January 1, 1840: A setting of Psalm 114 for chorus and orchestra by Felix Mendelssohn (30) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig.
January 3, 1840: Surveyors for the British New Zealand Company arrive aboard the Cuba at Port Nicholson (Wellington) to lay out a settlement.
January 3, 1840: In the case of the failed Casino Paganini, the appeal by Nicolò Paganini (57) to the judgment of last 28 June is handed down. The verdict is confirmed and the penalty is raised to 50,000 francs.
January 4, 1840: A Leipzig court of appeals dismisses all of Friedrich Wieck’s objections to his daughter’s (20) marriage to Robert Schumann (29) save that Schumann is a heavy drinker. Wieck must provide proof of this within six weeks. Shortly, Wieck begins to circulate the official statement about Schumann’s drinking to theatre managers and critics.
January 4, 1840: Felix Mendelssohn (30) writes from Leipzig to his sister Fanny Hensel (34) that he recently played her Caprices for piano to Ferdinand Hiller. “...and we were both astonished and wanted by all means to discover the club-foot in them (Pferdefuss), but there was nothing. They remained a genuine delight.”
January 4, 1840: In the densely packed Hungarian National Theatre in Pest, Franz Liszt (28) gives a solo concert in Hungarian national costume. It is the fourth of seven he will give in Pest. As in Pressburg (Bratislava) on 18 December, he plays his arrangement of the Rákóczy March as an encore. Again, the crowd is driven to patriotic frenzy. While they are still cheering, six Hungarian noblemen appear on stage with a jewel encrusted sabre. Count Leo Festetics draws the sword, gives a patriotic speech and presents Liszt with the sabre. Liszt, overcome with emotion responds (in French) with an impromptu patriotic speech of his own, calling on Hungary to seek itself in peaceful pursuits but, “should it be requisite, let our swords quit their scabbards--they are untarnished, and their blows will fall as heavily as heretofore--and let our blood flow even to the last drop for our rights, our king, and our country!” (Williams, 118) The response from the crowd is earth shattering. The audience streams into the street and joining others already there, forms a procession of 5,000 led by Liszt and Festetics to the Count’s home.
January 6, 1840: Le drapier, an opéra by Fromental Halévy (40) to words of Scribe, is performed for the first time, in the Paris Opéra.
January 10, 1840: Penny Post is introduced in Britain thus creating uniform postal rates throughout the British Isles and the pre-paid postage stamp.
January 11, 1840: The expedition of Charles Wilkes, the first scientific expedition funded by the United States government, reaches the Antarctic ice cap. The voyage will determine that Antarctica is a continent.
January 11, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) gives a concert in Pest to raise money for the foundation of a national music conservatory. Instead of his usual place at the keyboard, he conducts publicly for the first time.
January 13, 1840: A federal judge in Hartford, Connecticut rules that the slaves of the Amistad were taken and transported illegally and therefore must be freed and returned to Africa. Spain and US President Van Buren will appeal.
January 13, 1840: The steamship Lexington catches fire in Long Island Sound. It will sink at 03:00 tomorrow with the loss of 139 passengers and crew. Only four survive.
January 14, 1840: Stephen Foster (13) departs Youngstown, Ohio in an open sleigh for Towanda, Pennsylvania. He travels with his older brother William, the chief engineer on the Pennsylvania Canal, with whom he will live.
January 16, 1840: The US expedition of Charles Wilkes sights the Antarctic continent at approximately 66°S and 160°W. (This sighting is somewhat controversial today)
January 18, 1840: Duke Ernst I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha awards the Ritterkreuz des Sachsen-Ernestinischen Haus-Ordens to Giacomo Meyerbeer (48).
January 19, 1840: Clara Wieck (20) plays a concert in Berlin in a state of nervous exhaustion due to the court case with her father. “...my limbs were so weak that I could not lift my hand.” She fortifies herself with champagne and actually blacks out a few times during the performance. Nobody notices.
January 20, 1840: The French expedition of Captain Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d’Urville sights the Antarctic continent at approximately 66°30’S and 138°21’E.
January 22, 1840: The Aurora, one year and four months out of London, arrives at Port Nicholson (Wellington) bringing the first British settlers to New Zealand.
January 22, 1840: The French expedition of Captain Jules-Sébastien-César Dumont d’Urville sends a party ashore and plants the French flag on a small island a few hundred meters off the Antarctic continent. The captain names the area Terre Adélie after his wife.
