January 1, 1839: Sometime this month, in Woburn, Massachusetts, Charles Goodyear accidentally discovers the vulcanization of rubber.
January 1, 1839: This month, Carl Gustaf Mosander discovers the element Lanthanum at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm.
January 2, 1839: Louis Daguerre takes the first photographic image of the Moon. Unfortunately it will be lost two months from now when Daguerre’s studio is destroyed by fire.
January 4, 1839: The first large group of Cherokee arrive in Oklahoma after enduring the Trail of Tears from Georgia.
January 6, 1839: A massive wind and rain storm strikes Ireland over the night of 6-7 January. 250-300 people are killed, structures are demolished, floods occur, and £500,000 in shipping are lost.
January 7, 1839: Louis Daguerre presents his photographic process to the French Academy of Science.
January 8, 1839: Clara Wieck (19) departs Leipzig for a concert tour to Paris with Claudine Dufourd, a French woman hired by her father to accompany her.
January 9, 1839: Incidental music to Birnbaum’s play Der Matrose by Louis Spohr (54) is performed for the first time, in Kassel.
January 9, 1839: John Knowles Paine is born in a house on Oxford Street in Portland, Maine, USA, the second of five children born to Jacob Small Paine, a craftsman of umbrellas and musical instruments, also a music publisher and distributor of sheet music and pianos, and Rebecca Beebe Downes.
January 10, 1839: Notre-Dame des orages, a cantata for two voices and piano by César Franck (16) to words of the Comte de Pastoret, is performed for the first time, in the Salle Erard, Paris.
January 16, 1839: Gesang am Grabe by Richard Wagner (25) to words of von Brackel is performed for the first time, in the Jakobi-Kirchhof, Riga.
January 17, 1839: Régine, ou Les deux nuits, an opera by Adolphe Adam (35) to words of Scribe, is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
January 19, 1839: The British East India Company occupies Aden in an attempt to stop piracy on its ships.
January 19, 1839: Landgrave Ludwig of Hesse-Homburg dies in Luxembourg and is succeeded by his brother Philip.
January 20, 1839: Chilean forces defeat Peru-Bolivia at Yungay, 60 km southeast of Antofagasta. This defeat will lead to the dissolution of the union of Peru and Bolivia.
January 22, 1839: Frédéric Chopin (28) finally receives shipment of his piano on Mallorca after it took three weeks and a great deal of money to clear customs. He may now complete revision of his Preludes op.28.
January 27, 1839: Jacob (Jacques) Offenbach (19) gives his first public concert (along with eleven others), in the Pape showroom, Paris.
January 28, 1839: La gipsy, a ballet by Ambroise Thomas (27), François Benoist, and Marco Aurelio Marliani, to a scenario by Saint-Georges after Cervantes, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra.
January 31, 1839: A paper explaining the negative photography process developed by English scientist WH Fox Talbot is read to the Royal Society in London.
February 4, 1839: A national convention of chartists, called the General Convention of the Industrious Classes, meets in London.
February 4, 1839: John George Lambton, the Earl of Durham presents his work, Report on the Affairs of British North America, to the British Colonial Office. He recommends that Upper and Lower Canada be united, and immigration from the British Isles be increased. He also suggests that power be devolved to the local populace.
February 6, 1839: Clara Wieck (19) arrives in Paris from Leipzig, having traveled only with a French woman previously unknown to her. She will stay there for six months, eventually living with her friend, Emilie List.
February 9, 1839: Hector Berlioz (35) is appointed deputy curator of the Paris Conservatoire Library. The appointment and salary are retroactive to 1 January.
February 9, 1839: From an expedition led by English explorer John Balleny, Captain Thomas Freeman lands on what are now called the Balleny Islands just long enough to collect some rocks. It is the first landing south of the Antarctic Circle.
February 11, 1839: After barely two months in Mallorca, Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, and her children leave Valldemosa. Their stay was generally disappointing and caused injury to Chopin’s health. He is coughing blood on a regular basis.
February 13, 1839: The lawyer Heinrich Blumner dies in Leipzig leaving a bequest of 20,000 thaler. Through the intercession of Felix Mendelssohn (30), the money will be used to found the Leipzig Conservatory.
February 13, 1839: Guatemala secedes from Central America.
February 13, 1839: Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, and her children leave Palma aboard a boat with 100 pigs making for Barcelona. Due to an enormous export duty, they have sold Chopin’s Pleyel piano in Mallorca.
