What Is Nationalism and How Did It Affect the Way Music Was Composed in the Romantic Era?

Nationalism occurs when people identify with their county or ethnicity, and this idea impacted Romantic era composers who displayed aspects of their national identity in their music. Composers created music that was directly inspired by political events and demonstrated people's fears, hopes and dreams. Throughout its span, romanticism expressed both the turmoil of revolution and the pride and belief in the establishment.

Nationalism was the beginning of the folk music movement and had a large impact on operas and ballets, which told stories of simplicity and nature. Composers, such as Frederic Chopin from Poland and Ralph Vaughan Williams of England, used music to express their thoughts on political movements. Williams once stated that music, above all other arts, was the "expression of the soul of a nation." Music from the Romantic era is still some of the most popular orchestra music in the world.

The Romantic movement began in the mid-18th century in England and Germany before spreading across Europe and the Americas. The era grew as an ideology set against the traditional European classical institutions. The common person began to take the focus of art. People believed anyone, even those without education and lineage, could be creative and artistic.