My wife came across an article that noted the primary cultural focus in 21st century America is fine food and wine. It’s what intelligent people discuss, even argue about, in casual conversation. And just look at all the writing focused on it today.
A related factor the article raised was that in modern history, in each century one nation has dominated in one art form rather than many. That’s had me thinking, even though I think America led on two fronts in the 2oth century.
Here are ten examples that spring to my mind.
- Painting and sculpture. 16th century Italian masters.
- Theater. 16th century England. Shakespeare is unrivaled.
- Painting. 17th century Dutch masters.
- Painting. 19th century France culminating in Impressionism.
- The symphony. 19th century Germany towering in Beethoven and Brahms. Do we think of Vienna as essentially German?
- The novel. 19th century England and America. Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn may be flawed but they remain original masterworks.
- Opera. 19th century Italy. Verdi and Puccini remain the core of the repertoire.
- Ballet. 19th century Russia. Its great symphonists excelled here. And look where the great dancers and teachers still come from.
- Movies. 20th century America. (Shall we consider Hollywood as a nation unto itself?)
- Popular music. 20th century America as jazz and then rock evolve. (Note that this happens more in the eastern half of the country – New Orleans, Kansas City, Memphis, Cleveland, Nashville, but especially New York.)
I’ll leave it to others to look for the food trends over time.
What else would you add to this list?