January 26, 1840: Friedrich Wieck attempts to show a Leipzig court that Robert Schumann (29) is unfit to marry his daughter because of his financial instability.
January 30, 1840: George Gipps becomes the first British governor of New Zealand.
February 1, 1840: Piano Trio no.1 op.49 by Felix Mendelssohn (30) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig, the composer at the piano.
February 6, 1840: In the Treaty of Waitangi, the Maoris cede sovereignty over New Zealand to the United Kingdom in return for British guarantees that the Maoris will retain control over their lands.
February 6, 1840: Hans Gabriel Trolle-Wachtmeister replaces Mathias Rosenblad as Prime Minister for Justice of Sweden.
February 10, 1840: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha at St. James’ Palace, London.
February 11, 1840: Il templario, a melodramma by Otto Nicolai (29) to words of Marini after Scott, is performed for the first time, in Regio Teatro, Turin. It is extremely successful.
February 11, 1840: Gaetano Donizetti’s (42) opéra comique La fille du régiment to words of Saint-Georges and Bayard is performed for the first time, by the Opéra-Comique, Paris. Donizetti’s French rivals, jealous of his Paris success, organize a hostile reception.
February 12, 1840: The Fortunate Isles, or The Triumphs of Britannia, an allegorical and national masque with music by Henry R. Bishop (53) to words of Planché, is performed for the first time, in Covent Garden, London.
February 13, 1840: Robert Schumann (29) rebuts Friedrich Wieck’s charges about his financial instability before a Leipzig court. He uses inflated figures.
February 16, 1840: Hector Berlioz (36) publishes a scathing review of Donizetti’s (42) La fille du régiment in Journal des Débats.
February 19, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) returns to his birthplace of Raiding. He donates 100 ducats for a new organ in the town.
February 21, 1840: L’écumeur de mer, a ballet by Adolphe Adam (36), is performed for the first time, before the imperial court in St. Petersburg.
February 21, 1840: The US expedition of Charles Wilkes sights a massive area of ice which he calls Termination Land (Shackleton Ice Shelf).
February 24, 1840: Carline, an opéra comique by Ambroise Thomas (28) to words of de Leuven and Brunswick, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre des Nouveautés, Paris.
February 28, 1840: In Leipzig, Robert Schumann (29) receives a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Jena. It was awarded four days ago. He sought the degree to strengthen his court case against Friedrich Wieck.
February 29, 1840: String Quartet no.5 op.44/3 by Felix Mendelssohn (31) is performed for the first time, in Leipzig.
March 1, 1840: Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Thiers replaces Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, duc de Dalmatie as Prime Minister of France.
March 14, 1840: The Pathfinder or, the Inland Sea by James Fenimore Cooper is published in Philadelphia. To protect the British copyright, the book was published there last month.
March 17, 1840: Mihailo Obrenovic III becomes Prince of Serbia, succeeding a regency council.
March 17, 1840: After months of dazzling successes in Vienna, Pest, Prague, and Dresden, Franz Liszt (28) receives whistles from a Leipzig audience for his transcription of the Sixth Symphony of Beethoven (†12). Friedrich Wieck, who sees Liszt as a friend of Robert Schumann (29), has been savaging Liszt in the Leipzig newspapers. Clara (20) takes her father’s side. The Leipzigers also blame him for raising ticket prices and canceling complimentary tickets.
March 22, 1840: Clara Wieck (20) writes to Robert Schumann (29) from Berlin, “When I heard Liszt (28) for the first time, at Graf’s in Vienna, I was overwhelmed and sobbed aloud, it so shook me. Don’t you feel the same, that it is as though he wanted to be absorbed by the piano? And then again, how heavenly it is when he plays tenderly...” (Williams, 126)
March 23, 1840: British-born American scientist John William Draper tells the New York Lyceum of Natural History that he has successfully made a photographic image of the moon.
March 28, 1840: Arvid Posse replaces Hans Gabriel Trolle-Wachtmeister as Prime Minister for Justice of Sweden.
March 28, 1840: A higher court in Dresden upholds the ruling of 4 January in the Schumann-Wieck case. But it also gives Friedrich Wieck an extension to prove Robert Schumann’s (29) drunkenness.
March 31, 1840: US President Martin van Buren decrees a ten-hour day for federal workers.
March 31, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) departs Leipzig for Paris. He has not seen Marie d’Agoult for six months.
