January 1, 1855: Two New York lawyers, George Bissell and Jonathan Eveleth, form Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company, the first oil company in the United States.
January 6, 1855: A combined force of French and Imperial Chinese troops attack Shanghai, presently held by the Small Sword Society. Through furious fighting, the attackers are driven back.
January 14, 1855: Crimean War: The Diet of the German Confederation votes down an Austrian request for mobilization against Russia.
January 20, 1855: Ernest Amédée Chausson is born at 12 rue Pierre-Chausson in the tenth arrondissment of Paris, the fourth of six children born to Prosper Chausson, a wealthy building contractor, and Stéphanie-Marcelline Levraux (or Levrault), daughter of a notary.
January 21, 1855: The Théâtre de la Monnaie, Brussels, opened in 1819, burns down. See 24 March 1856.
January 23, 1855: A second version of the Overture to Faust WWV 59 by Richard Wagner (41) is performed for the first time, in the Casino Zürich conducted by the composer. See 22 July 1844.
January 23, 1855: The first permanent bridge over the Mississippi River opens to traffic in Minnesota. (Presently the Hennepin Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis)
January 23, 1855: The waltz Panacea-Klänge op.161 and the Souvenir-Polka op.162 by Johann Strauss (29), are performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
January 24, 1855: Grande valse de concert for piano by Georges Bizet (16) is performed for the first time, in Montmartre, Paris by the composer.
January 26, 1855: Crimean War: After long negotiations, particularly with France, Sardinia declares war on Russia and offers 15,000 men for the Crimea.
January 28, 1855: The British House of Commons, including 85 supporters of the government, vote to begin an investigation into the conduct of the war in the Crimea.
January 28, 1855: The Panama Railroad Company of New York begins operating a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama.
January 28, 1855: Anton Bruckner (30) is deemed to have passed the Hauptlehrer-Prüfung, which qualifies him to be a high school teacher.
January 28, 1855: The first performance of Hector Berlioz’ (51) cantata in honor of Napoléon III, Le Dix Décembre, scheduled for the Théâtre-Italien, is cancelled owing to concerns about the war in the Crimea.
January 29, 1855: Leopolderstädter Polka op.168 by Johann Strauss (29) is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
January 30, 1855: Glossen op.163, a waltz by Johann Strauss (29), is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
January 31, 1855: Handels-Elite-Quadrille op.166 by Johann Strauss (29) is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
February 3, 1855: Eugène Rouher replaces Léon Faucher as chief minister of France.
February 3, 1855: Two and a half months after the death of his wife from puerperal fever, Alonzo Calvin Chadwick, father of George Whitefield Chadwick (0) marries his 29-year-old neighbor, Susan Collins in Lowell, Massachusetts.
February 4, 1855: Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston replaces George Hamilton-Gordon, Earl of Aberdeen as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Aberdeen lost support of his own members for his perceived mishandling of the war in the Crimea.
February 7, 1855: A treaty is concluded between Russia and Japan at Shimoda setting out friendly relations, opening Japan to Russian trade, dividing the Kuril Islands between them, and creating joint possession of Sakhalin.
February 9, 1855: Tewodros II replaces Webe Haile Mariam as Emperor of Ethiopia.
February 10, 1855: Giacomo Meyerbeer (63) is awarded the Commander’s Cross of the Albrecht’s Order of Saxony, in Dresden.
February 11, 1855: Ella-Polka op.160 by Johann Strauss (29) is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
February 12, 1855: Sirenen op.164, a waltz by Johann Strauss (29), is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
February 14, 1855: Aurora-Polka op.165 by Johann Strauss (29) is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
February 15, 1855: The French troop ship Sémillante, on its way to Crimea, is driven into the Lavezzi Islands (between Corsica and Sardinia) by a gale. Of the 400 troops and 300 crew aboard, none survive.
February 17, 1855: French and Imperial Chinese forces take Shanghai. The city was held for 17 months by rebels of the Small Sword Society and the active participation of the local populace.