February 14, 1839: In the harbor of Barcelona, George Sand manages to get Frédéric Chopin (28) and her children on to a French ship. There the ship’s doctor succeeds in stopping his hemorrhaging from the lungs.
February 16, 1839: String Quartet no.3 op.44/1 by Felix Mendelssohn (30) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig.
February 18, 1839: Carlist generals Juan Antonio Guergué, Francisco García, and Pablo Sanz Baeza are executed along with three others by General Rafael Maroto, the leading Carlist moderate in Spain, at Estrella. Maroto accuses them of plotting against him.
February 20, 1839: The United States Congress outlaws dueling in the District of Columbia.
February 20, 1839: Simon Mayr (75) reads the first part of his History of the Oratorio and the Mysteries to the Ateneo, Bergamo.
February 21, 1839: A setting of Psalm 95 for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Felix Mendelssohn (30) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig.
February 22, 1839: Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, and her children board ship in Barcelona for Marseille.
February 24, 1839: Frédéric Chopin (28), George Sand, and her children reach Marseille. Writes Sand, “A month more and we would have died in Spain--he of melancholy and disgust and I of rage and indignation.” They will stay in Marseille for three months to give him time to recuperate.
February 24, 1839: Uruguay declares war on Argentina claiming interference in internal affairs.
February 24, 1839: William Otis of Philadelphia receives a US patent for a steam shovel.
March 1, 1839: This month, Theodor Schwann dates the preface to his Microscopical Researches into the Accordance in the Structure and Growth of Animals and Plants. In it, he describes the features common to all cells and identifies cells as the basic unit of all living things.
March 2, 1839: Pascal et Chambord, a vaudeville by Jacob (Jacques) Offenbach (19) to words of Bourgeois and Brisebarre, is performed for the first time, at the Palais-Royal, Paris. It is a flop.
March 9, 1839: The government of Prussia limits the work week for children to 51 hours.
March 9, 1839: Mexico agrees to compensation for France, and French troops begin to withdraw from the country.
March 11, 1839: Felix Mendelssohn’s (30) overture and incidental music to Hugo’s (tr.Dräxler) play Ruy Blas is performed for the first time, in Leipzig.
March 21, 1839: Modest Petrovich Musorgsky is born in Karevo, Pskov Province, Toropets District, Russian Empire, south of St. Petersburg, the fourth and youngest child of Pyotr Alyekseyevich Musorgsky, a well-to-do landowner and Yulia Ivanovna Chirikova, daughter of a middle-class landowner.
March 21, 1839: Clara Wieck (19) makes her Paris debut in the Salle Erard. The same evening she plays for Paris society at the home of Pierre Zimmerman, a professor of piano at the Conservatoire. She creates a “sensation.”
March 21, 1839: Symphony in C major “Great” D.944 by Franz Schubert (†10) is performed for the first time, in the Gewandhaus, Leipzig, conducted by Felix Mendelssohn (30). The score was found three months ago when Robert Schumann (28) visited Schubert’s brother Ferdinand in Vienna. See 1 January 1839.
March 22, 1839: This is the date inscribed on the first composition by Camille Saint-Saëns (3), a piano piece.
March 24, 1839: The last groups of Cherokee arrive in Oklahoma, thus ending the Trail of Tears.
March 24, 1839: Imperial Commissioner Lin Tse-hsü (Lin Zexu) orders the arrest in Canton (Guangzhou) of leading British opium merchant Lawrence Dent. When the foreigners refuse to hand him over, Lin orders the opium trade halted and 350 foreigners besieged in their factories.
March 29, 1839: The College Historical Society is founded at Trinity College, Dublin. It will one day become known as Young Ireland.
April 1, 1839: Le lac des fées, an opéra by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (57) to words of Scribe and Mélesville, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra.
April 4, 1839: Robert Schumann (28) departs from Vienna to go to Zwickau. He has learned of the grave illness of his brother Eduard.
April 7, 1839: Rail service begins between Dresden and Leipzig.
April 9, 1839: Robert Schumann (28) arrives in Zwickau from Vienna. His brother Eduard died three days ago.
April 9, 1839: Clara Wieck (19) writes to Schumann from Paris. She has discovered that her friend Emilie List has been corresponding with her father who threatens to disinherit her and begin a lawsuit against both of them unless their relationship is broken off.
April 14, 1839: Robert Schumann (28) arrives back in Leipzig from his home town of Zwickau, where his brother recently died.
