January 1, 1838: A setting of Psalm 42 for solo voices, chorus, orchestra, and organ by Felix Mendelssohn (28) is performed for the first time, in the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
January 3, 1838: Representative John Quincy Adams introduces 100 petitions into the House advocating the abolition of slavery.
January 5, 1838: US President Martin Van Buren declares neutrality in the current Canadian rebellion and warns citizens not to aid either side.
January 6, 1838: Samuel FB Morse first demonstrates his telegraph, in Morristown, New Jersey.
January 6, 1838: Le fidèle berger, an opera by Adolphe Adam (34) to words of Scribe and Saint-Georges, is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
January 9, 1838: Canadian rebels begin shelling the town of Amherstburg, Upper Canada from a schooner they commandeered in Lake Erie. Canadian militia manage to disable and board the ship and take the rebels into custody.
January 9, 1838: The Wiener Zeitschrift publishes a poem by Grillparzer inspired by a performance of Beethoven’s (†10) Appasionata Sonata by Clara Wieck (18).
January 10, 1838: During the night of 10-11 January, the Royal Exchange in London is destroyed by fire. The building also houses the offices of the Lord Mayor.
January 13, 1838: William Lyon Mackenzie, leader of the Canadian insurrection, is arrested in Buffalo and charged with violating the neutrality of the United States. He is released on bail.
January 14, 1838: Not long after a performance of Mozart’s (†46) Don Giovanni, the Salle Favart and all the assets of its resident company, the Théâtre-Italien, burn to the ground. The Italian director Carlo Severini dies when he jumps from the burning building.
January 15, 1838: Navy Island in the Niagara River is reoccupied by loyal British troops.
January 15, 1838: Representative John Quincy Adams introduces 50 petitions into the House advocating the abolition of slavery.
January 28, 1838: Representative John Quincy Adams introduces 31 petitions into the House advocating the abolition of slavery.
January 30, 1838: Seminole war chief Osceola dies in prison at Fort Moultrie, South Carolina. The post doctor removes his head to keep as a trophy.
January 30, 1838: Maria di Rudenz, a dramma tragico by Gaetano Donizetti (40) to words of Cammarano after Bourgeois, Cuvelier, and de Mallian, is performed for the first time, in Teatro La Fenice, Venice. The audience reaction is so poor that the work receives only one more performance.
February 4, 1838: In today’s issue of Revue et Gazette Musicale, Heinrich Heine calls Frédéric Chopin (27) “a poet of sound.”
February 6, 1838: Boers and their servants under Pieter Retief, about 100 in all, are captured and killed by Zulus with clubs at Kwa Matiwane Hill, Natal.
February 14, 1838: Representative John Quincy Adams introduces 350 petitions into the House advocating the abolition of slavery.
February 16, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (27) plays for the royal family in Paris. He is very well received.
February 17, 1838: Zulus attack Boer settlements along the Tugela River, killing about 300 along with 200 black servants.
February 19, 1838: Der Bäbu, a komische Oper by Heinrich August Marschner (42) to words of Wohlbrück, is performed for the first time, in the Hannover Hoftheater. Despite the unheated opera house and freezing weather, the opera is a resounding success.
February 22, 1838: In Vermont, rebel leader Robert Nelson produces the Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada.
February 24, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (27) plays before King Louis-Philippe in Paris, to great success. The monarch presents the pianist with a gift.
February 27, 1838: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (32) performs as piano soloist in public for the first time, at a charity concert in the Berlin Schauspielhaus. She plays her brother’s Piano Concerto in g minor.
February 28, 1838: About 300-400 rebels, led by Robert Nelson, invade Lower Canada from Vermont. They are pushed back into the US.
March 1, 1838: Symphony no.5 by Louis Spohr (53) is performed for the first time, in Vienna to raves from public and press.
March 3, 1838: British troops attack Canadian rebels and their American sympathizers holding Pelee Island in Lake Erie. After a spirited defense, the irregulars are overwhelmed.
March 5, 1838: Guido et Ginevra, ou La peste de Florence, an opéra by Fromental Halévy (38) to words of Scribe, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra.
March 7, 1838: Jenny Lind makes her debut in Stockholm in a performance of Carl Maria von Weber’s (†11) Der Freischütz.
March 8, 1838: Le Figaro publishes criticisms of Fromental Halévy (38). They see conflict in his simultaneous roles as composer and casting director of the Opéra. He is charged with using the Opéra to promote his own music at the expense of others. They call for his resignation.