February 17, 1855: Piano Concerto no.1 by Franz Liszt (43) is performed for the first time, in the Ducal Palace, Weimar by the composer at the keyboard and the orchestra directed by Hector Berlioz (51). It is the first of two joint concerts in Weimar, today’s at the ducal court. These two concerts are very successful.
February 17, 1855: Crimean War: Russian forces attack the Turks at Eupatoria (Yevpatoriya), 60 km northwest of Simferopol. The Russians are mauled and forced to retreat. For this, Prince Alyeksandr Sergeyevich Menshikov is removed by Tsar Nikolay as the Russian commander in the Crimea.
February 19, 1855: Man lebt nur einmal! op.167, a waltz in the style of a ländler by Johann Strauss (29), is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
February 20, 1855: This is the date assumed to be the loss of the Guiding Star, a clipper ship out of Liverpool making for Australia with 481 passengers and 62 crew. Last seen in an ice field in the South Pacific, no trace of it has ever been found.
February 22, 1855: Crimean War: French forces attack the Russians at the Mamelon Vert near Sevastopol. They are thrown back with heavy losses.
February 23, 1855: Carl Friedrich Gauss dies in Göttingen at the age of 77.
February 23, 1855: After a year of concertizing in Cuba, Louis Moreau Gottschalk (25) boards a British steamer in Havana bound for Mobile and New Orleans.
February 26, 1855: Bedrich Smetana (30) conducts his Triumphal Symphony in its premiere at Konvikt Hall. It is Smetana’s first appearance in Prague as conductor and pianist.
March 2, 1855: Nikolay I, Tsar of all the Russias, Grand Duke of Finland, King of Poland dies in St. Petersburg and is succeeded by his son, Alyeksandr II.
March 3, 1855: The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives publishes the documents of the Ostend Manifesto regarding US attempts to gain control of Cuba.
March 11, 1855: The body of Tsar Nikolay I is taken from the Winter Palace to the Cathedral of the Fortress of SS. Peter and Paul. Accompanying it are members of the Cadet School, including Modest Musorgsky (15).
March 15, 1855: Crimean War: The Crimean Peace Conference opens in Vienna.
March 17, 1855: Hector Berlioz (51) gives the first of three concerts at the Théâtre du Cirque, Brussels.
March 18, 1855: A suspension bridge spanning Niagara Gorge, designed by Augustus Roebling, is opened to railway traffic.
March 20, 1855: Crimean War: More British warships begin departing home waters for service in the Baltic against Russia.
March 26, 1855: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (25) goes aloft in a hot air balloon piloted by one Godard. They ascend from New Orleans and float north for only six minutes, landing on the tracks of the Pontchartrain Railroad. He is perhaps the first composer to fly. See 1 April 1855.
March 26, 1855: Crimean War: A railroad goes into operation between Balaklava and Sevastopol. It brings siege equipment to the front and removes the wounded to the rear. Thus, it is the first hospital train in history.
March 27, 1855: Nova Scotian Abraham Gesner receives a US patent for kerosene.
March 30, 1855: By the Treaty of Peshawar, Great Britain and Afghanistan unite against Persia.
March 30, 1855: Pierre Jacques François de Decker replaces Henri Ghislain de Brouckère as head of government for Belgium.
March 31, 1855: Charlotte Brontë dies in Haworth, Yorkshire at the age of 38.
April 1, 1855: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (25) ascends in a hot air balloon over New Orleans for a second time in a week. He brings with him a harmonicon, a small keyboard instrument. The balloon takes the same trajectory as the flight of 26 March but this time, Gottschalk composes Pensée poétique. This is the first recorded instance of composition in mid-air. See 26 March 1855.
April 5, 1855: Agnès Street-Klindworth departs Weimar for Brussels. She has been in Weimar since the Autumn of 1853, coming as a promising piano pupil of Franz Liszt (43). Agnès’ true mission was as an intelligence gatherer for her father, Georg Klindworth, spymaster for Prince Metternich of Austria. During her stay she managed to begin a flaming love affair with Liszt, which they will continue by letter after her departure.
