January 8, 1812: Sigismond Fortuné François Thalberg is born in Pâquis near Geneva, in the Swiss Confederation (presently a protectorate of France), the son of Joseph Thalberg and Fortunée Stein. It is possible that his parents are presently married to others. Some think he may be the illegitimate child of Prince Franz Josef Johann Dietrichstein-Proskau-Leslie and Baroness Julie d'Eyb Bidescuty von Wetzlar.
January 28, 1837: Today marks the first of four concerts given by Franz Liszt (25) in Paris “to make known the works of the grande école of the piano, too often disfigured by incompetent executants.” This presumably refers to Sigismond Thalberg (25). The four performances will be a critical triumph.
March 12, 1837: Sigismond Thalberg (25) gives a concert at the Paris Conservatoire. It is a great success.
March 25, 1838: A review by Ernest Legouvé of a performance by Frédéric Chopin (28) in Rouen appears in the Revue et Gazette musicale, Paris. Referring to the contest a year ago he writes, “In future when the question is asked, ‘Who is the greatest pianist in Europe, Liszt (26) or Thalberg (26)?’, let the world reply ‘It is Chopin!’” See 31 March 1837.
April 12, 1838: Franz Liszt (26) plays some of his music, and that of Czerny (47) at the home of piano maker Conrad Graf in Vienna. There to witness it are Friedrich and Clara Wieck (18) who are extremely, though not universally, impressed. Liszt writes to Marie d’Agoult, “She is a very simple person, entirely preoccupied with her art, but nobly and without childishness. She was flabbergasted when she heard me. Her compositions are truly most remarkable, especially for a woman. They have a hundred times more invention and real feeling than all the past and present fantasies of Thalberg (26)” (Williams, 101)
April 18, 1838: Franz Liszt (26) appears in a Vienna concert to benefit victims of recent floods in Pest. He is an enormous success. “Recalled 15 to 18 times. A packed house. Universal amazement. Thalberg (26) hardly exists at the moment in the memory of the Viennese. Never have I had such a success.” (Williams, 102)
January 19, 1842: An advertisement for a new “Beethoven-Album” for piano by the Vienna music publisher Pietro Mechetti appears in the Wiener Zeitung. Intended to raise money for a monument to Beethoven (†14) in Bonn, Mechetti has secured contributions from many of the most important living composers: Nocturne in E flat op.647 by Carl Czerny (50), L’echo! Scherzo brillant by Frédéric Kalkbrenner (46), 17 Variations sérieuses op.54 by Felix Mendelssohn (32), Prélude in c sharp minor op.45 by Frédéric Chopin (31), Marche funèbre de la Symphonie héroique by Franz Liszt (30), Romance sans paroles op.41/1 by Sigismond Thalberg (30), Wiegenlied op.13/1 by Adolf von Henselt (27), as well as music by Theodor Döhler, Ignaz Moscheles and Wilhelm Taubert.
July 22, 1843: Sigismond Thalberg (31) marries Francesca Lablache in St. James’ Picadilly, London. She is the daughter of the opera singer Luigi Lablache and the widow of the painter François Bouchot.
July 3, 1851: Florinda, an opera by Sigismond Thalberg (39), is performed for the first time, in London. It is not well received.
October 3, 1856: Sigismond Thalberg (44) arrives in New York aboard the steamship Africa for an extended tour of North America.
November 10, 1856: Sigismond Thalberg (44) gives his first concert in the United States, at Niblo’s Saloon, New York. Originally scheduled for 20 October, it was postponed due to the presidential election. He will perform five or six nights a week for the next eight months.
December 16, 1856: The first concert by Sigismond Thalberg (44) in Washington is attended by President Franklin Pierce.
December 17, 1856: President Franklin Pierce welcomes Sigismond Thalberg (44) to the White House for a private reception. The president signs Thalberg’s autograph book.
January 3, 1857: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow attends Sigismond Thalberg’s (44) first concert in Boston and the two meet afterwards. Longfellow finds him quite likeable.
January 2, 1858: A grand “farewell concert” is given for and by Sigismond Thalberg (45) at the Academy of Music, New York. It includes four separate concerts: an opera, an orchestral performance, Thalberg and others, and Mozart’s (†66) Requiem. Thalberg premieres his Variations on Lilly Dale op.74. It is so successful it will be repeated in two days.
June 12, 1858: Sigismond Thalberg (46) plays his last concert in North America, in Peoria, Illinois. In the last 21 months, Thalberg has performed over 300 times in 79 cities.
April 27, 1871: Sigismond Fortuné François Thalberg dies at the villa of his father-in-law, Luigi Lablache, on Via Posillipo in Posillipo, near Naples, Kingdom of Italy, aged 59 years, three months, and 19 days. His mortal remains will be laid to rest in the Cimitero Monumentale di Poggioreale, Naples.