Froturn has been known as a golden mine of arts - music, paintings, literature and architecture - for a very long time. Froturn has long traditions of procuding high quality art, but at a cost - the population has high expectations, and as High Elves are usually dogmatic, old habits die hard: experimentation with new styles is not usually tolerated, with often leads to stale repetition of long-overdone styles.
Inspirations: The High Elven mentality Edit
To understand High Elven art, we first must learn how different High Elven mentality is from Human mentality: Human life is brief, often full of backbreaking work and deaths of friends and relatives. Therefore, it comes to no surprise humans usually want to hear some light-hearted joyfully happy music and see a clown to cheer up. High Elves however - unless having spent a too long time socializing with humans - are different. Since they live for much longer and are less susceptible to diseases, they live slower lives and appreciate security, safety and calm. Additionally, Elves - especially High Elves - have some other fundamental differences from Humans: while Humans are (usually) sanguine and choleric, Elves are melancholic and phlegmatic, while Humans are (usually) extroverted, ill-disciplined somewhat tolerant, Elves are usually introverted, disciplined and dogmatic.
This difference in mentality leads to completely different tastes in art: while Humans may appreciate clowns, funny jokes and joyful music the most, High Elves are usually "aroused" the most by melancholic music, epic stories that contain love, betreyal and death. Humans might believe that Elves are aroused by depressing stories, but it's quite the contrary - Elves prefer happy endings too, they just want exciting stories: for the long-living Elves, it is much easier to accept that life has its ups and downs, and you can't be always happy. Additionally, because Elves can potentially live ten times as long as Humans, their lives are much more slower-paced, and ultimately boring - they compensate by writing epic and exciting stories about a hero who has to overcome literal hell to be reunited with his love interest and save the world, and things like that.
In music, this mentality encourages melancholicism and leitmotifs. In literature, this mentality encourages the writing of heroic epics and romantic stories. In architecture, this mentality encourages monumentalism.
High Elven architecture is best summed up as monumentalistic and harmonic. The principle of monumentalism means that a building should be impressive and imposing, it should symbolize the power of its creators, it should stand and be strong, it should look like something that's going to continue standing there for millennia, not just decades. The principle of harmonicism means that the building should be in harmony with its surroundings, and to lesser extent, with nature.
The "vibrant" black and white are preferred to the "dull" grey and "vulgar" brown - very light or very dark shades of brown are also accepted, only "regular brown" is considered "vulgar". Following this principle, marble, basalt and limestone are the most well-liked building materials, along with light birch wood and dark spruce wood. Other types of wood with a more "neither dark neither light" brown colour and any type of stone that is more grey than black or white are typically reserved for cheap buildings, ones that don't have to be aesthetically pleasing - such as tenements for the lower-class population, cheaper taverns, stables, etc.
High Elven urban planning differs from its Human equivalent in the inclusion of green space into cities - rather than tolerating the existence of filth and dull greyness, High Elves make sure all their cities have decent plumbing, as well as "green space" - they leave a small amount of space between the road and the houses connected to it, to allow grass to grow, as well as maybe a few trees or flowers - it is very common to grow berry bushes in the city, so that urban citizens can easily grab a few berries if they are desperately hungry or just want a quick snack for free. While green spaces are not usually intended for food production but rather for reducing the "dull greyness" of cities, some take the concept of a green space even further and plant a whole fruit orchard next to a house - right in the middle of the city.
High Elven literature is usually refined - the main purpose is the same as music: to make the audience think and use their brains, to arouse melancholic feelings. In love poetry, poets often compare their love interests to the most beautiful flowers and buildings.
The favoured type of literature is epic novels: lengthy novels describing the heroic deeds of a protagonist - or multiple protagonist - who has to go through heavy hardships to achieve happiness in the end. Such novels are expected to feature fights, romance, deaths, both heart-warming and tear-jerking moments, and a deeper meaning, a message. Such novels are expected to make the audience think, laugh and cry, invoke both emotions and rational thinking.
Historical novels are well-liked, and many secular works of literature take inspiration from the Book of Visions.
Common themes of High Elven literature - other than the usual heroic deeds, love and "saving the world" - include the circle of life, accepting that one will grow old and wither away; building a family; the bliss of married life and having children; social life.
Froturn has a flourishing theatre-culture. Most theatre dramas are adaptations of epic literature, or are written according to a similar formula: a hero or heroine has to go through (sometimes literal) hell to "save the world" and live a happy life with his/her love interest - make the audience laugh and cry, make the audience think about the deeper meaning of the plot.
Theatre performances are usually accompanied by instrumental music - sung music is very uncommon in theatres, but not unheard of. Some performances have music during fight scenes, intermezzos and other scenes that don't have a spoken dialogue (other than narration - if they work of fiction has narration in it). Even in performances where the music goes silent when two are more characters are talking, music often accompanies spoken narration. Some performances use music even when characters are talking, to "paint the mood".
The main principle of High Elven music is to be "serious", to lack overly joyful or "funny" overtones, but instead try to be emotional and invoke emotions, as well as make the listener think: this means that High Elven music either has to be "epic", highly melancholic and "depressing" or heart-warming and hope-giving - "funny" music is not tolerated.
Favoured instruments are the harp, psaltery, lyra (pseudo-violin), vielle (pseudo-violin), flute, pan flute, recorder, organ and various types of drums. Many of the bowed and plucked instruments have larger variants to produce a deeper, bass-like sound. While the "bass variants" of those instruments are primarily used for a "supporting role" in most compositions, sometimes they are used alone, especially in particularly sad and depressing songs.
Religious music is usually vocal-only, with no instrumental parts - church organs play the same notes as the vocal parts. Secular music that happens to be inspired by religious music often has separate instrumental parts as well. High Elves enjoy both vocal and instrumental music.
High Elven painting has a peculiar style that makes it unique - namely, the practice of "approximating life from a distance" - paintings are not meant to be photorealistic, but they are meant to be recognizeable representations of what they are supposed to represent/depict and have realistic proportions, with only a few exaggerations tolerated: exaggerating a man's muscles or a female's breasts is tolerated to a certain degree, while exaggerating eyes is very common (it is not uncommon that someone's eyes on a painting take up to 20% of the face, while they should take up less than 6%). Expectations in painting are somewhat contradicting: at one time, paintings are expected to be just as melancholic (or heartwarming, or epic, or depressing) as music is, but at an other time, there is a heavy phobia against grey and dullness, vibrant colours are heavily preferred.
Other than portraits - which is the most common type of painting in Froturn - common themes of paintings include battles, deaths, magic, and nature itself.
When it comes to depiction of actual persons, attitudes towards nudity and sexuality are highly situational. Pictures that depict sexual acts are forbidden from public display but tolerated when at private display, like at someone's home. Risque art - without sexual acts - is usually tolerated in public (but not at religious places) if it is censored or "cartoonish enough" - still, the depiction of genitalia is a taboo, while breasts are acceptable. Usually, "teasing art" - one that involves no nudity, but is still titilating due to the featuring of (or focus on) curves is tolerated everywhere but in religious buildings. Depictions of homosexuality are forbidden, due to the religious attitudes towards it.
Sculpting is also a popular form of art in Froturn, having high prestige - most sculptures happen to be statues. Statues of kings and queens are often used to decorate important buildings.