April 4, 1840: Serialization of Master Humphrey’s Clock by Charles Dickens begins.
April 6, 1840: At the first London performance of Louis Spohr’s (56) Symphony no.5, the work is hissed by the audience. See 1 March 1838.
April 8, 1840: Felix Mendelssohn (31) writes to Minister Baron Johann Paul von Falkenstein asking that the estate left by the lawyer Heinrich Blümner to be disposed of by the King of Saxony, be used to found a music school. It will become Leipzig Conservatory.
April 10, 1840: Les Martyrs, a grand opéra by Gaetano Donizetti (42) to words of Scribe, is performed for the first time, in the Paris Opéra. The work, which is a second version of the composer’s Poliuto, is given a lukewarm reception.
April 13, 1840: The Piano Quintet no.1 op.30 by Louise Farrenc (35) is performed completely for the first time, in Paris.
April 15, 1840: Daniel O’Connell founds the Loyal National Repeal Association to work for Home Rule for Ireland, in a meeting at the Corn Exchange, Dublin.
April 15, 1840: Richard Wagner (26) and his wife move from 3 rue de la Tonnellerie (31 rue du Pont-Neuf) to 25 rue du Helder in Paris.
April 16, 1840: Duke Wilhelm of Brunswick awards the Ritterkreuz des Ordens Heinrich des Löwen to Giacomo Meyerbeer (48).
April 18, 1840: Jean Louis Joseph Lebeau replaces Barthélemy Théodore, Comte de Theux de Meylandt as head of government for Belgium.
April 18, 1840: Pauline Garcia (18) marries Louis Viardot, a writer and director of the Théâtre Italien, in the Mairie of the 2me Arrondissement, Paris.
April 27, 1840: The foundation stone is laid for the new Palace at Westminster to house the British Parliament.
April 28, 1840: Die Hamadryaden, an opera-ballet by Adolphe Adam (36) to words of Pernot de Colombey, is performed for the first time, at the Berlin Court Opera.
May 5, 1840: Thomas Carlyle gives the first of six lectures this month on the hero. Next year, they will be published under the title On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History.
May 6, 1840: The first adhesive postage stamp goes on sale today in Great Britain.
May 6, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) arrives in England from Paris for a series of concerts across the British Isles through the end of the year.
May 6, 1840: From Paris, Richard Wagner (26) sends the scenario to an opera to Eugène Scribe, hoping the poet will create a libretto which he could set to music. It is based on the story of the Flying Dutchman which Wagner read in a book by Heinrich Heine. Scribe will not write a libretto.
May 7, 1840: The paper “On the Odour accompanying Electricity, and on the probability of its dependence on the presence of a new substance” by German chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein is read to the Royal Society in London. Since Schönbein discovered the new gas by smelling it, he uses the Greek word for smell (ozein) and calls it “ozone.”
May 7, 1840: Caspar David Friedrich dies in Dresden at the age of 65.
May 7, 1840: A tornado hits Natchez, Mississippi, destroying 60 vessels on the Mississippi River and destroying parts of the city. The official death toll is put at 317 but many more may have been killed in rural areas. Also, slaves are not usually included in death tolls.
May 7, 1840: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is born in Kamsko-Votkinsk (at present 119 Tchaikovsky Street), Vyatka Province (Udmurt Republic), Russian Empire, 1,000 km east of Moscow, the second of six children born to Ilya Petrovich Tchaikovsky, chief inspector of the Kamsko-Votkinsk mines, and Alyeksandra Andreyevna Assier, granddaughter of a French emigre. The father also has one child by a previous marriage.
May 8, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) gives his first performance in London, at the Queen’s Concert Room, Hanover Square.
May 10, 1840: Publication of the March from the Piano Sonata op.35, Impromptu op.36, and Nocturnes op.37 by Frédéric Chopin (30) is advertised in La France Musicale, Paris.
May 11, 1840: The London and Southampton Railway is opened.
May 16, 1840: The Opéra-Comique opens the new Salle Favart constructed on the ruins of the old.
May 16, 1840: The Chapter of Exeter Cathedral forbids their organist, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (29) to give lessons on the cathedral organ.
May 18, 1840: Zanetta, ou Jouer avec le feu, an opéra comique by Daniel Auber (58) to words of Scribe and Saint-Georges, is performed for the first time, at Théâtre Favart, Paris.