March 9, 1838: Gustaf Nils Algernon Stierneld replaces Count Adolf Göran Mörner as Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden.
March 12, 1838: Representative John Quincy Adams introduces 96 petitions into the House advocating the abolition of slavery.
March 15, 1838: Clara Wieck (18) is named Royal and Imperial Virtuosa by the Emperor of Austria in Vienna.
March 18, 1838: Overture in D D.26 by Franz Schubert (†9) is performed publicly for the first time, in the Vienna Musikverein.
March 19, 1838: Richard Wagner’s (24) Overture Rule Britannia is performed for the first time, probably in the Schwarzhäuptersaal, Riga, the composer conducting.
March 23, 1838: Luigi Cherubini’s (77) second setting of the Requiem is performed for the first time, at the Paris Conservatoire.
March 24, 1838: French ships blockade Buenos Aires to enforce indemnity claims and assist rebels in Uruguay.
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.
March 27, 1838: Following rebellion in Lower Canada the Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council of the province are dissolved by Great Britain. A Special Council is appointed to administer Lower Canada.
March 30, 1838: Le perruquier de la régence, an opéra comique by Ambroise Thomas (26) to words of Planard and Dupont, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre des Nouveautés, Paris.
March 31, 1838: The first installment of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens is published. It will run through 1 October of next year.
April 1, 1838: Franz Liszt (26) plays the second of two concerts in Venice, in Teatro San Benedetto.
April 1, 1838: Deuxième Trio Concertant for violin, cello, and piano by César Franck (15) is performed for the first time, in Salle Chantereine, Paris.
April 2, 1838: The Serenade und Allegro giojoso op.43 for piano and orchestra by Felix Mendelssohn (29) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig, the composer at the keyboard. He wrote the work in two days, leaving out the last 15 measures of the piano part. Those he composed during the concert.
April 3, 1838: String Quartet no.5 op.44/3 by Felix Mendelssohn (29) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig.
April 4, 1838: Some excerpts from the unperformed opera Ruslan y Lyudmila by Mikahail Ivanovich Glinka (33) are performed for the first time, in St. Petersburg.
April 7, 1838: The National Gallery is opened by Queen Victoria in its permanent location on Trafalgar Square.
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 16, 1838: Ships of the French navy blockade the port of Veracruz and other east coast ports, demanding reparations from the Mexican government for losses suffered during a riot in Mexico City ten years ago. The Mexicans refuse to pay.
April 16, 1838: Tsar Nikolay I orders his Kapellmeister, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (33), to go to Ukraine and recruit singers.
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)
April 19, 1838: Festgesang for chorus and piano by Felix Mendelssohn (29) is performed for the first time, in Schwaz.
April 22, 1838: The Sirius arrives in New York City. It made the crossing from Europe in 18 days thus inaugurating transatlantic steamship service.
April 23, 1838: Clara Wieck (18) writes to Robert Schumann (27) about Franz Liszt (26), “He is an artist whom one must hear and see for oneself...He rates your work extraordinarily highly, far above Henselt (23), above everything he has come across recently. I played your Carnaval, which quite enchanted him. ‘What a mind!’ he said; ‘that is one of the greatest works I know.’ You can imagine my joy.” (Williams, 103)
April 23, 1838: The Great Western arrives in New York City one day behind its competitor Sirius. But it took two days less to complete the passage.
April 25, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (28) and George Sand are thrown together again at a reception at the home of Manuel Marliani, the Spanish consul in Paris.
April 27, 1838: Fire breaks out in Charleston, South Carolina and goes on to destroy a significant part of the city.
April 30, 1838: Souvenir of Vienna op.9 for piano by Clara Wieck (18) is performed for the first time, in Graz by the composer. It receives tumultuous applause.
April 30, 1838: Nicaragua secedes from the Central American Federation.
May 8, 1838: The People’s Charter is published in London. Written by William Lovett, it includes six points of social and political reform. It will form the basis of “The Charter” in August.
May 8, 1838: At a dinner at the house of Astolphe, Marquis de Custine, Frédéric Chopin (28) and George Sand fall in love. Sand will remember, “...I was confused and amazed at the effect this little creature wrought on me. I have still not recovered from my astonishment, and if I were a proud person I should be feeling humiliated at having been carried away by my emotions...when I had thought that I had settled down for good.”
May 10, 1838: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (33) sets out from St. Petersburg to Ukraine to recruit singers for the Imperial Choir.
