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Sounds of the MetropolisThe 19th Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris and Vienna$
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Derek B. Scott

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309461

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309461.001.0001

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The Rift between Art and Entertainment

The Rift between Art and Entertainment

(p.85) 4 The Rift between Art and Entertainment
Sounds of the Metropolis

Derek B. Scott

Oxford University Press

Taste is a social rather than private matter, and can be used as a marker of superiority, a taste for the “refined” over the “vulgar”. By the second half of the 19th century, a distinction had arisen between “art music” and “popular music”, even if not expressed in exactly those terms. The gap between art and entertainment was caused primarily by an intense dislike of the market conditions that turned art into a commodity. Non-serious music was perceived as that which did not tax the mind and was consumed merely as an amusement, usually alongside the distractions of talking, laughing, or dancing. The idea of a second-class light music provided critics with a means of condemning any music that bore the signs of the popular — features they regarded as fashionable and facile (leicht meaning “easy” in German), rather than progressive and serious — whether or not such music enjoyed success in the market place.

Keywords:   art, entertainment, folk music, light music, leicht, serious music, status, taste, opera, operetta

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