. We all joined forces to beat the psychotherapist to death. I became so agitated that I awoke.

(Theodor W. Adorno, Dream Notes, Christoph Gödde and Henri Lonitz (Eds), Rodney Livingstone (Trans), Polity, Cambridge, 2007, pp. 68–69).