History of Musical Trends in the 1850s to 1900

History of Musical Trends in the 1850s to 1900

Paul Fischer



History of Musical Trends in the 1850s to 1900

The 1850s saw the burgeoning classical music industry ripen with an almost pungent odor of success. While new musical forms such as jazz, salsa, and eventually pop would shock and invigorate listeners across the globe within a century, this final stage of classical dominance heardsome of the most technically proficient and abundant masterpieces. The romantic period saw the ripening of the careers of traditional musicians exemplified in Brahms’ Liebslieder (1869) and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (1892). Both of these works equate the joys of childhood and innocence with the themes of romanticism already latent in European painting and literature. As perhaps an example of the only time period in which the profits and yields of industrialization could be focused on one set of objectives, the development of a Euro-centric romanticism, the work not only eclipsed but surpassed the work of innovators in the field in a definitive manner.

Expansion of the railroads during this period is evident in the music of the artists such as Josef Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony and the manner in which brassy sections open and present mark a rivalrous departure from other choral and religious composers of the time, despite the common musical ancestry of Mozart and, more recently, even Beethoven. Many different themes are inherent in the incredible development of classical music in Europe at the time. These include the religious grounding and explosion of fervor seemingly justified by not only the discovery but the realization of riches, populations, wars, emotions and tragedy on a scale not only previously unimaginable, but unimaginable from any scale previously imaginable.

Not all music of the period, however, was limited to the realm of classical work and opera houses. Home on the Range is provided as an example of tune composed in 1871 by Daniel Kelly to a poem written by Brewster Higley. In addition to the European infrastructural inward expansion allowing a greater proliferation of musical geniuses than in all the history of mankind prior to that point, American railroads were redefining the perceptions of peripheries as social and cultural constructs. A melting pot of Irish-American, African-American, European and other counter-cultures were all at the cusp of recognition, a throbbing hub of innovation just under the surface of the frontier lifestyle. By the 1900s, the music industry had dramatically changed and perhaps the most important aspect of this was the move from live audiences to gramophones and rags, both of which were finally commercially available to the masses by virtue of mass production and assembly-line factories.

Latin Jazz and the End of an Era

The end of the period saw the musical industry begin chugging as steadily as the steam engines, and Scott Joplin’s Solace (1909) will be included as an example of the developing Latin Jazz genre. While it was only published in 1909, a combination of musical and racial discrimination meant that habanera music had been popular in America for decades before any “rags” were published. By the 1940s this would become an entire genre and produce award-winning albums through the 1970s with broad popular appeal. For listeners in the late 1800s, though, the clave-style beat and off-center gathering of instrumental acoustic devices created a whirlwind of counter-cultural production right in the middle of urban areas.

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