May 20, 1840: Fire does considerable damage to the York Minster, destroying the South West belfry and the roof of the nave.
May 21, 1840: Great Britain formally annexes New Zealand and moves its capital to Auckland.
May 21, 1840: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (11) performs in a concert given by the violinist Felix Miolan, in the new St. Charles Hotel in New Orleans.
May 22, 1840: An Order-in-Council ends the practice of sending British convicts to the colony of New South Wales.
May 25, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) is one of several musicians performing at Buckingham Palace for the 21st birthday of Queen Victoria.
May 27, 1840: 17:20 Nicolò Paganini dies in a house at Rue de la Préfecture 14 in Nice, Kingdom of Sardinia, aged 57 years and seven months. According to Paolo Agostino he dies “in the arms of his son who was alone in the apartment with him.” The cause of death may be tuberculosis combined with mercury poisoning. He was given mercury to cure the syphilis which he probably did not have.
May 28, 1840: The Bishop of Nice refuses a church burial and tolling of the bell for the remains of Nicolò Paganini because of the deceased’s attitude toward the Church.
June 1, 1840: Robert Schumann (29) files motions with the court in Dresden, charging Friedrich Wieck with defamation of character for his document of last 14 December and suing him for all the money that Clara (20) has earned on tour. The suit for the money will be settled out of court, but next April Wieck will be found guilty of slander, sentenced to 18 days in jail required to pay damages and court costs. (It is not known whether Wieck spends any time in jail.)
June 1, 1840: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (34) and her family depart Rome for Naples on their year-long visit to Italy.
June 4, 1840: While awaiting instructions of the king, the Governor of Genoa prohibits the entry of the mortal remains of Nicolò Paganini (†0).
June 5, 1840: After nine months of living with her mother in Berlin, Clara Wieck (20) returns to Leipzig.
June 7, 1840: King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia dies in Berlin and is succeeded by his son Friedrich Wilhelm IV.
June 8, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) gives the last of two performances with the Philharmonic Society in London. While he and Ole Bull play the Kreutzer Sonata, some hissing is heard from certain quarters of the audience. The performers stop and glare in the direction of the sound. Other audience members demonstrate their disapproval of the objections and Liszt and Bull complete the work.
June 9, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) uses the word “recital” for the first time, to describe his solo performance today in the Hanover Square Rooms, London. The word implies the absence of supporting musicians.
June 9, 1840: First Opium War: A third British warship arrives off Canton (Guangzhou) and a threatened British blockade now begins.
June 10, 1840: A young bartender named Edward Oxford fires two pistol shots into a carriage carrying Queen Victoria and Prince Albert near Buckingham Palace. Neither royal is injured. Oxford will be judged insane.
June 12, 1840: The World Anti-Slavery Convention meets for two days in London. During the meeting, JMW Turner exhibits his painting The Slave Ship at the Royal Academy.
June 13, 1840: Josephine Lang (25), ill with pleurisy, arrives in Kreuth (Wildbad Kreuth) for a whey cure. She was sent there by Caroline, Queen Mother of Bavaria.
June 16, 1840: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (34) and her family ascend to the summit of Mt. Vesuvius, first on horseback, then by means of sedan chairs. They are able to look down into the crater.
June 18, 1840: Margherita Barezzi Verdi (27), wife of Giuseppe Verdi (26) dies in Milan of encephalitis. Verdi has lost his wife and two young children in less than two years.
June 20, 1840: Samuel FB Morse receives a US patent for the telegraph.
June 21, 1840: First Opium War: An expeditionary force of 15 British warships reaches Macao.
June 25, 1840: Felix Mendelssohn (31) conducts music for the Leipzig Festival commemorating the 400th anniversary of the invention of the printing press. Mendelssohn, who was commissioned to compose music for the festival, directs the premieres of his Symphony no.2 “Lobgesang” for solo voices, chorus, organ and orchestra, and the Festgesang for male chorus to words of Prölss. The second section of this last work will later be adapted as Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
June 25, 1840: Der Maikäfer, a journal for “non-Philistines” is founded by the Maikäferbund, an organization of poets and art historians in Bonn, including Johanna Mockel Mathieux (Kinkel) (29).
June 28, 1840: The Bishop of Nice rejects an appeal by the executors of Nicolò Paganini’s (†0) estate for a Catholic burial. The body will spend the summer in the cellar of Count de Cessole. In September it will be transferred to a leper house.
