Entertainment In The 19th Century

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					In the aftermath of the collapse of the Spanish, Portuguese, Roman, Chinese and
Mughal empires, the 19th Century was typified by the growth in the influence of
Britain and the United States on the world stage. Not least of all was their influence
on entertainment.

Perhaps the biggest, and longest lasting influence is the massive impact of British
writers on the literature world. The 19th Century was a hot bed for classics. Charles
Dickens lived and worked throughout the middle period of the 19th Century on
classic fiction like Oliver Twist (1937-1939), A Tale of Two Cities (1851) and Great
Expectations (1861).

It wasnt just Dickens that was active during the century; Arthur Conan Doyle wrote
about Sherlock Holmes for the first time, the Brontes brought us Jayne Eyre, Agnes
Grey and Wuthering Heights and Rudyard Kipling gave us Young Mowgli. There
were also sinister twists in Mary Shellys Frankenstein (1818), Oscar Wildes The
Picture of Dorian Grey (1891) and Robert Louis Stevensons Strange Case of Doctor
Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886).

In music, it was the European composers that let the way in the wake of the might of
Beethoven and Back from the previous century. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) and
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) were prolific composers throughout the latter half of the
century. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky produced Swan Lake (1876), The Nutcracker (1892)
and the 1812 Overture (1880). Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) developed his operatic
masterpieces La Traviata (1853) and Rigoletto (1851). Frediric Francois Chopin
(1810-1849) and Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) were also big proponents in
establishing the credentials of classical music in the 19th Century.

Famous plays that hit the entertainment news of the time include Oscar Wildes The
Importance of Being Ernest (1895) and George Bernard Shaws Candita (1894). Anton
Checkovs The Seagull was also written in the 19th Century. It originally led to him
renouncing theatre due to the bad reception it provoked in 1896, however, its revival
in 1898 was met with critical acclaim. Its no great surprise that a lot of the great
works of theatre originated in the latter years of the 19th Century, as this was the
formative years of the Belle poque.

The era also saw the initial development of moving pictures as a form of
entertainment. Although, they did not gain real prominence until the early 20th
Century, so its fair to say that the 19th Century was largely untouched by film as a
medium for entertainment.

However, what was big throughout the 19th Century was the show. Figures like
Buffalo Bill established successful shows that travelled throughout the United States
and Europe.
The 19th Century also gave the world an abundance of artists, although, some of them
were not recognised until the 20th Century. Vincent Van Gogh, for example, died in
relative obscurity, only to be considered one of historys greatest painters
posthumously. A similar story can be seen in the works of William Blake. However,
there were a great many artists that rose to prominence in the 19th Century, including
Paul Czanne, John Constable, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch,
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Auguste Rodin, Joseph Turner and Whistler.

The 19th Century was forged under the might of the British Empire and the industrial
revolution, giving rise to a wealth of artistic creativity in the arts and entertainment
world. With the abolition of slavery and the rise in socialism as an intellectual
paradigm, the masses were starting to be considered more highly, however, the reality
is that entertainment in terms of popular music, theatre, art and literature were
predominantly the domains of the rich during the 19th Century. Although, the
technological and economical advances that began in the late 19th Century,
retrospectively called the Belle Epoch, paved the way for the arts and entertainment to
have more of a mass audience in the 20th Century.