December 24, 1824: Carl August Peter Cornelius is born in Mainz, in the Grand Duchy of Hessen, fourth of six children born to Carl Joseph Gerhard Cornelius and Friederike Schradtke, both actors.
October 3, 1841: The String Quartet in C W.6 by Peter Cornelius (16) is performed for the first time, in Wiesbaden.
August 23, 1842: Oratorio serioso disharmonico W.13 for vocal trio and piano by Peter Cornelius (17) to his own words is performed for the first time, for his mother’s birthday, in Wiesbaden.
February 19, 1844: Violin Sonata W.33 by Peter Cornelius (19) is performed for the first time, in Wiesbaden, the composer at the piano.
June 28, 1850: Fest-Hymne W.92 for male chorus and orchestra by Peter Cornelius (25) to words of Rellstab is performed for the first time, in a festival concert at the Royal Opera House, Berlin on the recovery of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV from an attempted assassination.
June 15, 1853: On a day of celebration for the silver jubilee of the reign of Grand Duke Carl Friedrich, Johannes Brahms (20) meets Franz Liszt (41) and Peter Cornelius (28) at Altenburg, the mansion of Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein in Weimar. Brahms is too nervous to play any of his music so Liszt reads the e flat minor scherzo from manuscript. Liszt comments as he plays. Brahms is overwhelmed, but later appears to doze while Liszt plays his own works.
November 4, 1853: Peter Cornelius (28) moves into the Altenburg in Weimar at the invitation of Princess Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein.
December 1, 1853: La fuite en Egypte, a mystère ancien for tenor, chorus, and orchestra by Hector Berlioz (49) to his own words, is performed completely for the first time, in Leipzig conducted by the composer. Of all the cities he performs in during this tour, Leipzig gives Berlioz’ music the coolest reception. In the audience are Franz Liszt (42) and Peter Cornelius (28). After the performance, these and other musicians take Berlioz to a restaurant to cheer him up. They are soon joined by Johannes Brahms (20) who just arrived in the city after the concert. See 12 November 1850 and 30 May 1853.
December 10, 1853: Hector Berlioz gives one of many very successful concerts at the Leipzig Gewandhaus. A reception hosted by Franz Liszt (42) after the performance includes Johannes Brahms (20), Peter Cornelius (28), Ferdinand David, and several other eminent musicians. The Pauliner Singers serenade him beneath his hotel window. Tomorrow is his 50th birthday.
December 12, 1853: Peter Cornelius (28) writes from Weimar, “From the moment I met [Liszt] (42) he has not ceased to be the kindest and most active friend, giving me every day further opportunities of becoming still better acquainted with the noblest heart ever to beat in an artist’s breast. Carried by the overwhelming might of his genius, and by it alone, to a position in the world far above the misery which is generally the lot of artists, it is one of the chief objects of his life, so far as it lies within his power, to give everywhere a helping hand to unrecognized genius or talent.” (Williams, 301)
November 20, 1854: The first meeting of the Neu-Weimar-Verein takes place at the Russischer Hof. Charter members include Franz Liszt (43) and Peter Cornelius (29), as well as out-of-town members Hector Berlioz (50), Hans von Bülow, Joseph Joachim, and Richard Wagner (41). The purpose of the association is to further the music of the more radical Romantics: Berlioz, Wagner, Liszt, and others.
April 9, 1855: Giacomo Meyerbeer (63) is awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Order of the Ernestine House (first class with star) by Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha personally. He then takes a train for Weimar to see Robert Schumann’s (44) opera Genoveva there. He tries to go to the theatre incognito in order to avoid meeting Franz Liszt (43) but is discovered by Peter Cornelius (30) who tells Liszt. He is obliged by his old nemesis to view the opera in the box of Princess Wittgenstein. He finds Genoveva “totally without melodies, badly written for the voices, unclear and ponderous; and yet with many interesting harmonic and orchestral details, and occasional flashes of genial conception.”
December 15, 1858: Der Barbier von Bagdad, a comic opera by Peter Cornelius (33) to his own words, is performed for the first time, in the Weimar Hoftheater conducted by Franz Liszt (47). Although the work and performance are excellent, there are noisy demonstrations in the audience which Liszt takes to be against him. In the face of this, he will resign his post of Grand Ducal Director of Music Extraordinary at Weimar.
May 21, 1865: Der Cid, a lyrisches Drama by Peter Cornelius (40) to his own words after de Castro, Corneille, and Herder, is performed for the first time, in the Weimar Hoftheater.
May 6, 1891: Gunlöd, an opera by Peter Cornelius (†16) to his own words, finished by Hoffbauer, is performed for the first time, in the Hoftheater, Weimar.