Music History Calendar

Note: calendar has thousands of entries in its database and may be slow to respond.


A few words about this calendar: it’s not intended to be a comprehensive list of every classical music composer who ever lived. It simply notes birth dates and death dates of composers (where known) and dates of the first public performances of major works (where known).

Let’s face it, there’s a whole lot to celebrate!

Frequently Asked Questions about the Calendar:

Q. Why isn’t my favorite composer on there?

  1. I don’t have a documented date of birth or death.
  2. I haven’t added her or him yet. I am adding an average of thirty records a day to this database. As someone I follow on Twitter said, “It’s like winning a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie.”

Q. Your spelling of this composer’s name is wrong.

  1. It’s a typo. When you add this much information every day, some mistakes are bound to creep in. I plan on doing a full check once I’ve exhausted all my sources.
  2. The composer may have multiple spellings of her or his name. This is especially common in composers before the age of movable type, and composers with names in languages that do not use the Roman alphabet. It also happens that composers just spell their names differently at different times. I have to pick one.

Q. You have a birth date/death date wrong.
A. I will check my sources once I’ve finished entering everyone. Feel free to contact me about it and that will be moved to the top of the list of corrections. There’s some confusion about dates in the switch (or lack of) between Julian and Gregorian calendars.
Q. Why don’t you have more modern composers?
A. I’m tired. Also this is meant to document classical musicians. Opinion is divided on what constitutes “modern” classical music. I’m too tired to argue about who is “classical.” You can always make your own calendar. Good luck.
Q. Slideshows and captions on pictures are not displaying correctly.
A. I don’t know how to fix this problem because I’m a musician, not a programmer. The plugin that runs the calendar doesn’t accept WordPress shortcodes. If you can modify the plugin to accept WordPress shortcodes, I will gladly implement the fix.
Q. Why do you have Amazon mp3s on there?
A. You can hear a sample of the composer’s works. If you like it, you can buy it from Amazon, or from iTunes, or somewhere else. The 4¢ commission I get from Amazon if you buy a 99¢ mp3 from them subsidizes the running of this site, which costs quite a bit of my time and money. Think of it as a tradeoff for not having to look at advertisements.
Q. But [name of composition] isn’t on the Amazon widget!
A. I couldn’t find the mp3 on Amazon at the time I was entering the record into the database.
Q. You have a composition supposedly by [name of composer] but it’s really by his son, nephew, cousin, brother, grandson, grandfather, or an unrelated person with the same name. Or, the Amazon widget isn’t working.
A. Unfortunately, Amazon decided to remove access to creating and editing mp3 widgets.
Q. What Amazon mp3 widget? I don’t see any.
A. Turn off your ad blocker. You don’t need it on this site anyway, because I don’t run ads here.
Q. Who are all these people, anyway? I’ve never heard of them?

Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750

Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750

A. That’s kind of the point.
Q. Why did you do this?
A. I couldn’t find anything this comprehensive anywhere out there that organized the information in quite this way.
Q. Why should anyone want to look at this?

  1. You can learn just a little about classical music every day.
  2. If you’re a performer, you could:
    • Get inspiration for a new program
    • Schedule a performance to coincide with a composer’s birth or death date, or the premiere of a work
    • Find something that nobody’s performed or recorded
  3. If you’re an academic, you could find a lesser-known composer to research.
  4. If you’re a teacher, you can find new material for your students.

Q. Can I use this on my own site?
A. You’re asking to use hundreds of hours of my hard work and scholarship. Link to this page instead, please.
Q. Why didn’t you use something shareable like Google calendar?
A. I tried that first. The database is too big and too complex for Google calendar. Also see the question above.

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