Musical Timeline of the 20th Century

Johnny Cash Performing
Country singer/songwriter Johnny Cash performs onstage with an acoustic guitar in 1957. Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
  • 1900 - In Helsinki, Jean Sibelius' Finlandia premiered and in Rome, Giacomo Puccini's opera Tosca premiered.
  • 1901 - In Munich, Gustav Mahler's Fourth Symphony debuts.
  • 1902 - In London, Enrico Caruso's debut singing in Rigoletto. That same year, Claude DeBussy introduced the concept of impressionism through his work Pelléas and Mélisande at the Opéra Comique in Paris.
  • 1903 - Pope Pius X helped restore the importance of Gregorian Chant in the Catholic church.
  • 1904 - The London Symphony Orchestra was founded.
  • 1906 - Interest in the music of central Europe was sparked by the publication of a book called Hungarian Folk Songs by Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly.
  • 1908 - Arnold Schoenberg published Book of Hanging Gardens which introduced the concept of dissonance.
  • 1909 - Arnold Schoenberg composed his atonal works Opus 11, No. 1, and Five Orchestral Pieces, Opus 16.
  • 1910 - Igor Stravinsky finished his work The Firebird.
  • 1911 - In Dresden, Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier premiered.
  • 1913 - At the Théâtre des Champs Élysées, a riot ensued during the premiere of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring.
  • 1914 - The Irish composer Victor Herbert helped to establish the American Society of Composers, Arrangers, and Producers (ASCAP).
  • 1916 - Charles Ives completed his Fourth Symphony.
  • 1918 - In Riga, the Latvian National Opera was founded.
  • 1919 - Chicago was jazz capital and Arnold Schoenberg introduced the concept of serialism; a composition where a melodic line is repeated.
  • 1921 - Arnold Schoenberg composed his Piano Suite, Opus 25 which was his first 12-tone work.
  • 1922 - The British Broadcasting Corporation was established.
  • 1924 - In New York, Julliard School opened and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue premiered. In Paris, Maurice Ravel's Bolero opened.
  • 1925 - In Berlin, Alban Berg's Wozzeck premiered. In Nashville, Tennessee. the Grand Ole Opry was founded.
  • 1928 - In Berlin, Die Dreigroschenoper by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill premiered.
  • 1933 - ​18-year-old Billie Holiday creates her first recordings. 
  • 1934 - In Lenox, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Music Festival began.
  • 1935 - Jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald starts her career with the Chick Webb orchestra.
  • 1936 - The debut of electric guitars.
  • 1937 - In Basel, Bela Bartok's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta premiered and in New York, the Glenn Miller Band debuts.
  • 1938 - Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber premiered.
  • 1939 - The Nat King Cole Trio was formed. Charles Parker moved to New York and performed with Dizzy Gillespie and other jazz musicians.
  • 1940 - Frank Sinatra established himself as a solo performer.
  • 1942 - The release of Bing Crosby's "White Christmas."
  • 1944 - Premiere of Appalachian Spring, a ballet by Aaron Copland. Also, Dizzy Gillespie founded the "bop" orchestra. In London, Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes premiered.
  • 1946 - Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein worked on an opera about women's suffrage called Louisiana Story.
  • 1947 - Louis Armstrong formed his All Stars jazz ensemble. Also, Oklahoma by Rodgers and Hammerstein opened on Broadway.
  • 1948 - The 33 1/3 LP, or long-playing album, was introduced by Columbia Records. Also, Charlie Parker experimented with "bebop" and Bill Monroe invented bluegrass music.
  • 1949 - Mahalia Jackson won in the French Academy's Grand Prix du Disc.
  • 1951 - String Quartet #1 by Elliot Carter was first performed and NBC hires  Gian Carlo Menotti to write  Amahl and the Night Visitors, the first opera for television.
  • 1953 - Stockhausen composed Karlheinz Stockhausen's Elektronische Studie I, the first composition using sine wave sounds.
  • 1954 - Bill Haley and the Comets venture into the rock n' roll music form.
  • 1956 - Elvis Presley establishes himself as the icon of rock n' roll.
  • 1957 - In New York, West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein premiered. Also, Johnny Cash established his stature as a country music artist.
  • 1959 - Grammy Awards was sponsored by The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with Frank Sinatra winning Best Album for "Come Dance with Me." In London, the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields was founded by Neville Marriner. Also, Berry Gordy, Jr. founded the Motown Recording Corporation.
  • 1960 - John Coltrane, with his newly formed quartet, fans the flames of the New Thing in jazz.
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Your Citation
Estrella, Espie. "Musical Timeline of the 20th Century." ThoughtCo, Aug. 23, 2017, Estrella, Espie. (2017, August 23). Musical Timeline of the 20th Century. Retrieved from Estrella, Espie. "Musical Timeline of the 20th Century." ThoughtCo. (accessed October 17, 2017).