April 9, 1855: Crimean War: British and French forces begin an artillery barrage on the Russian defenses at Sevastopol.
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.”
April 11, 1855: La cour de Célimène, an opéra comique by Ambroise Thomas (43) to words of Rosier, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre Favart, Paris.
April 25, 1855: Crimean War: Telegraph messages begin flowing directly from the Crimea to London and Paris. The feat is made possible by the laying of an undersea cable from Balaclava to Varna (Bulgaria), a distance of some 488 km.
April 26, 1855: Believing that French doctors might cure his ailment, Gioachino Rossini (63) and his wife leave Florence for Paris. He will never see Italy again.
April 29, 1855: Giacomo Meyerbeer (63) sees Richard Wagner’s (41) Tannhäuser for the first time, in Hamburg. “The opera itself is incontestably a musical-artistic manifestation of the highest interest. There is indeed a great dearth of melody, an unclarity and a formlessness, but nonetheless great flashes of genius in conception, in orchestral coloring, and in purely musical respects, particularly in the instrumental passages.”
April 30, 1855: A setting of the Te Deum by Hector Berlioz (51) is performed for the first time, at St.-Eustache, Paris coinciding with the opening of the Paris Exposition.
April 30, 1855: Henry Rowley Bishop dies at his home at 13 Cambridge Street in London, United Kingdom, after an operation for bladder cancer, aged 68 years, five months, and twelve days. His remains will be laid to rest in St. Marylebone (East Finchley) Cemetery, London.
May 1, 1855: Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) is separated from New South Wales and made a separate colony.
May 4, 1855: Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha replaces Mustafa Resid Pasha as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
May 4, 1855: Lawyer-journalist William Walker and 58 mercenaries set sail from San Francisco making for Nicaragua. They have been invited by the Liberals of that country to aid them in their current struggle with conservatives.
May 5, 1855: In an insane asylum near Bonn, Robert Schumann (44) writes to his wife Clara (35) for the last time.
May 14, 1855: Jaguarita l’indienne, an opéra comique by Fromental Halévy (55) to words of Saint-Georges and de Leuven, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre-Lyrique, Paris.
May 15, 1855: Emperor Napoléon III opens the Universal Exposition of Paris in the Palais de l’Industrie.
May 15, 1855: Four men steal £12,000 in gold (today about £1,000,000) from a South Eastern Railway train heading from London to Paris. It is considered the first great train robbery.
May 15, 1855: Walt Whitman copyrights Leaves of Grass.
May 21, 1855: British physician Thomas Addison publishes On The Constitutional And Local Effects Of Disease Of The Supra-Renal Capsules in London. It describes the disorder of the adrenal gland which now bears his name.
May 22, 1855: Crimean War: French infantry make a successful assault on Russian defenses at Sevastopol.
May 24, 1855: Crimean War: Allied troops land land near Kerch, Russia and take the town. British, French, and Turkish soldiers then proceed to ransack the place, including important Hellenic artifacts in the Kerch museum. The usual complement of murders and rapes also take place.
May 26, 1855: Franz Liszt (43) arrives in Cologne for the Lower Rhine Music Festival. His true mission is to see his secret lover, Agnès Street-Klindworth. The two spend several days together in Cologne and Düsseldorf.
May 29, 1855: The formal opening of the organ in St. George’s Hall, Liverpool takes place when Samuel Sebastian Wesley (44) gives the first of two recitals.
May 30, 1855: Franz Liszt (43) and Joseph Joachim spend a musical evening at the home of Clara Schumann (35) in Düsseldorf. They play the music of Robert Schumann (44), presently in an insane asylum. Clara tells her diary of Liszt, “But it was so horrible, that my feelings could find an outlet only in tears. How he banged the piano, and what a tempo he took! I was beside myself that His work should be so desecrated in these rooms...” (Williams, 317)
May 31, 1855: The last 500 members of the Taiping expedition to take Peking are captured by Imperial troops. They will be executed.
June 1, 1855: Crimean War: A new French fleet arrives in the Baltic for service against Russia.