April 15, 1839: Les treize, an opéra comique by Fromental Halévy (39) to words of Scribe and Duport, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre de la Bourse, Paris. The critics are mixed but it does receive 39 performances.
April 18, 1839: Rodrigo Pinto Pizarro Pimentel de Almeida Carvalhais, barão da Ribeira de Sabrosa replaces Bernardo de Sá Nogueira de Figueiredo, visconde e barão de Sá Bandeira as Prime Minister of Portugal.
April 19, 1839: By terms of a treaty signed in London by Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, Belgium and the Netherlands are formally separated. Luxembourg is made an independent grand duchy and all powers guarantee the neutrality of Belgium.
April 21, 1839: A Turkish army invades Syria to oppose Mohammed Ali.
April 28, 1839: Gioachino Rossini (47) agrees to become “perpetual honorary consultant” to the Liceo Musicale in Bologna.
May 3, 1839: The Fighting Temeraire, a painting by JMW Turner, is exhibited for the first time, at the Royal Academy, London.
May 6, 1839: Le panier fleuri, an opéra comique by Ambroise Thomas (27) to words of de Leuven and Brunswick, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre de Nouveautés, Paris.
May 9, 1839: A third child, Daniel, is born to Franz Liszt (27) and Countess Marie d’Agoult, in Rome during their extended sojourn in Italy.
May 9, 1839: Pauline Garcia (17) makes her operatic debut as Desdemona in Otello by Gioachino Rossini (47) in Her Majesty's Theatre, London.
May 9, 1839: In an interview with Queen Victoria, Robert Peel, who has been named to succeed Lord Melbourne as prime minister, asks her to remove some of her ladies of the bedchamber (those related to important Whigs) and replace them with Conservative women. He is expected to lead a minority government and needs a visible sign of the Queen’s confidence. The Queen refuses. It will become known as the Bedchamber Crisis.
May 10, 1839: Given the events of yesterday, Robert Peel declines to form a ministry.
May 10, 1839: Giuseppe Verdi’s (25) resignation as maestro di musica in Busseto becomes effective today.
May 12, 1839: Republicans attempt an insurrection in Paris, arming themselves with stolen weapons and attacking the Palais de Justice and the Hôtel de Ville. They kill a small number of soldiers and hold positions until troops retake and secure the buildings in late afternoon. Barricades go up and insurgents attack various National Guard positions around the city. By 21:00, the troops have regained all positions and restored order. 94 people are dead. 22:00 Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, duc de Dalmatie replaces Louis Matthieu, Comte Molé as Prime Minister of France.
May 22, 1839: After three months in Marseille, Frédéric Chopin (29), George Sand and her children depart the city and head for her estate in Berry.
May 29, 1839: Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres presents his drawing of Franz Liszt (27) to Countess Marie d’Agoult in Rome.
June 1, 1839: Frédéric Chopin (29), George Sand and her children arrive from Marseille at her chateau Nohant in Berry. It is the first time he has seen it.
June 5, 1839: The London and Croydon Railway is opened.
June 10, 1839: The Fallen Angel, an oratorio by Henry R. Bishop (52), is performed for the first time, at Oxford.
June 13, 1839: Prince Milos Obrenovic I of Serbia abdicates for lack of support. He is succeeded by his son Milan Obrenovic II.
June 14, 1839: A Chartist petition with 1,200,000 signatures is presented to Parliament by Thomas Attwood, MP.
June 17, 1839: Samuel Sebastian Wesley (28) matriculates at Magdalen College, Oxford, for the simultaneous degrees of Bachelor of Music and Doctor of Music.
June 20, 1839: Gioachino Rossini (47) and his mistress, Olympe Pélissier, depart Bologna for Naples.
June 20, 1839: The Eastern Counties Railway opens, serving London.
June 21, 1839: Samuel Sebastian Wesley (28) graduates from Magdalen College, Oxford University with the degrees of BMus and DMus.
June 24, 1839: Egyptian forces defeat the Turks at Nezib (Nizip), 100 km north of Aleppo (Halab).
June 24, 1839: The first photography exhibition takes place, in France. It shows the work of inventor Hippolyte Bayard.
June 28, 1839: In the case of the failed Casino Paganini, a Paris court sentences Nicolò Paganini (56) to pay 20,000 francs plus interest and costs with a threat of arrest for debt for ten years upon non-fulfillment for claims. He appeals.
July 1, 1839: Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II dies in Constantinople and is succeeded by his son Abdulmejid I. Pursuant to the defeat at Nezib, the Ottoman fleet sails to Egypt and surrenders to Mohammed Ali.
