Music Events During the Classical Period

1750 to 1820

Steel engraving of composer Mozart and Beethoven from 1882
Steel engraving of composer Mozart and Beethoven from 1882. Grafissimo / Getty Images

The music of the Classical period, which spans from 1750 to 1820, is characterized by simpler melodies and forms such as the sonatas. The piano was undoubtedly the primary instrument used by composers during this period. Here's a timeline of important events in music history which happened during the 1750s all the way to 1820.

  • 1750 - Johann Sebastian Bach died. Also, in chamber music, the string quartet (consists of 2 violins, viola, and cello) was popular. In New York, John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera" was performed.
  • 1751 - In Europe, the minuet was a popular dance.
  • 1752 - The composer and piano prodigy, Muzio Clementi was born.
  • 1753 - Italian composer and violinist, Giovanni Viotti, was born.
  • 1756 - The Austrian composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, was born.
  • 1757 - The Italian composers Niccolo Pasquali and Domenico Scarlatti passed away. Johann Stamitz, a German composer also died.
  • 1759 - Baroque composer George Frederic Handel passed away.
  • 1761 - Franz Joseph Haydn, an important figure in Classical music history, worked as Kapellmeister for Prince Pál Antal Esterházy. Haydn was instrumental in establishing the symphony and string quartet.
  • 1762 - Benjamin Franklin improved the glass harmonica. In Charleston, South Carolina, a musical group called St. Cecilia Society was founded. Now aged 6, music prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart toured Europe. Also, "Orfeo ed Euridice" by Christoph Willibald Gluck was created.
  • 1764 - Johann Christian Bach performed in London. Also, Mozart wrote his first symphony.
  • 1767 - German composer Georg Philipp Telemann passed away. CPE Bach succeeded him as director of church music in Hamburg.
  • 1769 - Junipero Sérra led a group of Franciscan friars on a mission to teach Native Americans polyphony and plainsong.
  • 1770 - German composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born. Also, the New England Psalm Singer, the first collection of music composed in America, was published by William Billings. In New York, Handel's "Messiah," was first performed. Meanwhile, Johann Christian Bach published his "6 Concerti for pianoforte," Op. 7.
  • 1773 - In Vienna, the waltz was popular.
  • 1776 - La Scala, a major opera venue was built in Milan. Also, a book on the history of music was published by Charles Burney.
  • 1778 - Ludwig van Beethoven was presented by his father as a music prodigy. Also, La Scala opened.
  • 1780 - Sebastiano Carezo invented the Spanish dance called "bolero."
  • 1781 - The great classical musician, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, moved to Vienna where he created some of his most popular works.
  • 1782 - Johann Christian Bach passed away. Also, Italian composer and violinist Niccolo Paganini was born.
  • 1784 - Wilhelm Freidemann Bach passed away.
  • 1786 - In Vienna, Mozart's " The Marriage of Figaro," premiered. Also, German composer Carl Maria von Weber was born.
  • 1787 - Mozart's father, Leopold, passed away. In Prague, Mozart's "Don Giovanni," premiered.
  • 1788 - CPE Bach passed away.
  • 1790 - In Vienna, Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," premiered.
  • 1791 - Austrian composer, Carl Czerny, and German composer, Giacomo Meyerbeer, were born. In Vienna, Mozart's "Magic Flute," was first performed. Mozart also passed away on the same year. Also, Haydn's first London Symphonies was performed.
  • 1792 - Haydn becomes Beethoven's teacher. Also, Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini was born.
  • 1793 - Niccolo Paganini debuted as a violin virtuoso at age 11.
  • 1795 - The Paris Conservatory of Music was founded.
  • 1797 - Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti and Austrian composer Franz Schubert were born.
  • 1801 - Beethoven's "Symphony #1 in C Major" was first performed in Vienna.
  • 1803 - The master of orchestration, Louis-Hector Berlioz, was born.
  • 1809 - Felix Mendelssohn, one of the most prolific composers of the Romantic period, was born.
  • 1810 - On this year, two great Romantic composers were born; Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin and Robert Schumann
  • 1811 - The figurehead of the New German school and the piano virtuoso Franz Liszt was born.
  • 1813 - The German Composer Richard Wagner was born. That same year, Giuseppe Verdi, another composer of opera music, was born. Another major event happened on this year, E.T.A. Hoffmann proposed his idea of "the artist as spiritual hero" which became an important theme during the Romantic period.
  • 1818 - The French composer, Charles Gounod, was born.
  • 1819 - Clara Wieck Schumann, the foremost female composer of the 19th century, was born.