Scholarship on Forster and music has tried to resolve contradictions in the texts: biographical information is recruited to produce readings that are consistent with his documented musical preferences and political opinions. This article analyzes music in A Room with a View and Howards End to explore the presence of receding nineteenth- and emerging twentieth-century approaches to music. The different and contradictory ways music is presented can be understood as competing notions of what music is and means. This discussion uses T. W. Adorno’s writing on Beethoven and Mahler to analyze the different guises in which music appears in Forster’s novels to show that music is a site of conflict. Residues of nineteenth-century aestheticism are contained in the depictions of “sublime” music, while at other times music is shown to be a product of existing material conditions.