July 2, 1839: Robert Schumann’s (29) lawyer, Wilhelm Einert, attempts to negotiate with Friedrich Wieck over Clara (19). This fails, precipitating litigation.
July 2, 1839: Slaves aboard the Spanish schooner Amistad, on its way from West Africa to Cuba, free themselves and take over the ship, killing the captain and a crewman in the process.
July 4, 1839: 60 Metropolitan Police attempt to break up a crowd of about 1,000 Chartists meeting in an area of Birmingham known as the Bull Ring. A riot ensues and the Army is called to quell the disturbance. The organizers of the meeting are arrested.
July 6, 1839: Voting for the French legislature concludes. Republicans and other leftists win a majority.
July 8, 1839: Prince Milan Obrenovic II of Serbia dies and is succeeded by his brother Michael under a three-man regency council.
July 8, 1839: Mehmed Hüsrev Pasha replaces Mehmed Emin Rauf Pasha as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
July 9, 1839: His contract in Riga not renewed, and one step ahead of his creditors, Richard Wagner (26) and his wife depart from Mitau, near Riga, hoping to make it to Paris.
July 10, 1839: Fernando Sor dies in Paris at the age of 61.
July 12, 1839: A group of drunken Royal Navy sailors kill a Chinese man in Kowloon. The Chinese will demand that the sailors be turned over to them for trial. The British commander will refuse. It becomes known as the “Kowloon Incident.”
July 12, 1839: The British Parliament rejects the Chartist petition with 1,200,000 signatures by a vote of 235-46.
July 15, 1839: Further riots occur in Birmingham after the rejection of the Chartist petition.
July 16, 1839: Waltz in G for orchestra by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (35) is performed for the first time, at the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg.
July 16, 1839: Over the last two days, Cherokees have battled the Texas militia on the Neches River. More than 100 people are dead.
July 19, 1839: After crossing into Prussia, Richard (26) and Minna Wagner board ship in Pillau (Baltiysk), making for Paris. On their way, the couple was in a carriage accident, which shortly thereafter caused Minna to miscarry. They have to sneak on to the ship and hide, since they crossed into Prussia illegally and Wagner is fleeing creditors in Riga.
July 19, 1839: Queen Victoria grants royal assent to the Bank Charter Act. It makes the bank of England the only body allowed to produce bank notes.
July 23, 1839: British and colonial forces capture the fortress of Ghazni, 150 km southwest of Kabul, from the Afghan forces of Dost Mohammed.
July 29, 1839: Attempting to reach England from eastern Prussia, the Thetis, on which Richard (26) and Minna Wagner are traveling, puts into a Norwegian fjord in a gale. The composer is struck by the mountains rising from the sea, and the calm water, which he will remember in Der fliegende Holländer.
August 2, 1839: A passenger railroad opens between Paris and Versailles.
August 7, 1839: A British expeditionary force captures Kabul and a British protectorate is declared.
August 7, 1839: King Louis-Philippe signs a provision for a lifetime pension to Louis Daguerre and the son of Nicéphore Niepce in lieu of a patent. The French government will now make the photographic process public for anyone to use.
August 10, 1839: Leaders on Crete petition the protecting powers (France-Great Britain-Russia) for union with Greece.
August 12, 1839: After three weeks at sea, for a trip that should have taken one, and suffering furious gales, Richard Wagner (26) and his wife arrive in London.
August 18, 1839: Robert Schumann (29) meets Clara Wieck (19) for the first time in over a year, in Altenburg, near Leipzig. It is also the first time they have met since asking her father’s consent to marry. They will spend a few days together and go to Leipzig separately. When Clara arrives, she finds that she is no longer welcome in her father’s house.
August 19, 1839: The process of photography, as invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre and the late Joseph Nicéphore Niepce, is explained by François Jean Arago (who championed the pension for Daguerre) to a joint meeting of the French Academies of Science and Fine Arts.
August 20, 1839: Richard Wagner (26) meets Giacomo Meyerbeer (47) as the latter takes the cure at Boulogne-sur-Mer. Wagner asks Meyerbeer for assistance and the elder composer freely gives it, both financially and with recommendations. These were eventually withdrawn after Meyerbeer learns that Wagner is speaking ill of him behind his back.
August 20, 1839: Wilhelm, Duke of Nassau, dies in Kissingen, Bavaria and is succeeded by his son Adolf.
August 23, 1839: British forces take Hong Kong.
