A CHRONOLOGICAL VIEW OF WESTERN MUSIC HISTORY IN THE CONTEXT OF WORLD EVENTS

January 1, 1851 – December 31, 1851

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January 1, 1851: Prince Leopold II of Lippe dies in Detmold and is replaced by his son Leopold III.
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January 8, 1851: In the basement of his Paris home, Jean Foucault uses his pendulum to become the first person to demonstrate that the Earth rotates.
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January 10, 1851: Richard Wagner (37) completes his essay Oper und Drama.
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January 11, 1851: In Kwangsi, Protestant Christian Hung Hsui-ch’uan declares himself King of the Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace, thus beginning the Taiping Rebellion.
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January 11, 1851: Neujahrslied op.144 for chorus and orchestra by Robert Schumann (40) to words of Rückert is performed for the first time, in Düsseldorf.
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January 14, 1851: Juan Bravo Murillo replaces Ramón María Narváez Campos, duque de Valencia as Prime Minister of Spain.
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January 15, 1851: Mariano Arista Luna replaces José Joaquín Antonio Florencio de Herrera y Ricardos as President of Mexico.
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January 19, 1851: Johanna Kinkel (40) boards ship and departs Bonn to join her husband in exile in England.
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January 20, 1851: Die vornehmen Dilettanten, oder Die Opernprobe, a komische Oper by Albert Lortzing (49) to his own words after Poisson (tr.Jünger), is performed for the first time, in the Stadttheater, Frankfurt-am-Main.
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January 21, 1851: Giacomo Meyerbeer (59) is elected a member of the Philharmonic Society of St. Petersburg.
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January 21, 1851: Gustav Albert Lortzing dies of a stroke at Luisenstraße 53 in Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia, aged 49 years, two months, and 29 days.
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January 24, 1851: After many problems with censors and many revisions, Rigoletto receives the approval of the Venetian Director General of Public Order.
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January 24, 1851: The mortal remains of Albert Lortzing are laid to rest in the Evangelische Friedhof der Sophiengemeinde II in Berlin. Among those paying respects is Giacomo Meyerbeer (59).
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January 24, 1851: Gaspare Luigi Pacifico Spontini dies in his new home (now on Via G. Spontini) at Maiolati, Papal States, of a heart ailment, aged 76 years, two months, and ten days. His mortal remains will be buried in the Church of Santo Stefano in Maiolati, later to be transferred to the Church of San Giovanni Battista, as was the composer’s wish.
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January 27, 1851: Nathaniel Hawthorne dates the preface to his The House of the Seven Gables in Lenox, Massachusetts.
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January 27, 1851: John James Audubon dies in New York at the age of 65.
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February 1, 1851: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley dies in London at the age of 53.
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February 3, 1851: Jean Foucault presents the results of his pendulum experiments to the French Academy.
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February 4, 1851: Maskenfest-Quadrille op.92 by Johann Strauss (25) is performed for the first time, in the Redoutensaal, Vienna.
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February 5, 1851: A series of articles about Fryderyk Chopin (†1) written by Franz Liszt (39) begins appearing in La France musicale. They will run through 17 August. Next year they will be put together into the first biography of the composer called simply Frédéric Chopin.
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February 6, 1851: Symphony no.3 “Rhenish” by Robert Schumann (40) is performed for the first time, in Düsseldorf, directed by the composer.
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February 10, 1851: Orakel-Sprüche op.90, a waltz by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
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February 12, 1851: Gold is discovered by Edward Hargraves near Bathurst, New South Wales. This precipitates an influx of immigration into Australia.
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February 15, 1851: Federal authorities in Boston arrest Frederick “Shadrach” Minkins as a runaway slave. A mob storms the courtroom and rescues Minkins who will eventually get to Canada.
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February 17, 1851: Slaven-Ball-Quadrille op.88 by Johann Strauss (25) is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
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February 18, 1851: Aurora-Ball-Tänze op.87, a waltz by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
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February 19, 1851: Giuseppe Verdi (37) arrives in Venice to oversee the premiere of Rigoletto.
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February 20, 1851: Giacomo Meyerbeer (59) conducts at a concert to benefit the family of Albert Lortzing (†0) in Berlin. It is well attended.