May 10, 1838: John Elliotson demonstrates mesmerism on the person of a teenaged Irish girl named Elizabeth O’Key in the surgical theatre of University College Hospital, London. It is the first time mesmerism is done before a broad audience. Among the viewers are Charles Dickens and Michael Faraday.
May 17, 1838: Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, prince de Bénévent dies at his Paris home at the age of 84.
May 17, 1838: Angered by abolitionist meetings, a mob sets fire to Pennsylvania Hall, Philadelphia.
May 21, 1838: Pauline Garcia (16) performs a concert with the violinist Charles de Bériot before King Friedrich Wilhelm III and the Prussian court in Berlin. It is a glittering success.
May 21, 1838: The first section of the London & South Western Railway opens from Nine Elms Road to Woking.
May 23, 1838: United States authorities begin rounding up Cherokees in Georgia to be moved to Oklahoma.
May 25, 1838: After a detour from his Italian sojourn for a month, Franz Liszt (26) gives the last of twelve highly successful performances in Vienna. He has heard that Marie d’Agoult is seriously ill awaiting him in Venice and he will soon join her.
May 29, 1838: John George Lambton, Earl of Durham arrives in Quebec as Governor-in-Chief of all British North America.
May 29, 1838: While traveling on the St. Lawrence River, the British vessel Sir Robert Peel is boarded by a party of US civilians. They put the passengers ashore and then set the ship alight in retaliation for the Caroline.
June 4, 1838: Hector Berlioz (34) signs a document making him director of the Théatre-Italien and King Louis-Philippe legalizes it today. The whole scheme will be disapproved by the legislature.
June 4, 1838: The British Great Western Railway is opened from Paddington to Maidenhead. Present at the ceremony is a visiting German painter named Wilhelm Hensel, husband of Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (32).
June 6, 1838: George Sand and her children return to Paris from Nohant. It is at this point that she becomes the lover of Frédéric Chopin (28).
June 6, 1838: The first group of Cherokees departs Chattanooga, Tennessee by steamboat to be transported across the Mississippi River.
June 21, 1838: Charles Wheatstone explains his invention, the stereoscope, to the Royal Society of London.
June 28, 1838: Queen Victoria is crowned in Westminster Abbey. There will not be another British coronation in 64 years.
June 28, 1838: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (34) reports to St. Petersburg about his very successful trip to Ukraine to recruit choristers. 25 boys have been found already.
June 30, 1838: The Swedish government removes all restrictions on Jews but it will be forced to rescind the order by popular opposition.
July 4, 1838: 26 children are drowned while working in the Husker Pit (colliery) at Silkstone, England. Newspaper accounts inform much of the country for the first time that there are women and children working in mines.
July 7, 1838: The US Congress names every railroad in the country as a postal route.
July 10, 1838: In a letter to Dutch chemist Gerard Johann Mulder about Mulder’s discovery of a class of biological molecules, Swedish scientist Jöns Jakob Berzelius suggests they be called “proteins.”
July 31, 1838: The Irish Poor Relief Act receives Royal Assent from Queen Victoria. It extends the English poor laws to Ireland in an attempt to mitigate widespread poverty there.
August 2, 1838: César Franck (15) wins the First Prize in piano at the Paris Conservatoire. The jury, consisting of Director Luigi Cherubini (77), Adolphe Adam (35), Camille Pleyel, Charles-Valentin Alkan (24), Jacques Herz, Charles Kontzki, Félix Le Couppey, and Jean Schneitzhoeffer, are unanimous.
August 6, 1838: At a mass meeting of workingmen’s groups in Birmingham, “The Charter” is adopted as the centerpiece of a united, national labor movement. The Charter advocates universal male suffrage, secret ballot, payment of parliament members, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, constituencies based on equal population, and annually elected parliaments. Within two years, 500 chartist leaders will be imprisoned.
August 12, 1838: Scherzo for piano op.10 by Clara Wieck (18) is performed for the first time, by the composer in Leipzig.
August 14, 1838: A final music program is given by students at the Hawes Grammar School in South Boston. The experiment of music in the public schools by Lowell Mason (46) is judged a success.
August 14, 1838: Queen Victoria gives Royal Assent to an act of Parliament creating a Public Records Office (National Archives).
August 16, 1838: A group of teachers organized two years ago in Boston called the Musical Convention adopts three resolutions on the teaching of music, all directly from the ideas of Lowell Mason (46).
August 17, 1838: Lorenzo da Ponte dies in New York at the age of 89.
August 23, 1838: The first college for women in the United States, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Massachusetts, holds its first commencement.