August 25, 1839: Fearful of the Chinese, the last of 57 British families leave Macao for Hong Kong.
August 26, 1839: After two months at sea, the Amistad is captured by the USS Washington in US territorial waters off Long Island. They bring the ship into New London, Connecticut. The slaves are imprisoned, the Cuban slave owners freed.
August 27, 1839: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (33), her husband and son leave Berlin for a sojourn in Italy. They go immediately to Leipzig for a week with her brother Felix (30).
August 28, 1839: A reenactment of a medieval jousting contest begins at Eglinton Castle in Scotland and runs for three days. It is a deliberately nostalgic event of high Romanticism including actual combat between 13 knights in full armor and costumed spectators. Tens of thousands of people attend.
August 29, 1839: In the Convention of Vergara, conservatives in the north of Spain give up their struggle to place Don Carlos on the throne and recognize Isabella as queen in return for their pay and promotion.
August 31, 1839: In Vergara, liberal General Baldomero Espartero and absolutist General Rafael Maroto join in the “Abrazo de Vergara” ending the first Carlist War.
August 31, 1839: Henry David Thoreau and his brother begin a boat trip up the Concord and Merrimack Rivers.
September 1, 1839: “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe is published in Burton’s Gentleman’s Magazine this month.
September 2, 1839: A progressive Spanish Cortes opens, but will dissolve in two months.
September 2, 1839: The Salon des Variétés in the Nes opens for business in Amsterdam. Catering to a lower class audience, it charges the same admission price for all patrons.
September 2, 1839: Fromental Halévy’s (40) opéra comique Le shérif, to words of Scribe after Balzac is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre de la Bourse, Paris. It is a failure.
September 3, 1839: A concert devoted entirely to the work of Henry R. Bishop (52) is given at the Theatre Royal, Manchester by various musical organizations of the city. He is presented with the proceeds and a gold snuff box.
September 4, 1839: The Chinese having refused a British ultimatum to turn over needed supplies to British civilians in Hong Kong, British warships open fire on Chinese naval junks in the harbor. The British get the better of the fighting but the Chinese still refuse to hand over supplies.
September 6, 1839: Spain demands that the United States release the Amistad and return its slaves to Cuba.
September 9, 1839: John Herschel, son of the astronomer William Herschel, makes the earliest photograph on a glass plate. He photographs his father’s telescope at Slough.
September 10, 1839: Samuel Morse demonstrates his telegraph to the Institut de France.
September 10, 1839: Gianni di Parigi, a melodramma by Gaetano Donizetti (41) to words of Romani after Saint-Just, is performed for the first time, at Teatro alla Scala, Milan. The critics are not impressed.
September 19, 1839: La reine d’un jour, an opera by Adolphe Adam (36) to words of Scribe and Saint-Georges, is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
September 20, 1839: The first railway in the Netherlands opens between Amsterdam and Haarlem.
September 20, 1839: Caramo, oder Das Fischerstechen, a grosse komische Oper by Albert Lortzing (37) to his own words after Vilain de Saint Hillaire and Duport, is performed for the first time, in Leipzig Stadttheater.
September 24, 1839: Robert Schumann (29) meets Friedrich Wieck privately over the marriage issue. It does not go well.
September 25, 1839: France becomes the first European nation to recognize the independence of the Republic of Texas.
September 26, 1839: José Lúcio Travassos Valdez, conde e barão de Bomfim replaces Rodrigo Pinto Pizarro Pimentel de Almeida Carvalhais, barão da Ribeira de Sabrosa as Prime Minister of Portugal.
October 2, 1839: A court hearing in Leipzig over the Schumann (29)-Wieck (20) marriage issue is postponed until 18 December because Friedrich Wieck does not show up.
October 3, 1839: The first public railroad in Italy opens between Naples and Portici.
October 11, 1839: Frédéric Chopin (29) and George Sand arrive in Paris from Nohant. He will stay here for the next 16 months.
October 12, 1839: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (33) and her family arrive in Venice, the first stop on their year-long tour of Italy.
October 16, 1839: The first documented public performance of the music of Frédéric Chopin (29) in North America takes place when a German immigrant named Ludwig Rakemann plays a nocturne and two mazurkas in his debut in New York.
October 23, 1839: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens is published in book form. It was serialized over the last 18 months.
October 29, 1839: Frédéric Chopin (29) and Ignaz Moscheles provide the entertainment for the French royal family and their guest, United States Minister Lewis Cass.
October 30, 1839: Verleih’ uns Frieden for chorus and orchestra by Felix Mendelssohn (30) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig.