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February 26, 1851: Rhadamantus-Klänge op.94, a waltz by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
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February 28, 1851: Incidental music to Maquet and Lacroix’ drame en vers Valéria by Jacques Offenbach (31) is performed for the first time, at the Comédie-Française, Paris.
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March 4, 1851: The 32nd Congress of the United States convenes in Washington. Opposition Democrats continue to hold majorities in both houses.
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March 6, 1851: Hector Berlioz (47) composes his application for the chair vacated by Gaspare Spontini (†0) at the Institute.
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March 11, 1851: Rigoletto, a melodramma by Giuseppe Verdi (37) to words of Piave after Hugo, is performed for the first time, in Teatro La Fenice, Venice directed by the composer. It is a great success and runs for 13 performances.
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March 12, 1851: A review of Rigoletto appearing in the Gazzetta di Venezia reads in part, “Yesterday we were almost overwhelmed by its originality...originality in music, in the style, even in the form of the pieces; and we did not comprehend it in its entirety...Never was the eloquence of sound more powerful.”
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March 13, 1851: Two new works by Robert Schumann (40) are performed for the first time, in Düsseldforf: Nachtlied op.108 for chorus and orchestra to words of Hebbel, and the overture Die Braut von Messina. The overture is not successful and Schumann’s originally warm reception in Düsseldorf is beginning to erode with criticisms of his conducting.
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March 15, 1851: The French government enacts a law named after Minister of Education Le comte Frédéric Alfred Pierre de Falloux du Coudray which brings back Church control over education.
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March 16, 1851: A concordat between Spain and the Vatican allows government expropriation of church property under previous liberal regimes in return for state payment of secular clergy and a legalized basis for its operations. The Church also gains control over education and the press.
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March 22, 1851: Ambroise Thomas (39) is elected to Gaspare Spontini’s (†0) chair at the Institute. Hector Berlioz (47) comes in third.
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March 24, 1851: A Piano Trio op.15/1 by Anton Rubinstein (21) is performed for the first time, in Bernadaki Hall, St. Petersburg, the composer at the keyboard.
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March 25, 1851: The Pleyel piano factory in Paris suffers a devastating fire, throwing hundreds of people out of work. A benefit concert for the workers will be organized by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (21).
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March 25, 1851: Violin Sonata no.2 op.39 by Louise Farrenc (46) is performed for the first time, in Paris.
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March 25, 1851: La belle voyageuse for female chorus and orchestra by Hector Berlioz (47) to words of Gounet after Moore is performed for the first time, at Salle Sainte Cécile, Paris along with the premiere of Berlioz’ La menace des Francs for double chorus and orchestra to anonymous words. Both are conducted by the composer
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March 27, 1851: Paul Marie Théodore Vincent d’Indy is born at 45 rue de Grenelle in Paris, Republic of France, the first child born to Antonin d’Indy, a wealthy aristocrat, and Matilde de Chabrol-Crousol, also of an aristocratic family. Matilde, age 21, does not survive the birth. Antonin d’Indy will marry again in 1855, a union which will produce three more children.
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April 3, 1851: Hector Berlioz (47) writes in the Journal des débats, “Monsieur Gottschalk (21) is one of the few now living who possess all the different elements which make a pianist of sovereign power.”
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April 3, 1851: Thomas Sims, a runaway slave from Savannah, is arrested in Boston on a charge of disturbing the peace and he is turned over to federal marshals.
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April 3, 1851: King Nangklao (Rama III) of Krung Thep (Thailand) dies in Bangkok and is succeeded by his half-brother Mongkut (Rama IV).
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April 4, 1851: Abolitionists arriving at the federal court house in Boston, intent on freeing escapaed slave Thomas Sims, find the building an armed camp and the entire city police force surrounding the building.
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April 10, 1851: Léon Faucher replaces Alphonse Henri, Comte d’Hautpoul as Prime Minister of France.
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April 12, 1851: Escaped slave Thomas Sims is marched to the Boston waterfront by 300 police armed with sabers. They are there to thwart any rescue attempt by enraged abolitionists. He is put on a ship and sent back into bondage.
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April 16, 1851: Sapho, an opéra by Charles Gounod (32) to words of Augier, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra with Pauline Viardot (29) in the leading role. The audience is generally pleased, but it will be a financial failure.