August 25, 1838: A Rondo-finale to Saverio Mercadantes opera I Briganti for soprano and orchestra by Otto Nicolai (28) is performed for the first time.
August 28, 1838: Largely through the efforts of Lowell Mason (46), the Boston School Committee orders that music become a regular part of the curriculum. This decision will come to be known as the “Magna Carta of Music Education in the United States.” Mason is hired to teach and is authorized to hire whatever assistants and buy whatever materials he needs.
August 28, 1838: Most of the Cherokee Nation begins the Trail of Tears, their forced removal from Georgia to Oklahoma.
September 6, 1838: Emperor Ferdinand of Austria is crowned King of Lombardy in Milan Cathedral. Among those attending is Franz Liszt (26).
September 6, 1838: Bernardino Fernández de Velasco Enríquez de Guzmán, duque de Frías replaces Narciso de Heredia y Begines de los Ríos, conde de Ofalia as Prime Minister of Spain.
September 8, 1838: Giuseppe Verdi (24) and his wife arrive in Milan during the coronation festivities. He is there in an attempt to stage his opera Oberto.
September 13, 1838: Prince Friedrich Hermann Otto of Hohenzollern-Hechingen dies in Hechingen and is succeeded by his son Friedrich Wilhelm Konstantin.
September 13, 1838: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (34), his travelling companions, and a troop of boys for the Imperial Choir, return to St. Petersburg.
September 17, 1838: Publication of Die Schule der Geläufigkeit op.229 by Carl Czerny (47) is announced in the Wiener Zeitung.
September 24, 1838: Capitalists and politicians meet in Manchester to form the Anti-Corn Law League. Their intention is to remove tariffs and expand markets.
September 26, 1838: Gaetano Donizetti’s (40) opera seria Poliuto, already in production, is banned by the King of Naples because its subject is a saint. See 30 November 1848.
October 1, 1838: Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India, fearful of Afghan overtures to Russia, announces his invasion of Afghanistan.
October 1, 1838: Carlist (absolutist) forces defeat liberals at Maella in Aragon.
October 1, 1838: Friedrich Wieck tells his daughter Clara (19) that he will never consent to her marriage with Robert Schumann.
October 1, 1838: Conservatoire student César Franck (15) begins two courses in Paris in piano for amateurs, one for gentlemen, one for ladies.
October 3, 1838: Robert Schumann (28) arrives in Vienna from Leipzig to explore the possibilities of moving there.
October 6, 1838: The Dundee and Arbroath Railway is opened.
October 6, 1838: Troops intervene in Dewitt, Missouri where townspeople have besieged Mormons. Over the next three weeks, Mormons will rampage through Daviess and Caldwell Counties killing livestock and burning 150 homes.
October 9, 1838: After criticism that he is too lenient towards rebels, Lord Durham resigns his post as Governor-in-Chief of Canada.
October 12, 1838: When the US Congress takes no action on the matter, the government of Texas withdraws its request for annexation.
October 13, 1838: The Maid of Palaiseau, a comic opera by Henry R. Bishop (51) to words of Fitzball, is performed for the first time, in Drury Lane Theatre, London. It is Bishop’s second reworking of Rossini’s La gazza ladra.
October 18, 1838: George Sand, her two children and maid leave Paris for Mallorca. Few people know that she is gone and Chopin (28) tells only four close friends that he will soon join her.
October 23, 1838: German astronomer Friedrich Bessel writes from Königsberg to Sir John Herschel, Bart. telling him that he has determined the distance from Earth to the star 61 Cygni using the parallax method. It is the first time the distance of a star other than the sun has been measured.
October 25, 1838: Alexandre-César-Léopold Bizet is born at rue de la Tour d’Auvergne, no.26 in the Ninth Arrondissement of Paris, Kingdom of France, the only child of Adolphe Armand Bizet, singing teacher, and Aimée Marie Louise Léopoldine Joséphine Delsarte, amateur pianist and daughter of an inventor. This child will be baptized Georges on 16 March 1840 but the name does not appear on the birth certificate.
October 27, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (28) departs Paris to meet George Sand in Perpignan. Their ultimate goal is Mallorca.
October 27, 1838: After armed conflict between Mormons and the state militia, Governor Lilburn Boggs of Missouri orders that all Mormons be removed from the state.
October 29, 1838: The first railway in Prussia opens between Berlin and Potsdam.
October 31, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (28) arrives in Perpignan where George Sand has been since yesterday. They will board ship for Barcelona.