June 30, 1840: Law scholar and poet Christian Reinhold Köstlin arrives in Kreuth (Wildbad Kreuth) for the cure. This evening, he hears Josephine Lang (25) performing one of her own songs. Fascinated, he asks to be introduced to her.
June 30, 1840: The transcendentalist magazine The Dial is first published in Boston. Most important in its creation is Ralph Waldo Emerson.
July 1, 1840: King Friedrich August II of Saxony offers Felix Mendelssohn (31) the post of Kapellmeister. The composer will decline.
July 1, 1840: Josephine Lang (25) is introduced to her future husband, Christian Reinhold Köstlin at Kreuth (Wildbad Kreuth). They are both there for the cure. They are immediately attracted to each other.
July 5, 1840: First Opium War: 15 British warships bombard Ting-hai (Dinghai), the capital of Chou-shan (Zhoushan) Island. The town is utterly destroyed and soldiers sent ashore to invest the town run amok with looting and vandalism. Some 2,000 Chinese are killed.
July 6, 1840: Carlist leader Rafael Cabrera and several thousand of his followers cross defeated into France.
July 6, 1840: The Blackwall Railway opens, serving London.
July 7, 1840: Friedrich Wieck files a declaration with the court which concedes that he can not substantiate his charge of drunkeness against Robert Schumann (30).
July 12, 1840: The first of Richard Wagner’s (27) essays entitled “German Music” appears in the Paris periodical Gazette musicale.
July 13, 1840: Josephine Lang (25) departs Kreuth (Wildbad Kreuth) to continue her cure in nearby Tegernsee. As she leaves, her future husband, the poet Reinhold Köstlin, hands her a new poem. Two days from now she will set it to music. He will write 54 poems this summer. 38 of these he gives to Lang. Over the next two years, she will set only four songs to poets other than Köstlin.
July 14, 1840: The Musical Journal of London notes, “Liszt (28) has been presented by the Philharmonic Society with an elegant Breakfast service, for doing that which would cause every young student to receive a severe reprimand, viz. thumping and partially destroying two very fine pianofortes.” (Williams, 132)
July 15, 1840: Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia sign an alliance in London which imposes terms on the Egyptian Mohammed Ali and supports Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecit I against him. The terms state that if Mohammed Ali will withdraw his troops from Syria and return the Turkish fleet, he will be recognized as Pasha of Egypt and Syria.
July 17, 1840: The first regular transatlantic mail service is inaugurated as the steamship Britannia arrives in Halifax, twelve days out of Liverpool. The service is run by Nova Scotian Samuel Cunard.
July 20, 1840: 23 delegates form the National Charter Association of Great Britain at a meeting in Manchester.
July 20, 1840: Antonio González y González replaces Evaristo Pérez de Castro Brito as Prime Minister of Spain.
July 21, 1840: A competition takes place on the Berlin-Jüterbog railroad between a British Stephenson locomotive and one built by the new foundry of August Borsig of Berlin. The German locomotive wins by ten minutes.
July 23, 1840: The General Assembly of Brazil declares 14-year-old Emperor Pedro II of age.
July 23, 1840: The British Parliament approves the Act of Union, uniting Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada.
July 26, 1840: The second of Richard Wagner’s (27) essays entitled “German Music” appears in the Paris periodical Gazette musicale.
July 28, 1840: During the tenth anniversary of the Revolution of 1830, Hector Berlioz (36) leads a 200-man band down the streets of Paris playing the premiere of his Grande symphonie funèbre et triomphale. The work is greeted with great enthusiasm.
August 6, 1840: King Ernst August of Hannover imposes a new constitution providing for increased power for the monarchy.
August 6, 1840: Louis Napoleon attempts a rising in Boulogne against the French monarchy but fails. He will be sentenced to life in prison.
August 10, 1840: The Municipal Corporations Act for Ireland receives Royal Assent by Queen Victoria. It brings a greater measure of democracy to the island.
August 11, 1840: Clara Wieck (20) performs at the Grand Ducal Court in Weimar. Among the guests are the Empress of Russia and several foreign dignitaries. Unfortunately, the royals talk through the entire program, and allow their dogs to bark at will.
August 11, 1840: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (34) and her family depart Naples on a steamboat for Genoa on their year long visit to Italy.
August 12, 1840: Valentin Ferraz y Barrau replaces Antonio González y González as Prime Minister of Spain.