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April 26, 1851: António José de Sousa Manuel e Meneses Severim de Noronha, duque de Terceira, marques e conde de Vila-Flor replaces António Bernardo da Costa Cabral, conde de Tomar as Prime Minister of Portugal.
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April 26, 1851: Franz Liszt (39) takes over sole direction of the Weimar Hofkapelle.
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April 26, 1851: Messe de l’orphéon for four male voices and orchestra by Adolphe Adam (47), Fromental Halévy (51), Ambroise Thomas (39), and Antoine Louis Clapisson is performed for the first time, in the Cathedral of Meaux.
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May 1, 1851: While at his Bologna home entertaining friends, Gioachino Rossini (59) is visited by the Austrian governor Count Nobili. As the count enters, Rossini’s friends leave and the composer receives his guest alone.
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May 1, 1851: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations is officially opened in London by Queen Victoria. For this event, the Crystal Palace was built.
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May 1, 1851: João Carlos Gregório Domingues Vicente Francisco de Saldanha Oliveira e Daun, duque, marques e conde de Saldanha replaces António José de Sousa Manuel e Meneses Severim de Noronha, duque de Terceira, marques e conde de Vila-Flor as Prime Minister of Portugal.
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May 3, 1851: 23:00 Fire breaks out in San Francisco. Over the next ten hours, 2,000 buildings are destroyed, which constitutes most of the city. The flames are so bright they can be seen in Monterey, 140 km away.
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May 5, 1851: Gioachino Rossini (59) leaves Bologna never to return.
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May 6, 1851: John Gorrie of Appalachicola, Florida, is awarded a US patent for his ice making machine.
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May 6, 1851: Linus Yale, Jr. of Newport, New York receives his first of 20 US patents for improvements to locks.
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May 10, 1851: Hector Berlioz (47) crosses the Channel into England as one of twelve official French delegates to the Great Exhibition in London.
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May 12, 1851: Press censorship is reintroduced in Prussia.
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May 15, 1851: Prussia recognizes the German Confederation again.
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May 16, 1851: Zerline, ou La corbeille d’oranges, an opéra by Daniel Auber (69) to words of Scribe, is performed for the first time, in the Paris Opéra.
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May 18, 1851: Franz Schubert’s (†22) male vocal quartet Naturgenuss D.422 to words of Matthisson is performed for the first time, in Vienna.
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May 22, 1851: Ascribe to the Lord for chorus and organ by Samuel Sebastian Wesley (40) to words of the Bible is performed for the first time, in Winchester Cathedral, the composer at the keyboard.
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May 23, 1851: Promenade-Quadrille op.98 by Johann Strauss (25) is performed for the first time, in the Volksgarten, Vienna.
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May 26, 1851: Four people are killed and dozens wounded as a nativist mob attacks German immigrants in Hoboken, New Jersey during Pentecost celebrations.
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May 31, 1851: Für solchen König Blut und Leben, a song for chorus and orchestra by Giacomo Meyerbeer (59) to words of Rellstab, inserted into the composer’s opera Ein Feldlager in Schlesien on the day of the unveiling of Christian Daniel Rauch’s monument to Friedrich the Great, is performed for the first time, in Berlin. Meyerbeer and Rauch are called to King Friedrich Wilhelm’s box after the performance and are highly praised by the monarch.
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June 5, 1851: Raymond, ou Le secret de la reine, an opéra comique by Ambroise Thomas (39) to words of Rosier and de Leuven, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre Favart, Paris.
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June 8, 1851: Hector Berlioz (47) gets into the annual Charity Children’s service in St. Paul’s, London on a pass from the organist, John Goss. He pretends to be a member of the chorus and proceeds to the organ loft. He is given a surplice and a bass part. He is overwhelmed by the experience.
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June 9, 1851: Steht auf und empfangt mit Feiergesang for solo voices, chorus and orchestra by Giacomo Meyerbeer (59) to words of Kopisch is performed for the first time, in honor of the sculptor Christian Rauch who created the monument unveiled 31 May 1851. Meyerbeer conducts his composition.
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June 13, 1851: Idyllen op.95, a waltz by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in the Volksgarten, Vienna.
