The term 'Romantic music' denotes a period of Western academic music that lasted throughout most of the 19th century, framing itself in Romanticism, the European artistic and literary movement. Romantic music is often characterized as being a reaction to the contained elegance and purity of the Classical period, though the reality is far more complex. Romantic composers were often fascinated with several -often contradictory- subjects: Nature and man's constant struggle against it, everything supernatural and fabulous, the mythical past, the autobiographical and the heroic, the isolated genius, the future of mankind. Improvements in instrumental design and technique, and the growth of orchestras, expanded the possibilities for composers. The rise of the middle class and the emancipation of musicians from courts and patrons represented a change in the way music reached the society. Some of the Romantic composers took an interest in nationalistic music, expressing the state of turmoil that Europe suffered. Musical forms continued to develop: while symphonies became longer and more complex, short musical forms blossomed (such as Chopin's nocturnes). Interest in preservation of the music of the past grew, as well as the will to develop music beyond its current state in terms of form, harmony, counterpoint, etc.