United States, 1876 to 1900
The Gilded Age changed American technology and business structure and promoted the rise of leisure time for the middle and skilled laboring classes. Leisure increased, and entertainment made mobile by new train systems filled the gap. At the same time, the growth of urban-ism promoted cultural snobbery: What had once been a broadly shared culture split into “high” and “popular,” with limited audiences for opera or Shakespearean plays. Broader audiences enjoyed the new entertainments. Even small towns had an “opera” house, an auditorium of some sort that could host visiting entertainers or the local high school graduation. By 1900, New York City had several resident theater companies, and one of only two resident opera companies in the United States. New Orleans had the other. Symphony orchestras formed in Chicago, New York, and Boston in the gilded age. Music for the “high” culture was European written for the most part, and ...