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June 14, 1851: Herrmann-Polka op.91 by Johann Strauss (25) is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
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June 15, 1851: Serialization of Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe begins in National Era, Washington.
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June 15, 1851: Jacob Fussell opens the first large-scale ice cream producing factory, in Baltimore.
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July 1, 1851: The act of the British government separating Victoria from New South Wales goes into effect.
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July 1, 1851: Serial killer Hélène Jégado is arrested in Rennes.
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July 3, 1851: Florinda, an opera by Sigismond Thalberg (39), is performed for the first time, in London. It is not well received.
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July 4, 1851: About 50 men in Puerto Principe declare Cuba’s independence from Spain.
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July 6, 1851: Der Rose Pilgerfahrt for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Robert Schumann (41) to words of Horn is performed for the first time, privately, at the Schumann home in Düsseldorf.  See 5 February 1852.
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July 7, 1851: Kaiser-Jäger-Marsch op.93 and the waltz Gambrinus-Tänze op.97 by Johann Strauss (25) are performed for the first time, in the Bierhalle Fünfhaus, Vienna.
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July 8, 1851: At a farewell party for Lowell Mason (59) and his wife at Winter Street Church in Boston, Mason gives a speech on his work in church music. The Masons are moving to New York.
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July 10, 1851: Louis Daguerre dies in Bry-sur-Marne at the age of 63.
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July 14, 1851: The steamer Prometheus departs New York at the beginning of the first run of a route to the Pacific Coast via an overland journey through Nicaragua. The capitalist responsible for the venture, Cornelius Vanderbilt, is on board.
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July 15, 1851: Giacomo Meyerbeer (59) is appointed to the senate of the Berlin Academy of Arts.
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July 15, 1851: As part of the Great Exhibition in London, the first international chess tournament concludes. Adolf Anderssen of Breslau is the victor over 15 international stars, and thus is given the title of unofficial world chess champion.
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July 19, 1851: Robert (41) and Clara (31) Schumann begin a pleasure journey along the Rhine as far as Switzerland. He will remember it as the best trip of their lives together.
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July 20, 1851: Jerusalem for two pianos by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (22) is performed for the first time, in Bordeaux.
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July 23, 1851: In the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, two bands of Dakota Indians turn over all of their land in Iowa and most of their land in Minnesota to the United States in return for $1,665,000 in cash and annuities.
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July 28, 1851: Camille Saint-Saëns (15) wins first prize in organ at the Paris Conservatoire. He so outdistances his competition that neither second prize nor honorable mention are awarded.
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July 28, 1851: Hector Berlioz (47) departs London for Paris.
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July 28, 1851: A photographer named Berkowski makes the first photographic image of a solar eclipse, at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg (Kaliningrad). It is a daguerreotype. (Berkowski’s first name is unknown)
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August 5, 1851: In the Treaty of Mendota, two bands of Dakota Indians cede parts of the Minnesota Territory to the United States for $1,410,000 in cash and annuities.
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August 6, 1851: Richard Wagner (38) and Theodor Uhlig complete a walking tour from Brunnen, Switzerland which included the Surenen Pass. It is at this point that he adds Das Rheingold and Die Walküre to his Nibelung concept.
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August 6, 1851: Les nations, a cantata by Adolphe Adam (48) to words of Banville, is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra.
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August 11, 1851: General Narciso López leads an expedition of about 435 Spanish expatriates and Americans to Cuba to attempt to interest Cubans in insurrection against Spanish rule. They land at Bahía Honda, about 65 km from Havana.
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August 12, 1851: Isaac Merit Singer receives a US patent for a sewing machine.
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August 13, 1851: Spanish troops defeat the North American “invasion” of Cuba at Las Pozas.
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August 16, 1851: 51 Americans from the López expedition are executed by firing squad in Havana.
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August 19, 1851: Capt. Gennadi Nevelskoy discovers that the Amur River flows directly into the Pacific Ocean. He raises the Russian flag on Sakhalin Island, directly across from the river’s mouth, thus claiming the island for Russia. For his efforts, he will be demoted for acting without orders. However, the Russian government keeps the island.
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August 20, 1851: Proclamations in Vienna vest supreme power for the Austrian Empire in the Emperor as autocrat.