June 2, 1855: Jenny Bell, an opéra comique by Daniel Auber (73) to words of Scribe, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre Favart, Paris.
June 4, 1855: Jacques Offenbach (35) is granted a license to open the Salle Lacaze in Paris and produce various types of shows. This theatre will later be known as the Bouffes-Parisiens.
June 4, 1855: Crimean War: The Russian delegation to the peace conference in Vienna refuses all allied demands and walks out.
June 4, 1855: Bijouterie-Quadrille op.169 by Johann Strauss (29) is performed for the first time, in Ungers Casino, Vienna.
June 5, 1855: The Nativist, anti-Catholic Know-Nothing Party opens its first national convention in Philadelphia. They change their name to the American Party.
June 6, 1855: Crimean War: British and French artillery begin another bombardment of the Russian defenses at Sevastopol
June 7, 1855: Crimean War: British and French infantry leave their trenches and assault the Russians at Sevastopol. Both armies achieve their objectives, at the cost of 6,000 casualties.
June 8, 1855: Hector Berlioz (51) and his wife arrive in London for concerts with the New Philharmonic Society.
June 9, 1855: Crimean War: Russia introduces the undersea mine to warfare when they sink two British ships off Kronstadt.
June 10, 1855: Heinrich August Marschner (59) marries his fourth wife, Theresa Janda, a 28-year-old singer, in Hannover.
June 11, 1855: Queen Victoria and Prince Albert attend the sixth of Richard Wagner’s (42) seven philharmonic concerts in London. The composer visits with the royal couple in their box at intermission. They request an encore to the overture to Tannhäuser.
June 12, 1855: An act to limit Chinese immigration into the Colony of Victoria is given royal assent.
June 13, 1855: Les Vépres siciliennes, an opéra by Giuseppe Verdi (41) to words of Scribe and Duveyrier, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra. Presented during the Paris Exposition, it enjoys a good success.
June 13, 1855: L’inconsolable, an opéra comique by Fromental Halévy (56) under the pseudonym Alberti, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre-Lyrique, Paris.
June 15, 1855: Queen Victoria grants royal assent to the Newspaper Stamp Act. It removes the last duty on newspapers and ushers in the mass media.
June 16, 1855: William Walker and his mercenaries arrive at Realejo, Nicaragua. They are greeted by Liberal leader Francisco Castellón who exalts Walker to the rank of colonel.
June 16, 1855: Crimean War: Advance elements of the main Russian army attack Kars, testing its defenses. The Russians will shortly settle in for a lengthy siege.
June 17, 1855: Crimean War: British and French artillery resume the attack on the Russians at Sevastopol.
June 18, 1855: Crimean War: On a date signifying Anglo-French solidarity, the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, British and French forces launch a general assault on the Russian defenders of Sevastopol. The offensive is bungled by allied military leaders, costs 5,000 casualties, and ends in retreat.
June 18, 1855: The first locks of the Sault Ste. Marie canal open making a navigable link between Lake Superior and lake Huron. This makes the Great Lakes completely navigable.
June 25, 1855: Before Richard Wagner’s (42) last concert in London, Hector Berlioz (51) dines with him. Afterwards they retire to Wagner’s lodgings and drink together until 03:00. It is the third time in two weeks that they have been together and they seem to part great friends, with promises to exchange future scores.
June 28, 1855: Crimean War: The British commander in the Crimea, Fitzroy James Henry Somerset, Baron Raglan dies at the age of 66 of natural causes.
June 29, 1855: The North American mercenaries under William Walker attack Rivas, Nicaragua. They fight their way into the town and then, finding themselves surrounded, fight their way back out again. They lose twelve killed and ten wounded.
July 1, 1855: Nachtveilchen op.170, a polka mazur by Johann Strauss (29), is performed for the first time, in Ungers Casino.
July 2, 1855: Frisch auf, zu neuem Leben for male chorus by Franz Liszt (43) to words of Hoffmann von Fallersleben, is performed for the first time, in Weimar.