October 31, 1838: Le brasseur de Preston, an opera by Adolphe Adam (35) to words of Leuven and Brunswick (pseud. of Lhérie), is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
November 1, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, her children, and maid board ship in Vendres making for Barcelona.
November 3, 1838: The first issue of the Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce appears. It will one day be known as the Times of India.
November 5, 1838: Honduras secedes from Central America.
November 7, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, her children and maid board ship in Barcelona making for Mallorca.
November 8, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, her two children, and maid arrive in Palma, Mallorca where he intends to finish the Preludes op.28.
November 8, 1838: The Théâtre de la Renaissance opens in Paris. It is authorized to show plays with or without music. Its first production is the premiere of Ruy Blas by Victor Hugo.
November 9, 1838: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is published in book form. It was serialized last year in Bentley’s Miscellany.
November 13, 1838: Contre-amiral Charles Baudin disembarks at Veracruz to deliver the French demand for 600,000 Mexican pesos in reparation for a French bakery which was damaged during a riot ten years ago in Mexico City.
November 15, 1838: With the help of the French consul, Frédéric Chopin (28) and George Sand are able to rent lodgings in Establiments, near Palma, Mallorca.
November 27, 1838: Cardinal Ostini, Archbishop of Iesi, issues the edict “against the abuse of theatrical music in churches.” It is based on recent conversations he has had with Gaspare Spontini (64).
November 27, 1838: French troops bombard Fort San Juan de Ulúa in Veracruz harbor in an attempt to gain compensation for French victims of civil disturbances in Mexico.
November 28, 1838: French forces take the fortress of San Juan de Ulúa, Veracruz.
November 30, 1838: Great Britain declares a protectorate over Pitcairn Island.
November 30, 1838: France and Mexico trade declarations of war.
December 1, 1838: The State in its Relations with the Church by William Gladstone is published this month in London.
December 6, 1838: Evaristo Pérez de Castro replaces Bernardino Fernández de Velasco, Duke of Frias as Prime Minister of Spain.
December 6, 1838: French forces attack out of San Juan de Ulúa into the town of Veracruz, devastating the Mexican troops and the town itself.
December 9, 1838: Evaristo Pérez de Castro Brito replaces Bernardino Fernández de Velasco Enríquez de Guzmán, duque de Frías as Prime Minister of Spain.
December 12, 1838: Off-duty American sailors in Canton (Guangzhou) attack an execution cross about to be put into use by local Chinese officials to kill a man accused of keeping an opium den. A riot ensues which continues a good part of the day until quelled by the arrival of police.
December 12, 1838: The Salle Herz opens in rue de la Victoire, Paris with a gala concert. It was built by Henri Herz (35) and his brother Jacques.
December 15, 1838: Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, and her two children are forced to leave their lodgings in Palma. The proprietor has learned that doctors have diagnosed Chopin’s constant coughing as tuberculosis. The couple are not married either. They traverse the rocky road, with furniture, to Valldemosa some 16 km away.
December 16, 1838: Boers withstand an attack by 10,000 Zulus on the Blood River, Natal, thus securing their position in the region.
December 16, 1838: Hector Berlioz (35) conducts an orchestral concert at the Conservatoire featuring music of Gluck (†51) and himself. Nicolò Paganini (56), frail and ill with throat cancer, is in the audience. It is the first time he hears Harold in Italy, which was composed originally for him. At the conclusion, Paganini comes on stage as Berlioz is about to leave it. His voice inaudible from the cancer, he whispers in the ear of his son Achille and then beckons him to stand on a chair. The young man proclaims, “My father says he is so moved and overwhelmed, he could go down on his knees to you.” Paganini takes Berlioz’ arm and brings him back to the platform, whereupon he kneels and kisses Berlioz’ hand.
December 18, 1838: While Hector Berlioz (35) is bedridden with bronchitis, Achille Paganini, son of the violinist (56), enters his room, hands Berlioz a letter and leaves, saying that no response is required. Inside the envelope is a note which says “Beethoven being dead, only Berlioz could make him live again; and I, who have enjoyed your divine compositions, worthy of the genius that you are, beg you to accept as token of my homage 20,000 francs, which will be remitted to you by Baron Rothschild on your presenting the enclosed. Ever your affectionate friend Nicolò Paganini.”
December 18, 1838: Robert Schumann (28) once again suffers terrible bouts of depression, repeated 19 and 25 December.
December 24, 1838: The Ottoman Empire grants a constitution for Serbia but retains ultimate control.
December 24, 1838: The publication of Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka’s (34) Collection of Musical Pieces for 1839 is announced in Northern Bee.