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August 21, 1851: A mob, angry at the executions of 16 August, destroys the Spanish consulate in New Orleans.
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August 22, 1851: A sailing race takes place around the Isle of Wight for the prize of a large, gaudy cup to be named after the winning boat. The victor, over all 14 British entries, is the America.
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August 22, 1851: Viribus unitis op.96, a march by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in the Volksgarten, Vienna for the 21st birthday of the Kaiser.
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August 23, 1851: The Diet of the German Confederation abolishes fundamental rights granted in 1848.
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August 25, 1851: A meeting of the Düsseldorf Gesangverein criticizes the conducting of Robert Schumann (41) calling him uncommunicative.
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August 27, 1851: Frauenkäferln op.99, a waltz by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in Ungers Casino, Vienna.
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August 31, 1851: Franz Liszt (39), Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein, and her daughter Marie arrive in Düsseldorf and meet with Robert (41) and Clara (31) Schumann. They will meet each of the next three days. Clara tells her diary, “He played, as always, with truly diabolical bravura--he masters the piano like a demon (I can’t put it any other way...)--but, oh, his compositions, they were simply too dreadful! When a youngster writes that sort of stuff he can be forgiven because of his youth, but what can one say when a grown man is still so blind...It is really depressing and made us both feel quite sad. Liszt himself seemed taken aback when we said nothing, but one cannot say anything when one feels so profoundly indignant.” (Williams, 276)
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September 1, 1851: Narciso López, who led filibusters to invade Cuba, is executed in Havana.
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September 4, 1851: A hurricane strikes Puerto Rico killing more than 100 people.
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September 14, 1851: James Fenimore Cooper dies in Cooperstown, New York at the age of 61.
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September 15, 1851: Richard Wagner (38) begins a cure at Dr. Zacharia Brunner’s Hydrotherapy Institute at Albisbrunn, south of Zürich. He will stay here until 23 November during which time he will work his “Siegfried” project into the idea of four separate works and begin writing the prose sketches of the first two.
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September 18, 1851: The New York Daily Times publishes for the first time.
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September 21, 1851: Gyula Andrássy is ceremonially hanged in effigy by the Austrian government for his part in the Hungarian uprising.
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September 23, 1851: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (22) gives his first concert after crossing from France into Spain, at San Sebastián.
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September 25, 1851: The Taiping army attacks out of its defensive positions and lays siege to the city of Yung-an (Yong’an), west of Foochow (Fuzhou).
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September 27, 1851: The Théâtre-Historiques, Paris, after refurbishment, is reopened for opera as the Théâtre-Lyrique.
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October 1, 1851: Old Folks at Home, a song by Stephen Foster (25), is published. Better known as Swanee River, Foster will sell the authorship rights to EP Christy. See 25 May 1852.
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October 3, 1851: Vivat! op.103, a quadrille by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in the Volksgarten, Vienna.
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October 9, 1851: Jules Massenet (9) takes his entrance examination at the Paris Conservatoire before a panel of judges including Daniel Auber (69), Fromental Halévy (52), and Ambroise Thomas (40). He is not admitted. See 10 January 1853.
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October 10, 1851: Naturalized British subject Paul Julius, Baron von Reuter opens a telegraph office near the London stock exchange in order to transmit stock quotes from London to Paris by way of the new undersea cable being laid across the English Channel. It is the beginning of Reuter’s News Agency.
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October 12, 1851: Mephistos Höllenrufe op.101, a waltz by Johann Strauss (25), is performed for the first time, in the Volksgarten, Vienna.
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October 15, 1851: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations closes in London. In the six months it was open, over 6,000,000 people visited the site.
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October 23, 1851: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (22) arrives in Madrid on his Spanish concert tour.
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October 24, 1851: English astronomer William Lassell discovers Ariel and Umbriel, two moons of Uranus, from his private observatory near Liverpool.
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October 31, 1851: Peter II Petrovic Nejegos, Prince-Bishop of Montenegro dies and is succeeded by his son, Danilo II Petrovic Nejegos.
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November 4, 1851: Incidental music to Sandeau and Regnier’s comédie Mademoiselle de la Seiglière by Jacques Offenbach (32) is performed for the first time, at the Comédie-Française, Paris.
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November 8, 1851: Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (47) signs and registers his will. He leaves all of his worldly possessions to his sister, Lyudmila Ivanovna Shestakova.
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November 9, 1851: With the blessing of the Governor of Indiana, officials from Kentucky kidnap Rev. Calvin Fairbank in Jeffersonville and remove him to their state to stand trial for aiding the escape of a slave. He will be sentenced to 15 years in prison.
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November 13, 1851: The first submarine cable link is completed from Dover to Calais. A telegraph may now be sent directly between London and Paris.
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November 13, 1851: The group of settlers led by Arthur Denny lands at Alki Point on Puget Sound, beginning a settlement which one day will be called Seattle.
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November 13, 1851: The railway between Moscow and St. Petersburg officially opens.
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November 14, 1851: Moby Dick by Herman Melville is published in New York.
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November 16, 1851: Georges Bizet (13) is presented with the Second Prize in Piano at the Paris Conservatoire.
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November 17, 1851: As part of an attempt to cool tensions between Spain and the United States after the events of last August, Louis Moreau Gottschalk (22) is invited by the royal family to a soiree at the palace in Madrid.
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November 18, 1851: King Ernst August II of Hannover dies in Herrenhausen and is succeeded by his son Georg V.
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November 21, 1851: When Prometheus, owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt, tries to leave the British port of Greytown (San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua) without paying harbor fees, HMS Express fires three shots across her bow, forcing her to pay. Vanderbilt is aboard the Prometheus. The US will protest.
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November 21, 1851: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (22) gives his first recital in Madrid, to an invited audience.
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November 24, 1851: In Berlin, Giacomo Meyerbeer (59) is informed that he has been attacked by Richard Wagner (38) in his Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft. He is “deeply demoralized” and finds a manuscript copy of an essay that Wagner gave him ten years ago called Über den Standpunkt der Musik Meyerbeers in which he praises Meyerbeer’s music.
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December 1, 1851: Clara Schumann (32) gives birth to a seventh child, Eugenie, in Düsseldorf.
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December 2, 1851: On the 47th anniversary of the coronation of Napoléon I and the 46th anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz, French President Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte effects a coup d’etat. Nearly all republican leaders are arrested and the National Assembly is dissolved. Only sporadic resistance takes place.
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December 3, 1851: A day after the coup d'état, French soldiers fire into a crowd of mostly women and children in Paris. What republicans are left flee the country.
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December 5, 1851: By this date, Louis-Napoléon has succeeded in eliminating all opposition to his coup d’etat.
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December 5, 1851: US President Millard Fillmore fetes Lajos Kossuth at the White House.
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December 6, 1851: The trial of Hélène Jégado begins in Rennes. She is charged with three murders, three attempted murders, and theft, but is suspected in the poisoning deaths of 23 people over 18 years.
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December 9, 1851: Inspired by the success of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in France, Prime Minister Juan Bravo Murillo of Spain dissolves the Cortes, arrests his political opponents, and closes their newspapers.
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December 9, 1851: Hector Berlioz (47) writes of President Bonaparte, “this coup d’etat is the work of a master; indeed, it is a veritable masterpiece.” (Bloom 1998, 123)
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December 11, 1851: Spain informs the American minister in Madrid that it will pardon all Americans held in Spain and Cuba.
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December 13, 1851: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (22) gives his first public concert in Madrid, at the Coliseo del Circo. His concerts are very successful with the public and become a symbol of Spain-United States reconciliation.
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December 19, 1851: Joseph Mallord William Turner dies in London at the age of 76.
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December 20, 1851: The published results of a plebiscite in France authorize a ten-year term for Louis Napoleon by 92% in favor.
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December 20, 1851: The Illustrated London News reports that sometime in late November or early December two waterspouts came on land to become tornadoes on Sicily near Marsala. They returned to the sea at Castellamare but not before destroying half the town. In all, about 500 people were killed.
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December 21, 1851: Lowell Mason (59) and his wife sail for Liverpool and their second European trip.
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December 24, 1851: Fire destroys 35,000 books in the Library of Congress in Washington.
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December 31, 1851: The Austrian constitution is abolished by order of the Emperor. All political reforms, except the end of serfdom, are rescinded. A patent is issued declaring Emperor Franz Joseph II an absolute monarch.