July 4, 1855: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman is published in Brooklyn at the poet’s expense. It is not a financial success.
July 5, 1855: Jacques Offenbach (36) rents the Théâtre Marigny on the Champs Elysées to put on a program of comedy sketches by a group under the title Bouffes-Parisiens. Performed for the first time are Offenbach’s: Entrez, messieurs, mesdames to words of Mery and Halévy (under the pseudonym Servières), Les deux aveugles, a bouffonerie musicale to words of Moinaux, Une nuit blanche, an opéra-comique to words of Plouvier, and the ballet Arlequin barbier to a scenario by Placet after Rossini. They are very successful through the Paris Exhibition.
July 7, 1855: Hector Berlioz (51) departs London having been offered musical directorship of a series of concerts to be held at Crystal Palace. He will eventually decline the offer.
July 16, 1855: Queen Victoria gives royal assent to acts establishing representative government across Australia, except for Western Australia.
July 17, 1855: Auf, Brüder, auf! Und die Saiten zur Hand, a cantata for male soloists, male chorus, chorus, woodwinds, and brass by Anton Bruckner (30) to words of Marinelli, is performed for the first time, at St. Florian.
July 17, 1855: Freuden-Salven op.171, a waltz by Johann Strauss (29), is performed for the first time, at the Volksgarten, Vienna.
July 30, 1855: Two works by Jacques Offenbach (36) are performed for the first time, by the Bouffes-Parisiens at Salle Marigny: Le rêve d’une nuit d’été to words of Tréfeu, and the ballet Pierrot clown to a scenario by Jackson.
August 1, 1855: King Georg V of Hannover abolishes changes in the 1848 constitution which limited the powers of the nobility.
August 1, 1855: Eight British and Swiss climbers reach the summit of Monte Rosa, Switzerland the second highest point in the Alps (4,634 m)
August 4, 1855: A Collection of Familiar Quotations by Cambridge bookseller John Bartlett is published for the first time, in Boston.
August 7, 1855: Oyayaye, ou La reine des îles, an anthropophagie musicale by Jacques Offenbach (36) to words of Moinaux, is performed for the first time, at the Folies-Nouvelles, Paris.
August 9, 1855: Mexican liberals (Juaristas) defeat loyalist troops at Acapulco.
August 9, 1855: Crimean War: British and French warships attack Sveaborg (Suomenlinna) south of Helsinki. Fort Vargon explodes in a massive eruption. Citizens of Helsinki begin fleeing the city, certain an invasion is at hand.
August 10, 1855: Crimean War: British and French warships end their bombardment of Sveaborg (Suomenlinna). The island is no longer a useful base for the Russian fleet. The allies will shortly depart.
August 16, 1855: Crimean War: Russian forces at Sevastopol attack the allies at Chorny Rechka but they are repulsed by French and Sardinians. The day’s fighting leaves 10,000 casualities.
August 17, 1855: Mexican generalissimo Antonio López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón boards ship in Veracruz for a second exile in Venezuela. He is replaced as President by Martín Carrera Sabat.
August 17, 1855: Crimean War: Allied artillery resumes the bombardment of Sevastopol. It will continue through the end of the month.
August 18, 1855: A concordat between Austria and the Vatican gives Austrian clergy control of education, censorship, and matrimonial law.
August 31, 1855: Le violoneux, a légende bretonne by Jacques Offenbach (36) to words of Mestépès and Chevalet, is performed for the first time, by the Bouffes-Parisiens at the Salle Marigny, Paris.
September 8, 1855: Crimean War: The final Anglo-French-Sardinian assault of Sevastopol begins. The Russians retreat across a pontoon bridge to the north side of the city, where they set up strong defensive positions. The Allies take the southern part of town. The fighting leaves 24,000 casualties.
September 10, 1855: Doctors attending Robert Schumann (45) in an insane asylum near Bonn declare that he will never recover completely. He is becoming incoherent and delusional.
September 11, 1855: Crimean War: After a two-day fire, allied troops are finally able to enter and secure Sevastopol.
