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Read Stephen Mennell being interviewed about Norbert Elias
in Sociologica, 2014

Read the January 2015 newsletter of the Norbert Elias Foundation
Norbert Elias died on 1 August 1990.
To mark the twentieth anniversary, the German radio station WDR3
(Westdeutscher Rundfunk 3. Programm) broadcast a fifteen
-minute programme in its daily ZeitZeichen series

You can find out more information about Elias by visiting the Norbert Elias Foundation website

Mozart and Other Essays on Courtly Art

Norbert Elias (author)
Eric R. Baker (author)
Stephen Mennell (author)
Publication date:
11th June 2010

Author Biography

NORBERT ELIAS (1897-1990) was one of the greatest sociologists of the twentieth century. He studied in Breslau and Heidelberg and served as Karl Mannheim's assistant in Frankfurt. In exile after 1933, first in France and then in Britain, he wrote his magnum opus The Civilizing Process. At its ill-timed publication in 1939, it received little note. Only after his formal retirement in 1962 was the book reissued in German and translated into many other languages. That, and a flood of other books and essays, made him an international intellectual celebrity towards the end of his long life. His whole oeuvre is now appearing in new scholarly editions in the Collected Works in English. ERIC R. BAKER teaches German at Inver Hills College, Minnesota, and writes on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German literature and Enlightenment philosophy. STEPHEN MENNELL is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University College Dublin.


Like his father Leopold, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was dependent on a court aristocracy in whose eyes he was little more than a domestic servant. Unlike his father, however, his personal makeup was already that of the freelance artist who sought to follow the flow of his own artistic conscience and imagination rather than the courtly conventions and standards of the day. In "Mozart: the Sociology of a Genius", Elias paints a portrait of this extraordinarily gifted artist born into a society that did not yet possess either the concept of 'genius' or (at least in music) that of freelance artist. The apparent contradictions of his character - the refined elegance of his compositions and the coarseness of his lavatorial humour - reflect his uncomfortable and eventually tragic straddling of two social worlds. The volume also includes two major essays on cognate topics, previously unpublished in English: on the courtly painter Watteau's "Embarkation for Cythera", and on 'The fate of German Baroque poetry: between the traditions of court and middle class'.