January 2, 1859: Overture on Three Russian Themes by Mily Balakirev is performed for the first time, at St. Petersburg University on the composer’s 22nd birthday.
January 4, 1859: Tokugawa Iemochi becomes Shogun in Japan.
January 14, 1859: Hans von Bülow conducts Die Ideale by Franz Liszt (47) at the Berlin Singakademie. At the conclusion, hisses are heard. Bülow leaves, then returns and announces to the audience “I request that the hissers leave the hall, since it is not customary to hiss here.” Silence fills the hall. He then continues with the concert.
January 15, 1859: The National Portrait Gallery is opened to the public in Westminster.
January 15, 1859: Giuseppe Verdi (45) arrives in Rome to oversee the premiere of Un ballo in maschera.
January 19, 1859: A treaty of alliance is signed in Turin between France and Sardinia as a prelude to attempts to unify Italy.
January 21, 1859: José Mariano de Salas replaces Manuel Robles Pezuela as acting President of Mexico.
January 22, 1859: Moldavia chooses Alexander Cuza as their prince.
January 22, 1859: Piano Concerto no.1 by Johannes Brahms (25) is performed publicly for the first time, in the Royal Theatre, Hannover, the composer at the piano, Joseph Joachim conducting. The public and critical reaction is polite but confused.
January 23, 1859: Félix María Zuloaga Trillo replaces José Mariano de Salas as acting President of Mexico.
January 25, 1859: Hell und Voll op.216, a waltz by Johann Strauss (33), is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
January 27, 1859: Johannes Brahms (25) plays his First Piano Concerto for the second time, before a full house in Leipzig. At the conclusion, three people applaud. Many hisses are heard.
January 30, 1859: Clotilde, 15-year-old daughter of King Vittorio Emanuele of Sardinia, marries the first cousin of Emperor Napoléon III in the Royal Chapel at Turin. The marriage is widely seen as an alliance by France and Sardinia against Austria.
January 31, 1859: Irrlichter op.218, a waltz by Johann Strauss (33), is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
February 1, 1859: Adam Bede by George Eliot is published.
February 1, 1859: On Liberty by John Stuart Mill is published this month.
February 1, 1859: Victor August Herbert is born in Dublin, United Kingdom, the only child of Edward Herbert, a barrister, and Fanny Lover, the daughter of Samuel Lover, poet, painter, novelist, and composer. Fanny Herbert will have another child by a subsequent marriage.
February 5, 1859: Wallachians choose Alexander Cuza as their prince, thus making him the first Prince of Romania.
February 8, 1859: Count Wielhorsky invites some members of the now defunct Symphonic Society to his St. Petersburg home in an effort to revive the group. It will become the Russian Musical Society.
February 8, 1859: Promotionen op.221, a waltz by Johann Strauss (33), is performed for the first time, in the Sophiensaal, Vienna.
February 14, 1859: Franz Liszt (47) writes to Grand Duke Carl Alexander of Weimar resigning his post as Kapellmeister.
February 14, 1859: Oregon becomes the 33rd state of the United States.
February 16, 1859: Following the recommendation of a commission he appointed in 1858, the French Minister of the Interior proclaims that the universal pitch, called “diapason normal”, shall be 870 vps at 15° C. (A435). A machine built to produce this pitch is housed in a glass case at the Paris Conservatoire.
February 17, 1859: After several title changes and struggles with censors, Un ballo in maschera, a melodramma by Giuseppe Verdi (45) to words of Somma after Scribe, is performed for the first time, at Teatro Apollo, Rome. The public is appreciative, the critics mixed.
February 18, 1859: French forces occupy Saigon.
February 22, 1859: Auroraball-Polka op.219 by Johann Strauss (33) is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
February 27, 1859: Schwungräder op.223, a waltz by Johann Strauss (33), is performed for the first time, in the Redoutensaal, Vienna.
March 4, 1859: The 36th Congress of the United States convenes in Washington. The Democratic Party retains control of the Senate but the Republican Party has become the largest bloc in the House of Representatives, coming five seats short of a majority. They will organize the House.
March 7, 1859: Deutsche op.220, a waltz by Johann Strauss (33), is performed for the first time, in the Sperl Ballroom, Vienna.