September 12, 1855: Rómulo Díaz de la Vega replaces Martín Carrera Sabat as President of Mexico.
September 13, 1855: Victoire, a cantata by Adolphe Adam (52) to words of Carré, is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
September 16, 1855: King Pedro V of Portugal reaches his 18th birthday and the regency is ended.
September 19, 1855: Jacques Offenbach’s (36) ballet Polichenelle dans le monde to a scenario by Busnach is performed for the first time, by the Bouffes-Parisiens at Salle Marigny, Paris.
September 26, 1855: Fantasie und Fuge über den Choral ‘Ad nos, ad salutarem undam’ for organ by Franz Liszt (43) is performed for the first time, at the inauguration of a new organ at Merseburg Cathedral.
September 26, 1855: The first steam railway in Australia opens between Sydney and Parramatta.
September 29, 1855: Crimean War: Russians assault the Turkish positions at Kars but after a seven-hour battle they are driven off.
Allied commanders at Sevastopol agree to the removal of Turkish troops to be sent to the relief of Kars.
October 4, 1855: Juan Álvarez replaces Rómulo Díaz de la Vega as interim President of Mexico.
October 9, 1855: A US patent is issued to Joshua Stoddard of Worcester, Massachusetts for a steam calliope.
October 11, 1855: Demetrios Georgiou Voulgaris replaces Alexandros Nikolaou Mavrokordatos as Prime Minister of Greece.
October 13, 1855: Trio for piano and strings no.1 op.8 by Johannes Brahms (22) is performed for the first time, in Danzig (Gdansk).
October 13, 1855: William Walker and his mercenaries capture Granada, Nicaragua, the capital of the conservative elements, which is virtually undefended. By holding the leading conservative families hostage, he is able to force surrenders.
October 15, 1855: Gedanken auf den Alpen op.172, a waltz by Johann Strauss (29), is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
October 16, 1855: Crimean War: British and French forces land unopposed on the Kinburn Peninsula, southwest of Kherson.
October 17, 1855: Henry Bessemer receives the second, and perhaps most important, of 13 UK patents for his steel making process.
October 17, 1855: Le houzard de Berchini, an opera by Adolphe Adam (52) to words of Rosier, is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
October 17, 1855: Crimean War: After a naval bombardment, the Russian forts of Kinburn and Ochakov surrender to British and French forces.
October 18, 1855: The symphonic poem Prometheus by Franz Liszt (43) is performed for the first time, in Braunschweig, under the direction of the composer. See 24 August 1850.
October 19, 1855: Hans von Bülow conducts the first performance in Berlin of the Overture and Venusberg music from Richard Wagner’s (42) Tannhäuser. Present are Franz Liszt (43) and his two daughters. The conclusion of the music is met with hisses and boos. In his dressing room, von Bülow collapses and faints from the strain. At 02:00 he is well enough for Liszt to force him out and back to his hotel. Cosima Liszt is waiting for him. The two stay up all night talking, and confess their love for each other.
October 20, 1855: Crimean War: A small French force attacks a larger Russian force at Eupatoria (Yevpatoriya) forcing it to flee. The French do not follow up their victory.
October 23, 1855: Anti-slavery residents of the Territory of Kansas adopt a new constitution at Topeka outlawing slavery.
October 24, 1855: The new colony of Van Diemen’s Land is renamed Tasmania.
October 29, 1855: Paimpol et Périnette, a saynète lyrique by Jacques Offenbach (36) to words of de Forges, is performed for the first time, by the Bouffes-Parisiens at Salle Marigny, Paris.
November 3, 1855: David Livingstone departs Linyanti on the Zambezi, heading east for the coast.
November 10, 1855: The Song of Hiawatha, a book-length poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, is published in Boston.
November 11, 1855: An earthquake centered near Edo (Tokyo) kills 7,000 people and creates a tsunami. Over two sq km of Edo are destroyed by the earthquake or the fire it caused. 50,000 houses are destroyed.
November 11, 1855: Søren Kierkegaard dies in Copenhagen at the age of 42.