November 3, 1839: An imperial edict by Sultan Abdulmejid I is announced in Constantinople. It promises four reforms, guarantees of life, honor, and property of all Ottoman subjects, an orderly system of taxation, a system of conscription, and equality for all subjects before the law, regardless of religion.
November 3, 1839: First Opium War: Two Royal Navy ships defeat 29 Chinese warships at Chuenpi.
November 4, 1839: A Chartist rising in Newport is suppressed. Some leading Chartists are arrested.
November 5, 1839: Franz Liszt (28) performs a concert in Trieste that is so successful a second one is scheduled for 11 November.
November 17, 1839: After receiving many reports of his wife’s infidelity, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (35) overhears his mother-in-law arranging for a meeting of his wife with her lover. “For me this was sufficient.”
November 17, 1839: Oberto, Conte di San Bonifacio, a dramma by Giuseppe Verdi (26) to words of Solera after Piazza, is performed for the first time, in Teatro alla Scala, Milan. The work enjoys a reasonable success. This opera marks the first time that Giuseppina Strepponi appears in a Verdi production.
November 18, 1839: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (35), having moved to a friend’s house in St. Petersburg, writes to his wife informing her that because of her infidelity, he can no longer live with her. He is not blameless on that score either.
November 24, 1839: Roméo et Juliette, a symphonie dramatique for solo voices, double chorus, and orchestra by Hector Berlioz (35) to words of Deschamps after Shakespeare, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Conservatoire, conducted by the composer. Dedicated to Nicolò Paganini (57), it is an unquestioned triumph. Richard Wagner (26), present either today or 1 December, is very impressed.
November 25, 1839: A massive cyclone comes ashore at Coringa, India causing a twelve meter storm surge. 300,000 people are killed and 20,000 ships are lost.
November 25, 1839: Englishman WH Fox Talbot publishes a photographic negative and publicly explains the negative to positive procedure he developed four years ago.
November 26, 1839: Enrico II, a melodramma serio by Otto Nicolai (29) to words of Romani, is performed for the first time, in Teatro grande Trieste.
November 26, 1839: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (34) and her family arrive in Rome on their year long tour of Italy.
December 2, 1839: The 26th Congress of the United States convenes in Washington. Whigs have made small gains in both houses but remain in the minority.
December 3, 1839: Supremo Apostolato, an encyclical from Pope Gregory XVI, is read at the fourth Provincial Council in Baltimore, Maryland. It condemns slavery.
December 3, 1839: King Frederik VI of Denmark dies in the Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen and is succeeded by his nephew Christian VIII.
December 6, 1839: Imperial Commissioner Lin Tse-hsü (Lin Zexu) ends all trade with Great Britain “forever.”
December 18, 1839: Franz Liszt (28) arrives in Pressburg (Bratislava), seat of the Hungarian Diet, the first stop in what will become his triumphal return to Hungary.
December 18, 1839: British-born American scientist John William Draper makes the first (extant) photographic image of the moon, a daguerreotype.
December 18, 1839: Friedrich Wieck presents an eleven-page appeal in court, attacking both his daughter Clara (20) and her suitor Robert Schumann (29) who are present. He calls Schumann incompetent as a musician, composer, and editor, that he has lied about his finances, that he is vain and egotistical, that he is an excessive drinker, and that he only wants Clara so he can live off her career. Wieck’s worst epithet against Clara is that she is incapable of running a home. Wieck’s unbridled behavior in court seriously hurts his case. Judgment is reserved until 4 January.
December 19, 1839: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (35) petitions Tsar Nikolay I to be released from his position as Imperial Kapellmeister “because of ill health...and domestic disorders...”
December 19, 1839: Franz Liszt (28) plays a matinee concert in Pressburg (Bratislava). “Enthusiasm impossible to describe.” As an encore, he plays his arrangement of the Rákóczy March, a melody banned by the Austrians. The audience is driven to a patriotic frenzy.
December 23, 1839: Franz Liszt (28) arrives in Pest from Pressburg (Bratislava) in the carriage of Count Casimir Esterhazy and accompanied by several Hungarian noblemen.
December 28, 1839: Thomas Carlyle’s Chartism is published. It is an attack on the ruling classes and how their policies create an atmosphere of revolution.
December 30, 1839: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (35), depressed over the break with his wife, is granted release from the position of Imperial Kapellmeister, St. Petersburg. He has stayed on long enough to retire with the rank of collegiate assessor.