August 13, 1840: At Tegernsee, Josephine Lang (25) performs her setting of Goethe’s Sie liebt mich for Reinhold Köstlin. The two openly declare love for each other.
August 14, 1840: Reinhold Köstlin departs Tegernsee without saying goodbye to Josephine Lang (25). He will not write poetry for five days, when he is in Innsbruck. He will travel to Italy until the academic year begins in September.
August 18, 1840: Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (34) and her family reach Milan from Genoa on their year long visit to Italy.
August 26, 1840: Stanislaw Moniuszko (21) marries Aleksandra Müller in the Church of Jesus Our Lord in Wilno (Vilnius).
August 29, 1840: Modesto Cortázar replaces Valentin Ferraz y Barrau as Prime Minister of Spain.
August 30, 1840: Yohannes III Tekle Giyorgis replaces Sahle Dengel Gebre Mesay as Emperor of Ethiopia.
September 1, 1840: The Madrid Junta declares against the regent Maria Cristina in favor of Espartero. Their extreme demands will cause her to abdicate.
September 5, 1840: Carl Törnebladh replaces Arvid Posse as Prime Minister for Justice of Sweden. Albrecht Ihre becomes acting Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs for Gustaf Stierneld.
September 5, 1840: Un giorno di regno, a melodramma giocoso by Giuseppe Verdi (26) to words of Romani after Pineu-Duval, is performed for the first time, in Teatro alla Scala, Milan directed by the composer. It is not successful and is not repeated.
September 10, 1840: A second passenger railway opens between Versailles and Paris, terminating at the Gare de l'Ouest (Gare Montparnasse).
September 11, 1840: British naval forces bombard Beirut and Sidon, attempting to force Mohammed Ali to submit to the Quadruple Alliance.
September 11, 1840: Vicente Sancho replaces Modesto Cortázar as Prime Minister of Spain. Sancho will never take office.
September 11, 1840: After more than a year away, traveling mostly in Italy, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (34) and her family arrive home in Berlin.
September 12, 1840: 10:00 After more than a year of legal wrangling with Friedrich Wieck, Robert Schumann (30) and Clara Wieck are married at the Gedächtniskirche in Schönefeld, near Leipzig, before a small group of family and friends. Today is the eve of Clara’s 21st birthday, at which time she will not require her father’s consent to marry.
September 16, 1840: Joaquín Baldomero Fernández Espartero, duque de la Victoria replaces Vicente Sancho as Prime Minister of Spain.
September 18, 1840: Felix Mendelssohn (31) arrives in London on his sixth trip to Britain. His shortest visit there, he will spend a week in Birmingham and a week in London conducting and performing on the piano and organ.
September 26, 1840: The organist of Exeter Cathedral, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (30) severely beats two of the cathedral choristers for practicing with the men.
September 26, 1840: Franz Liszt (28) gives the last of several concerts in his tour of southern England, in Brighton. He has been at it for six weeks.
October 1, 1840: Anton Bruckner (16) passes an entrance examination to teacher-training college in Linz.
October 2, 1840: Farewell to St. Petersburg, a cycle for voice and piano by Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (36) to words of Kukolnik, is reviewed in Northern Bee. The songs were first performed last summer.
October 7, 1840: King Willem I of the Netherlands and Grand Duke of Luxembourg abdicates his thrones in favor of his son, Willem II. He refused to grant constitutional reforms.
October 8, 1840: The first constitution for Hawaii goes into effect.
October 9, 1840: A combined Turkish (partly Albanian) and British force defeats the Egyptians at Beirut.
October 10, 1840: Direct Turkish rule over Syria is reinstated. It was annexed by Egypt in 1832.
October 12, 1840: Amidst calls for more liberal reforms, Queen María Cristina is removed as Spanish regent and replaced by Prime Minister Joaquín Baldomero Fernández Espartero, duque de la Victoria.
October 14, 1840: Maronite Christian leader Bashir Chehab II, Emir of Mount Lebanon and an ally of Mohammed Ali, surrenders to the British and goes into exile.
October 15, 1840: As King Louis-Philippe rides to his palace at St. Cloud on the Quai des Tuileries, Ennemond Marius Darmès aims a rifle at him and fires. The gun goes off in the would-be assassins hand. No one, except the shooter, is hurt.
October 20, 1840: Samuel Sebastian Wesley (30) is called before the Chapter of Exeter Cathedral to explain his beating of two boys on 26 September. He claims he had a right to punish the boys and offers no apology. The chapter recommends that he be suspended from his duties. This will never be carried out.