November 12, 1855: Anklänge op.7/3, a song by Johannes Brahms (22) to words of Eichendorff, is performed for the first time, in Göttingen.
November 13, 1855: An organ tuner arriving at St. Florian tells Anton Bruckner (31) that there is to be a preliminary competition for the post of cathedral organist in Linz today. Bruckner is reluctant to attend but is convinced by others. His performance is so outstanding that he will be named the winner tomorrow. See 25 January 1856.
November 13, 1855: Incidental music to von Rodenberg’s play Waldmüllers Margret by Heinrich August Marschner (60) is performed for the first time, in Hannover.
November 14, 1855: Sarabande in a minor WoO 5/1 posth. for piano by Johannes Brahms (22) is performed for the first time, in Danzig (Gdansk), by the composer.
November 14, 1855: Crimean War: The Austrian Foreign Minister, Count Karl Ferdinand de Buol-Schauenstein, and the French ambassador in Vienna, François-Adolphe de Bourqueney sign a preliminary peace plan for the Crimea. It calls for the elimination of Russian right of defense of the Danube principalities, and a change in border there, freedom of navigation for the Danube, and demilitarization of the Black Sea.
November 15, 1855: Hector Berlioz’ (51) cantata L’imperiale for double chorus and orchestra to words of Lafont is performed for the first time, at the close of the Paris Exposition in the Palais de l’Industrie. The composer conducts with the assistance of five others. Halfway through the piece, Emperor Napoléon III, on a royal throne, gives the signal for the music to stop. It does.
November 16, 1855: British explorer David Livingstone becomes the first non-African to see Victoria Falls, which he names after his queen.
November 16, 1855: In the Palais de l’Industrie, Hector Berlioz’ (51) cantata L’imperiale is performed completely for the first time, as is the entire intended concert of yesterday. An audience in the thousands, which does not include Emperor Napoléon III, is very appreciative.
November 20, 1855: Crimean War: The British cabinet accepts the peace proposal of 14 November.
November 21, 1855: Crimean War: Sweden declares war on Russia.
November 23, 1855: Responsible government goes into effect in the Colony of Victoria.
November 23, 1855: The Ley Juárez is enacted in Mexico. It is the first of a series of reform laws. It restricts the use of special military and religious courts in special cases, thus limiting the power of these institutions.
November 26, 1855: Crimean War: After a long siege, the Turkish city of Kars capitulates to the Russians.
November 29, 1855: Messe Solennelle de Sainte Cécile for soloists, chorus, orchestra and organ by Charles Gounod (37) is performed for the first time, in the Church of Saint-Eustache, Paris to critical acclaim.
December 2, 1855: The Théâtre des Jeunes Élèves is handed over to Jacques Offenbach (36). It is renamed the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens.
December 3, 1855: Trio for piano and strings by Bedrich Smetana (31) is performed for the first time, in Konvikt Hall, Prague.
December 3, 1855: The 34th Congress of the United States convenes in Washington. The Democratic Party retains its majority in the Senate, while the House of Representatives is thrown into confusion. Both the Democrats and Whigs lost seats to the new American (Know-Nothing) Party and the Republican Party. The final tally is 84 Democratic, 62 American, 60 Whig, 46 Republican. Republican Nathaniel P. Banks becomes Speaker of the House.
December 5, 1855: Tsar Alyeksandr II ends the limit on the number of university students in Russia.
December 6, 1855: A setting of Psalm 13 for tenor, chorus, and orchestra by Franz Liszt (44) is performed for the first time, in the Berlin Singakademie, conducted by the composer. The hall is completely filled, including King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and Queen Elisabeth. While Liszt is in Berlin, he continues his secret tryst with Agnès Street-Klindworth.
December 8, 1855: Anton Bruckner (31) performs at mass for the first time as Dom-und- Stadtpfarrkirchen-Organist in Linz, for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
December 10, 1855: James Clerk Maxwell’s paper “On Faraday’s Lines of Force” is read today before the Cambridge Philosophical Society. He shows that Faraday’s lines do in fact exist.