March 11, 1859: At a dinner party before his departure from Rome, Giuseppe Verdi (45) announces his intention to retire.
March 12, 1859: The prelude to Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner (45) is performed for the first time, in Prague, conducted by Hans von Bülow. This is the version with a concert ending by von Bülow. See 25 January 1860.
March 14, 1859: In a Boston school, Thomas Wall, a Catholic boy, refuses to participate in the daily reading from the Protestant Bible. He is whipped for more than 30 minutes.
March 15, 1859: Over 300 Catholic students in the Boston schools refuse to read the required scripture from the Protestant Bible. They are all immediately suspended and will not be allowed back until they agree to participate in the required readings. In the meantime, they could be arrested for truancy. The incident leads to the establishment of a Catholic school system in Boston.
March 16, 1859: António José de Sousa Manuel e Meneses Severim de Noronha, duque de Terceira, marquês e conde de Vila-Flor replaces Nuno José Severo de Mendoça Rolim de Moura Bareto, marquês de Loulé, conde de Vale de Reis as Prime Minister of Portugal.
March 19, 1859: Faust, an opéra dialogué by Charles Gounod (40) to words of Barbier and Carré after Goethe, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre-Lyrique, Paris. Among the onlookers are Hector Berlioz (55), Daniel Auber (77), and Eugène Delacroix. The timpanist is a Conservatoire student named Jules Massenet (16). The critics are undecided, but it does establish Gounod’s reputation.
March 24, 1859: Six days after finishing Act II of Tristan und Isolde, Richard Wagner (45) is obliged to leave Venice due to the impending war between Sardinia, France, and Austria. Afraid of being cut off from Switzerland, he goes to Lucerne and eventually to Paris.
March 27, 1859: Karl, Baron Schrenk replaces Karl Ludwig Heinrich, Baron Pfordten as government leader of Bavaria.
March 28, 1859: For the first time, selected Russian Jews are allowed to live with their families outside the Pale.
March 28, 1859: Serenade in D op.11 by Johannes Brahms (25) is performed for the first time, in the version for small orchestra, in the Wörmerscher Saal, Hamburg. See 3 March 1860.
April 3, 1859: Franz Schubert’s (†30) Gebet D.815 for vocal quartet and piano to words of Fouqué is performed for the first time, at the Redoutensaal, Vienna.
April 4, 1859: Le pardon de Ploërmel, an opéra comique by Giacomo Meyerbeer (67) to words of Barbier and Carré, is performed for the first time, at the Théâtre Favart, Paris. Emperor Napoléon III and Empress Eugénie attend. Critics are enthusiastic.
April 4, 1859: Daniel D. Emmet, together with Bryant’s Minstrels, perform his newly composed song “Dixie” for the first time, at Mechanics Hall, New York City.
April 4, 1859: A complete Wagner (45) opera is staged in the United States for the first time when Tannhäuser is produced in the Stadt Theatre, New York.
April 5, 1859: Charles Darwin sends the first three chapters of The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection to his publisher.
April 7, 1859: United States ambassador Robert Milligan McLane presents his credentials to President Benito Juárez at Vera Cruz, thus conferring recognition on the liberal government.
April 9, 1859: Huldigungsmarsch by Franz Liszt (47) is performed for the first time, in Weimar conducted by the composer.
April 9, 1859: Samuel Clemens is licensed as a pilot of Mississippi Steamboats in the District of St. Louis, after completing a two-year apprenticeship.
April 10, 1859: Emperor Franz Joseph II inducts Franz Liszt (47) into the Order of the Iron Crown, third class. This gives him the right to petition the Emperor for a knighthood. As soon as the news reaches Liszt in Weimar later this month, he will.
April 16, 1859: Alexis de Tocqueville dies in Cannes at the age of 53.
April 19, 1859: Katerina Smetana, wife of the composer Bedrich Smetana (35), dies in Dresden, on their way to Prague.
April 23, 1859: Austria demands that Sardinia disarm within three days.
April 25, 1859: The official groundbreaking for the Suez Canal takes place in Port Said. The work is directed by the French diplomat Ferdinand Marie, Vicomte de Lesseps.
April 26, 1859: Sardinian Prime Minister Count Cavour replies to the Austrian ultimatum by rejecting it. French Emperor Napoléon III sends troops to Sardinia to aid his ally in the face of the Austrian ultimatum.
April 27, 1859: Revolution against Austrian rule begins in Tuscany. A provisional government is set up under Ubaldino Peruzzi. Grand Duke Leopoldo II goes into exile.
April 28, 1859: Revolution against Austrian rule begins in Modena.
April 28, 1859: The American clipper SV Pomona, out of Liverpool, goes aground in bad weather off Ballyconigar (Blackwater), County Wexford, Ireland. About 400 people are lost.
April 29, 1859: Austrian forces cross the River Ticino and invade Sardinian territory.
April 30, 1859: All the Year Round begins a serialization of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
May 1, 1859: Revolution against Austrian rule begins in Parma.
May 1, 1859: Nachtigall-Polka op.222 by Johann Strauss (33) is performed for the first time, in Ungers Casino, Vienna.
May 3, 1859: In response to the Austrian attack on its ally Sardinia, France declares war on Austria.
May 10, 1859: Sardinia takes over the administration of Tuscany.
May 13, 1859: An official charter for the Russian Musical Society is granted for “the development of musical education and musical taste in Russia and the encouragement of native talents.” (Taylor, 83)
May 17, 1859: The first Australian rules for football are drawn up at the Melbourne Football Club.
May 18, 1859: Three weeks of voting concludes in the British general election. The Whig Party of Viscount Palmerston loses 21 seats but retains a comfortable majority.
May 20, 1859: French and Sardinian forces defeat Austrians at Montebello.
May 21, 1859: At his villa, Sant’Agata, Giuseppe Verdi (45) can hear the sound of the Austrian assault on Piacenza, some 30 km away.
May 22, 1859: King Ferdinando II of the Two Sicilies dies in Caserta and is succeeded by his son, Francesco II.
May 25, 1859: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (19) graduates from the School of Jurisprudence, St. Petersburg.
May 25, 1859: Italian forces under Garibaldi defeat the Austrians at Varese, 50 km northwest of Milan.
May 27, 1859: Italian forces under Garibaldi defeat the Austrians at Como, 20 km east of Varese.
May 30, 1859: French and Sardinian forces defeat the Austrians at Palestro.
May 31, 1859: The Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster is started for the first time.
June 4, 1859: A joint Franco-Sardinian force defeats the Austrians at Magenta, opening the road to Milan. The victory so cheers the French that Parisian dressmakers apply the name of the battle to a new shade of red.
June 5, 1859: Orphée aux enfers by Jacques Offenbach (39) ends its first run of 228 performances at the Bouffes-Parisiens. It could continue but Offenbach decides to give it a rest, mostly due to the exhaustion of the performers.
June 5, 1859: La nuit de Noël, for four male voices by Léo Delibes (23) to words of Gille, is performed for the first time, in Lisieux, France.
June 6, 1859: Queen Victoria signs Letters Patent creating a mechanism for the separation of Queensland from New South Wales.
June 6, 1859: 28 women gather at the home of one of them in Hamburg. They are from the vocal academy of Carl Grädener and have assembled at the request of Grädener’s friend, Johannes Brahms (26). Brahms wants to run through some works involving women’s voices that he recently composed. They rehearse Ave Maria op.12, O bone Jesu op.37/1, and Adoramus te op.37/2. There are two subsequent rehearsals, much to the delight of the women. These will turn into a regular weekly rehearsal, beginning the Hamburg Frauenchor, directed by Brahms.
June 7, 1859: Italie, a cantata by Fromental Halévy (60) to words of Saint-Georges, is performed for the first time, at the Opéra-Comique, Paris. It is part of three days of festivities celebrating the French victory in Italy.
June 8, 1859: Emperor Napoléon III and King Vittorio Emanuele enter Milan amidst great cheering and excitement, while French and Sardinian forces capture Parma from the Austrians.
June 8, 1859: L’omelette à la Follembuche, an opérette bouffe by Léo Delibes (23) to words of Labiche and Michel, is performed for the first time, at the Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris.
June 8, 1859: On about this date, gold miners Peter O'Riley and Pat McLaughlin discover the Comstock Lode on Mt. Davidson, near Virginia City, Utah Territory. It is the first important source of silver in the United States and will lead to statehood for Nevada.
June 9, 1859: A provisional Sardinian government for Lombardy is constituted.
June 11, 1859: Clemens Wenzel Lothar, Count Metternich-Winneburg Portella dies in Vienna at the age of 86.
June 11, 1859: French and Sardinian troops begin entering Piacenza to general rejoicing. Among the soldiers is Giuseppe Montanelli who was one of the authors of the libretto to Giuseppe Verdi’s (45) Simon Boccanegra.
June 12, 1859: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (30) gives the first of twelve concerts in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe.
June 13, 1859: The Duchy of Guastalla, the Duchy of Massa, and the Principality of Carrara are annexed by Modena.
June 14, 1859: Jews gain full legal equality in Modena.
June 15, 1859: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (19) is appointed to a position in the Russian Ministry of Justice, St. Petersburg.
June 17, 1859: Parma and Piacenza come under the administration of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
June 17, 1859: God, Our Father (The Lord’s Prayer) for chorus, orchestra, and organ by Stanislaw Moniuszko (40) is performed for the first time, in Warsaw.
June 18, 1859: Henry John Temple, Viscount Palmerston replaces Edward Geoffrey Stanley, Earl of Derby as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
June 20, 1859: Writing from Sant’Agata, Giuseppe Verdi (45) begins a subscription list to aid the families who have given men for the Italian cause.
June 22, 1859: Le mari à la porte, an operetta by Jacques Offenbach (40) to words of Delacour, is performed for the first time, at the Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris.
June 24, 1859: In the largest battle in Europe since the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, French and Sardinian forces fight the Austrians to an inconclusive result at Solferino, 30 km west of Verona. Many of the 40,000 casualties die due to poor medical treatment. The battle is witnessed by Swiss businessman Henri Dunant who is spurred to action by the horrific scene. He will found the International Committee of the Red Cross.
June 25, 1859: Second Opium War: In an attempt to enforce the Treaty of Tientsin (Tianjin), British and French forces attack the Taku forts once again but this time are repulsed by the Chinese who sink four Royal Navy warships, killing or wounding over 400. A land assault fails miserably. Fighting alongside the Europeans are about 200 Americans, supposedly “neutral” in the current conflict.
June 30, 1859: Charles Blondin (Jean François Gravelet) walks across a tightrope stretched over Niagara Falls in view of about 25,000 people.
July 2, 1859: Prussia mobilizes against France.
July 4, 1859: Jews gain full legal equality in Lombardy.
July 5, 1859: Captain NC Brooks, aboard the Hawaiian bark Gambia, discovers the Midway Islands in the name of the United States.
July 6, 1859: Les vivandières de la grande armée, an operetta by Jacques Offenbach (40) to words of Jaime and de Forges, is performed for the first time, at the Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris.
July 8, 1859: King Oscar I of Sweden dies in Stockholm and is succeeded by Carl XV.
July 10, 1859: A large religious festival takes place in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe. At a mass during which 200 girls are given first communion, Louis Moreau Gottschalk (30) performs a long improvisation on the organ. Four bishops, from Trinidad, Martinique, Dominica, and Guadeloupe, hold an outdoor procession complete with the military and ringing church bells. At night, the French governor hosts a ball during which Gottschalk performs. Following this, he gives a benefit concert before the four bishops and 150 clergymen and students. It is possible that Gottschalk premieres part of his La Nuit des tropiques, in piano score.
July 11, 1859: The Emperors of France and Austria meet at Villafranca di Verona and conclude an armistice behind the backs of the Sardinians. Austria cedes Parma and Lombardy to France, to be transferred to Sardinia. Tuscany and Modena are restored to Austria. Venice remains in Austrian hands.
July 11, 1859: The Great Bell (Big Ben) of the Great Clock at the Palace of Westminster is heard for the first time.
July 13, 1859: Count Cavour resigns as Prime Minister of Sardinia.
July 15, 1859: Following the less than satisfactory result of the Italian campaign, Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria issues a manifesto from Laxenburg Castle. He promises to seek “Austria’s domestic welfare and external power through the effective development of her rich spiritual and material resources, as well as through timely improvements in legislation and administration…”
July 17, 1859: Delegates from Prussia and Thuringia, desirous of German unification along liberal lines, meet in Eisenach.
July 19, 1859: Moderates from northern German states meet in Hannover to discuss German unification under Prussian leadership. This group, and the one formed two days ago, will merge in September to form the Nationalverein.
July 21, 1859: Exiled Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopoldo II hands over his title to his son Ferdinando IV.
July 21, 1859: Polka Maurka champêtre op.239 by Johann Strauss (33) is performed for the first time, in Pavlovsk.
July 23, 1859: Niko-Polka op.228 and Jäger-Polka op.229 by Johann Strauss (33) are performed for the first time, in Pavlovsk.
July 26, 1859: Jules Massenet (17) competes for and wins the First Prize in piano at the Paris Conservatoire against 12 other male contestants.
July 27, 1859: United States Commissioner John E. Ward arrives in Peking on foot. He bears a ratified treaty to exchange and a letter from President James Buchanan. Thousands turn out to see the “vanquished” enemy. However, Emperor Yi Chu insists that the commissioner kowtow to him, which Ward refuses. The two never meet and Ward is sent away.
July 30, 1859: The fifth and eighth of the Preludes and Fugues for organ by Antonín Dvorák (17) are performed for the first time, by the composer as part of a graduation concert from the Prague Organ School.
August 4, 1859: Jules Massenet (17) receives the First Prize in piano which he won at the Paris Conservatoire on 26 July.
August 6, 1859: Hector Berlioz (55) reads the poem to his unperformed opera Les Troyens to an invited audience of 20-25 people in a private house in Baden. In the evening, music from the opera is heard publicly for the first time when two duets are performed with piano accompaniment in the Salle Beethoven. On hearing the music, the composer weeps.
August 10, 1859: Jews gain full legal equality in Romanga.
August 12, 1859: Anton Bruckner (34) passes a course in elementary counterpoint with his Vienna instructor Simon Sechter. The instruction was carried on largely by correspondence.
August 13, 1859: Dinorah-Quadrille op.224 by Johann Strauss (33) is performed for the first time, in Pavlovsk. Also premiered is Strauss’ Der kobold op.226, a polka mazur.
August 15, 1859: Ratifications of the China-United States treaty are exchanged at Pei-t’ang.
August 16, 1859: The Hannover Minister for Internal Affairs places Heinrich August Marschner on the list of retired civil servants. It is Marschner’s 64th birthday.
August 16, 1859: Exiled Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando IV is formally removed from power by the provisional government.
August 18, 1859: Parma, Piacenza, and Modena are unified.
August 21, 1859: Johann Bernhard, Count Rechberg und Rothenlöwe replaces Karl Ferdinand, Count Buol-Schauenstein as Prime Minister of Austria.
August 27, 1859: Edwin L. Drake of Castleton, Vermont strikes oil at a depth of 21 meters near Titusville, Pennsylvania, 130 km north of Pittsburgh. This will become the first financially productive oil well and begins the commercial exploitation of petroleum.
August 28, 1859: Sultan Abd ar-Rahman of Morocco dies in Meknès and is succeeded by his son Mohammad II.
August 29, 1859: In a private ceremony in the parish church of Collonges-sous-Salève in Savoy, near Piedmont’s border with Switzerland, Giuseppe Verdi (45) marries his long-time mistress, Giuseppina Strepponi, an opera singer. The only witnesses are the church bell ringer and the cabbie who drove the couple there from Geneva.
September 1, 1859: Emperor Franz Joseph II approves a plan for a new Ringstraße around the inner city of Vienna.
September 4, 1859: In the company of Ernest Guiraud on a tour of northern Italy, Georges Bizet (20) reaches Venice.
September 6, 1859: Shamil, once leader of the Chechens and the tribes of Daghistan, surrenders with 400 followers to the Russians on Mt. Gunib, 325 km northwest of Baku.
September 12, 1859: The Parma Assembly, including Giuseppe Verdi (45), votes unanimously in favor of their annexation by Sardinia.
September 15, 1859: A delegation from Parma, including Giuseppe Verdi (45), presents a petition to King Vittorio Emanuele in Turin requesting that Sardinia annex Parma.
September 15, 1859: The Nationalverein, dedicated to German unification, is officially constituted in Frankfurt-am-Main.
September 15, 1859: A Te Deum for chorus, organ, brass, and percussion ad. lib. by Franz Liszt (47) is performed for the first time, for the wedding of Marie Sayn-Wittgenstein to Prince Constantine von Hohenlohe in Weimar.
September 17, 1859: Giuseppe Verdi (45) is voted an honorary citizen by the city of Turin. Later in the day, the composer meets Count Camillo Benso di Cavour whom Verdi will later call “the supreme citizen, he whom every Italian will have to call father of our country.” Verdi finds that the admiration is mutual.
September 18, 1859: British explorer David Livingstone becomes the first European to see Lake Nyasa.
September 19, 1859: Four choral works by Johannes Brahms (26) are performed for the first time, in St. Peter’s Church, Hamburg, directed by the composer: Psalm 13 op.27 for female chorus, organ, and strings ad. lib., O bone Jesu op.37/1 and Adoramus te, Christe op.37/2, both for chorus, and the Ave Maria for female chorus and organ. See 2 December 1859.
September 20, 1859: The electric stove is patented by George B. Simpson of Washington, D.C.
September 22, 1859: After the death of his wife, Bedrich Smetana (35) arrives back in Göteborg from Prague.
September 29, 1859: Gruß an Wien op.225, a polka française by Johann Strauss (33), is performed for the first time, in Pavlovsk.
October 2, 1859: Franz Liszt’s (47) Die Seligkeiten for baritone, chorus, and organ, to words from the Bible, is performed for the first time, in Weimar.
October 8, 1859: Kibrisli Mehmed Pasha replaces Mehmed Emin Ali Pasha as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
October 16, 1859: Depressed over his advancing age, Louis Spohr (75) takes to his bed in Kassel. He will not rise from it again.
October 16, 1859: John Brown and 21 other opponents of slavery seize the United States armory at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (West Virginia), 80 km northwest of Washington.
October 18, 1859: United States Marines under Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee subdue John Brown’s band at Harper’s Ferry, killing eleven.
October 22, 1859: After Moroccans attack unfinished fortifications at Ceuta in August, Spain declares war on Morocco.
October 22, 1859: The breakaway city of Buenos Aires is defeated by Argentinian troops and forced to rejoin the country.
October 22, 1859: Ludwig (Louis) Spohr dies after a short illness, in Kassel, Hesse-Kassel, aged 75 years, six months, and 17 days.
October 25, 1859: An elaborate funeral in memory of Louis Spohr takes place in Kassel, at public expense. His mortal remains are laid to rest in the Hauptfriedhof in Kassel.
October 26, 1859: The British steam clipper Royal Charter goes down in a violent storm off Moelfre, Anglesey. 459 people are lost, 39 survive.
October 27, 1859: German physicist Gustav Robert Kirchhoff announces the invention of the spectroscope. This allows the chemical composition of a substance to be known through its emission and absorption of light.
October 30, 1859: Franz Liszt (48) is admitted to the Austrian nobility as Franz, Ritter von Liszt. On the same day, his setting of the 137th Psalm for alto, violin, and keyboard is performed for the first time, in Weimar.
November 8, 1859: Alyeksandr Borodin (25) leaves St. Petersburg to travel abroad as a delegate of the Academy of Physicians and to gain experience for the position of Adjunct-Professor of Chemistry, recently offered to him.
November 9, 1859: Vor hundert Jahren, a melodrama for speaker and orchestra by Franz Liszt (48) to words of Halm, is performed for the first time, in Weimar.
November 10, 1859: Meeting in Zürich, France, Austria, and Sardinia sign three bilateral treaties ending hostilities and formalizing the agreement at Villafranca. Lombardy passes to Sardinia.
November 10, 1859: Wohl bist du uns geboren, gestorben bist du nicht for solo voices, chorus, and orchestra by Giacomo Meyerbeer (68) to words of Pfau is performed for the first time, in Paris to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Friedrich Schiller. Also premiered is a Festmarsch by Meyerbeer for the occasion. The march is better received than the cantata. 4,000 people attend the festival in the Cirque de l'Impératrice (Cique d'été).
November 12, 1859: At the Cirque Napoléon (Cirque d'Hiver) in Paris, Jules Léotard performs the first flying trapeze act.
November 13, 1859: Alyeksandr Borodin (26) crosses the frontier at Taurogen and leaves Russia for the first time.
November 17, 1859: Alyeksandr Borodin (26) arrives in Heidelberg where he is “directed to work in the laboratory of the German chemist Bunsen.” He finds the arrangements unsuitable and decides to work elsewhere.
November 17, 1859: Minna Wagner joins her husband Richard (46) in Paris.
November 18, 1859: A new production of Christoph Willibald Gluck's (†72) Orfeo ed Euridice opens in the Théâtre-Lyrique, Paris. In the title role is Pauline Viardot (38). Hector Berlioz (55) took many of the rehearsals, and the choreographer is Lucien Petipa. Viardot's costume is designed by her friend Eugène Delacroix. To the astonishment of those involved, it is a smash hit.
November 19, 1859: Geneviève de Brabant, an opéra-bouffon by Jacques Offenbach (40) to words of Jaime and Tréfeu, is performed for the first time, at the Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris.
November 20, 1859: Reiseabenteuer op.227, a waltz by Johann Strauss (34), is performed for the first time, in the Volksgarten, Vienna.
November 22, 1859: Cecil James Sharp is born in Denmark Hill, Camberwell, London, United Kingdom, the third of eight children born to James Sharp, a slate merchant, and Jane Bloyd, the daughter of a lead merchant.
November 24, 1859: La Gloire, the first ironclad warship, is launched for the French navy in Toulon. It was designed by Stanislas Dupuy de Lôme.
November 24, 1859: John Murray publishes the first 500 copies of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin, in London.
November 26, 1859: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (30) arrives back in Havana aboard the English steamer Trent after a concert tour of several Caribbean islands.
November 27, 1859: The overture King Lear by Mily Balakirev (22) is performed for the first time, at St. Petersburg University.
November 28, 1859: Prime Minister Leopoldo O’Donnell lands at Ceuta to reinforce the Spanish garrison against Moroccans.
November 28, 1859: Washington Irving dies in Tarrytown, New York at the age of 76.
November 30, 1859: Lombardy is officially annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia.
December 2, 1859: Carl Edvard Rotwitt replaces Carl Christian Hall as Prime Minister of Denmark.
December 2, 1859: Begräbnisgesang op.13 for chorus, winds, and timpani to words of Weisse and a setting of Ave Maria op.12 for female chorus and orchestra by Johannes Brahms (26) are performed for the first time, in the Wörmerscher Saal, Hamburg, conducted by the composer.
December 2, 1859: John Brown and five others are hanged at Charleston, Virginia (Charles Town, West Virginia) for their part in the raid on Harper’s Ferry on 16-18 October.
December 3, 1859: Tuscany, Parma, Piacenza, Modena, and Reggio form The United Provinces of Central Italy.
December 5, 1859: In spite of the ban of 19 March 1854, the Russian Musical Society gives its first concert, in St. Petersburg. They avoid the ban largely through friends in high places. Most of the music is conducted by Anton Rubinstein (30), who plays the solo part in his own Piano Concerto no.3.
December 8, 1859: Thomas De Quincey dies in Edinburgh at the age of 74.
December 10, 1859: The first governor of Queensland, Sir George Ferguson Bowen, arrives in Brisbane and proclaims the new colony separate from New South Wales.
December 12, 1859: The Victoria Bridge opens over the St. Lawrence River. This is the last rail link between Montreal and the sea at Portland, Maine.
December 13, 1859: Daniel Liszt, third and youngest child of Franz Liszt (48), dies of consumption at the age of 20, in the presence of his father and sister Cosima at the von Bülow home in Berlin.
December 18, 1859: Sonata for piano duet D.812 by Franz Schubert (†31) is performed for the first time, by the Musikverein, Vienna.
December 19, 1859: One of Cavaillé-Coll’s finest instruments is inaugurated at the Church of Sainte-Clotilde by the basilica’s organist, César Franck (37).
December 22, 1859: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (19) is made junior assistant to the head of his administrative department in the Russian Ministry of Justice, St. Petersburg.
December 22, 1859: Murmures éoliens op.46 for piano by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (30) is performed for the first time, in Havana, by the composer.
December 24, 1859: Mütercim Mehmed Rüstü Pasha replaces Kibrisli Mehmed Pasha as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.
December 25, 1859: Parma, Piacenza, Modena, Parma, and Romagna become part of the Emilian Provinces of the Kingdom of Sardinia.