October 24, 1840: Texas paramilitaries destroy a Commanche village on the Colorado River in Runnels County. 130 people are killed.
October 28, 1840: Piano Quintet no.2 op.31 by Louise Farrenc (36) is performed for the first time, in Paris.
October 29, 1840: Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, duc de Dalmatie replaces Marie Joseph Louis Adolphe Thiers as Prime Minister of France. Thiers resigned after attempting to get more aid for Egyptian Viceroy Mohammed Ali.
October 29, 1840: Great Britain manages to end the French blockade of Buenos Aires by mediating an agreement whereby Argentina agrees to periodically pay French claims.
October 30, 1840: Josias von Bunsen, advisor to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, recommends to the king that Felix Mendelssohn (31) be called upon to help make Berlin the cultural center of Germany. He desires a musical educational institution, appropriate sacred music, and encouragement of old and new oratorios.
November 3, 1840: British forces bombard and capture Acre (Akko) forcing the Egyptians to quit Syria. British, Austrian, and Turkish troops land and invest the citadel and the city. The Egyptians will evacuate Syria.
November 5, 1840: By the Convention of Alexandria, Mohammed Ali agrees to the terms of the Treaty of London of 15 July.
November 5, 1840: Afghan forces surrender to the British ending the first Afghan War.
November 6, 1840: Hans Christian Andersen notes in his diary after a concert in Hamburg, “I was seeing Liszt (29) face to face! How great men resemble mountains--they look best at a distance, when there is still an atmosphere about them....There was something so spider like, so demonic about him! And as he sat there at the piano, pale and with his face full of passion, he seemed to me like a devil trying to play his soul free! Every tone flowed from his heart and soul--he looked to me to be on the rack.” (Celenza, 139-140)
November 13, 1840: Hector Berlioz (36) is imprisoned for 24 hours in the prison on the quai d’Austerlitz for failing to report for National Guard duty on 30 July. See 28 July 1840.
November 14, 1840: Grande scène espagnole for cello and orchestra by Jacob (Jacques) Offenbach (21) is performed for the first time, in Cologne.
November 18, 1840: Panama secedes from New Granada.
November 18, 1840: Papers read today and 2 December by Louis Agassiz, William Buckland, and Charles Lyell before the Geological Society in London establish the Ice Age model. It will not be widely accepted until the 1860s.
November 30, 1840: The Belle-Poule arrives in Cherbourg from St. Helena carrying the body of Emperor Napoléon I for reburial in Paris.
December 2, 1840: La favorite, an opéra by Gaetano Donizetti (43) to words of Royer and Vaëz after d’Arnaud, is performed for the first time, in the Paris Opéra. The initial response of the audience is a trifle frosty.
December 2, 1840: A month of voting in the United States presidential election concluding today ensures the victory of former Senator William Henry Harrison over President Martin Van Buren.
December 4, 1840: Richard Wagner (27) sends the score of Rienzi to August von Lüttichau, the director of the Dresden Opera.
December 4, 1840: The Prussian army adopts the “needle-gun” breech loading rifle of Johann Nikolaus von Dreyse as standard issue.
December 11, 1840: King Wilhelm IV of Prussia offers the directorship of a proposed Berlin music academy to Felix Mendelssohn (31).
December 12, 1840: La rose de Péronne, an opera by Adolphe Adam (37) to words of Leuven and d’Ennery (pseud. of Philippe), is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris.
December 13, 1840: Sara la Baigneuse for solo voices, chorus and orchestra by Hector Berlioz (37) to words of Hugo is performed for the first time, in the Paris Conservatoire. See 7 November 1834 and 22 October 1850.
December 15, 1840: The remains of Emperor Napoléon I, having been retrieved from St. Helena by the Prince de Joinville (son of King Louis-Philippe), arrive in Paris. The remains are paraded through the city in a four-story high vehicle, viewed by an estimated 800,000 people. In the presence of the royal family and many others (including Frédéric Chopin (30)), the Requiem of Mozart (†49) is performed in the chapel of Les Invalides. The remains are then are lowered into the vault.
December 16, 1840: In the midst of a tour of provincial Britain, Franz Liszt (29) crosses from Liverpool to Ireland.
December 26, 1840: Otto Nicolai’s (30) melodramma Gildippe ed Odoardo to words of Solera after Tasso, is performed for the first time, in Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa.