History Timelines


Puccini Tosca; Elgar The Dream of Gerontius; Debussy Nocturnes; Copland born.


Build-up of German sea power begins; Nietszche dies.

Verdi dies; Ravel Jeux d’eau; Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2; Louis Armstrong born.


Queen Victoria dies; Marconi makes first transatlantic radio transmission; Toulouse-Lautrec dies; beginning of Picasso’s Blue Period; Strindberg The Dance of Death.

Mahler Symphony No. 5; Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande.


Zola dies; Boer War ends with British victory and collapse of South African Republic and Orange Free State.

Enrico Caruso joins Metropolitan Opera Company in New York and makes first recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company; Cecil Sharp begins collecting folksongs in Somerset.


Wright brothers make first successful flight in America; Emmeline Pankhurst founds Women’s Social and Political Union; Gauguin dies; Jack London The Call of the Wild.

Dvořák dies; Puccini Madama Butterfly; Mahler Kindertotenlieder.


Emile Berliner replaces phonograph cylinders with discs; Chekhov The Cherry Orchard; Conrad Nostromo; Barrie Peter Pan; Russo-Japanese War.

R. Strauss Salome; Debussy La Mer.


Einstein publishes his theory of special relativity, supplanting the centuries-old Newtonian theory of mechanics; Bloody Sunday in St Petersburg – troops fire on workers.

Shostakovich born; Elgar The Kingdom; Mahler Symphony No. 6; Rachmaninov begins Symphony No. 2.


Dreyfus retried and found not guilty of treason (France); first Russian parliament; Cézanne dies.

Grieg dies; Sibelius Symphony No. 3; Rimsky-Korsakov Le Coq d’or.


Picasso’s revolutionary and controversial Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; beginning of Cubism; Hague peace conference fails to secure arms limitation from Germany; Britain, France and Russia join in triple entente.

Rimsky-Korsakov dies; Debussy Children’s Corner; Elgar Symphony No. 1; Ravel Rapsodie espagnole; Schoenberg starts writing atonal music – music with no tonal centre.


Ford starts mass-producing the Model T, making automobiles widely affordable for the first time; Austria annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina; Forster A Room with a View; Klimt finishes The Kiss.

Mahler completes his Das Lied von der Erde and Symphony No. 9; Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 3; Schoenberg Erwartung; premiere of R. Strauss’s Elektra.


Louis Blériot flies across English Channel; Diaghilev begins the Ballets Russes ballet company in Paris.

Strauss Der Rosenkavalier; Stravinsky The Firebird; Webern Five Pieces; Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; Barber born.


Union of South Africa formed; Matisse La Dance and La Musique; Tolstoy dies; Mark Twain dies.

Mahler dies; R. Strauss Der Rosenkavalier; Stravinsky Petrushka.


Parliament Act (Britain) reduces power of House of Lords; Tennessee Williams born.

Cage born; Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire; Ravel Daphnis et Chloé.


First Balkan War; Titanic sinks in the Atlantic Ocean; Republic of China established; Jackson Pollock born; Mann Death in Venice; Shaw Pygmalion.

Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring causes a riot at its premiere; Britten born; Lutosławski born; Luigi Russolo publishes a manifesto called The Art of Noises, praising the use of non-traditional sounds in musical compositions.


New state of Albania created; Camus born; Lawrence Sons and Lovers.

Handy’s Saint Louis Blues published; Ives completes Three Places in New England.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria assassinated; World War I begins; Opening of Panama Canal, linking Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; Joyce Dubliners.

Scriabin dies; Berg Three Pieces for Orchestra, Op. 6.


Ill-fated landing by allied forces at Gallipoli; Einstein publishes his theory of general relativity; Dada founded in Zurich and New York; Buchan The Thirty-Nine Steps.

Holst The Planets.


Battle of the Somme; beginning of Arab revolt against Turkish rule; Henry James dies; Kafka Metamorphosis.

Erik Satie’s ballet Parade.


USA enters war against Germany; Russian Revolution dethrones the Tsar and Bolsheviks take over; Britain pledges support for Jewish homeland in Palestine; Degas dies; Rodin dies; Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain.

Debussy dies; Lili Boulanger dies; Bernstein born; Stravinsky L’Histoire du soldat; premiere of Bartók’s brief, intense opera Bluebeard’s Castle in Budapest.


World War I ends; fall of Austro-Hungarian Empire; influenza pandemic; Klimt dies; Wilfred Owen dies.

De Falla’s very Spanish ballet The Three-Cornered Hat.


Treaty of Versailles, imposing heavy reparations on Germany.

Charles Ives’s Concord Sonata published; premiere of Stravinsky’s neoclassical ballet Pulcinella.


Women gain the right to vote in the USA; prohibition introduced in the USA.

Janáček Kát’a Kabanová; Saint-Saëns dies.


Irish Free State established; Piccasso Mother and Child and Three Musicians.

Xenakis born.


Greeks expelled from Turkey; Mussolini establishes Fascism in Italy; Joyce’s Ulysses published in Paris; T.S. Eliot The Waste Land; Galsworthy The Forsyte Saga; Proust dies; Larkin born.

The legendary jazz club, The Cotton Club, opens in New York, playing host to some of the greatest musicians in the history of jazz; Stravinsky Les Noces; Berg Wozzeck.


Wembley Stadium opens.

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue merges jazz and classical styles; Sibelius Symphony No. 7; Poulenc Les Biches; Fauré dies; Puccini dies.


Surrealism founded in Paris; Conrad dies; Kafka dies; Mann The Magic Mountain; Wodehouse The Inimitable Jeeves.

Boulez born; premiere of Berg’s Wozzeck.


Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin is a ground-breaking film; Germany joins League of Nations; Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby.

Berg Lyric Suite; Kodály Háry János.


General Strike in Britain; Monet dies; Rilke dies.

Premiere of Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass; Stravinsky Oedipus Rex.


The Jazz Singer – the first feature-length movie to have synchronised music and lip-synced singing and speech; Warhol born; Woolf To the Lighthouse; Charles Lindbergh makes the first solo flight across the Atlantic.

Janáček dies; Ravel Boléro; Stockhausen born.


Fleming discovers penicillin; Hardy dies.


Wall Street Crash ushers in the Great Depression in America.

Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms.


The first FIFA World Cup is held in Uruguay; Empire State Building begun in New York; Lawrence dies; Pluto is discovered.

Varèse completes Ionisation for 13 percussion instruments; Nielsen dies; Walton Belshazzar’s Feast.


World slump and financial crisis; Woolf The Waves.

John Williams born.


BBC World Service launches; world economic conference fails; Japan leaves League of Nations; Huxley Brave New World.

Górecki born; Penderecki born; Schoenberg emigrates to America; Max Steiner’s score for King Kong.


Hitler becomes German Chancellor and establishes Nazi rule; Prohibition ends in the USA, and President Roosevelt launches his New Deal to help counter American economic depression; Yeats Collected Poems.

Elgar dies; Delius dies; Holst dies; Birtwistle born; Maxwell Davies born; Shostakovich Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.


Germany leaves League of Nations, refuses to accept the Treaty of Versailles and begins to rearm.

George Gershwin Porgy and Bess; Arvo Pärt born; Walton Symphony No. 1; Berg Violin Concerto; Berg dies.


Mussolini attacks Abyssinia; Malcolm Campbell breaks the 300mph barrier to set a new land speed world record.

Steve Reich born; Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf; Soviet newspaper Pravda condems Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth as ‘muddle instead of music’.


Hitler occupies Rhineland; Spanish Civil War begins; Mitchell Gone with the Wind.

Ravel dies; Gershwin dies; Philip Glass born; Shostakovich Symphony No. 5.


Picasso paints gigantic mural Guernica for Paris world exhibition; Hockney born; Barrie dies; Wharton dies.

Prokofiev’s film score for Alexander Nevsky and premiere of Romeo and Juliet; Hindemith Mathis der Maler; Copland Billy the Kid.


Hitler annexes Austria; declaration of peaceful intent at Munich.

Bartók completes his sixth and final string quartet.


Freud dies; Hitler invades Czechoslovakia, then Poland; World War II begins; Yeats dies; Steinbeck The Grapes of Wrath.

John Cage publishes The Future of Music: Credo; Britten Sinfonia da Requiem.


Defeat of France; Churchill becomes British Prime Minister; Klee dies; Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time; Shostakovich Symphony No. 7; Tippett A Child of Our Time.


Hitler invades USSR; Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the USA enters the War; Joyce dies; Woolf dies; O’Neill Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Dmitri Shostakovich features on the cover of TIME magazine, symbolising resistance to Hitler’s armies; Britten Hymn to St Cecilia.


Manhattan Project begins and will produce the first nuclear weapons; Germans defeated at Stalingrad; Japanese take Singapore; Edward Hopper Nighthawks.

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first musical together, Oklahoma!, premieres on Broadway.


Allied armies invade Italy; Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige – an extended jazz work – at Carnegie Hall; Rachmaninov dies.

Premiere of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra; Tavener born; Copland Appalachian Spring.


Allied landings in Normany; Munch dies; Kandinsky diesl Mondrian dies.

Bartók dies; Webern dies; Britten Peter Grimes.


Germany surrenders; signing of UN charter; US drops atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Japan surrenders; Herny Green Loving; Orwell Animal Farm.

Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music start.


Wells dies; Kazantzakis Zorba the Greek.

John Adams born; Duruflé Requiem.


The sound barrier is broken for the first time; India and Pakistan become two separate and independent nations; Matisse Jazz; Camus The Plague.

R. Strauss Four Last Songs; Messiaen Turangalîla-symphonie.


State of Israel founded; Jackson Pollock Number One; Betjeman Selected Poems.

Pierre Schaeffer’s composition work using recorded sounds as raw material has become known as musique concrète; R. Strauss dies; Poul Ruders born.


NATO created as the defender of the West against the Soviet Union; Samuel Beckett finishes his play Waiting for Godot; Miller Death of a Salesman; Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four; proclamation of the People’s Republic of China.

Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls opens on Broadway.


Korean War (1950–53) begins; Orwell dies; Shaw dies; Greene The Third Man.

Schoenberg dies; Britten Billy Budd; Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress.


Festival of Britain; European Coal and Steel Community founded; Salinger The Catcher in the Rye.

Recording Industry Association of America founded; premiere of John Cage’s 4’33”.


Mau Mau rebellion, Kenya; musical film Singin’ in the Rain with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.

Prokofiev dies; Shostakovich Symphony No. 10; Stockhausen Kontra-Punkte.


Molecular structure of DNA is identified by James Watson and Francis Crick; Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climb Everest; Stalin dies; Elizabeth II crowned queen of the UK.

Ives dies; Britten The Turn of the Screw; Varèse Déserts; Judith Weir born.


Marilyn Monroe poses for one of the world’s most famous photoshoots, standing over a subway grate in a billowing white dress; British troops withdraw from Egypt; war begins in Vietnam; Matisse dies.

Pierre Boulez Le Marteau sans maître; Tippett The Midsummer Marriage.


Warsaw Pact signed as the Soviet ‘reply’ to NATO; Tolkien The Lord of the Rings.

Elvis Presley releases his first album; Bernstein Candide.


Hungarian Revolution against Soviet control; Britain and France invade Suez.

Lennon and McCartney meet in Liverpool – they will go on to form The Beatles; Bernstein West Side Story; Poulenc Dialogues des Carmélites; Sibelius dies; Hans Zimmer born.


Treaty of Rome establishes European Economic Community; Pasternak Doctor Zhivago; Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1 into space.

Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique for the Philip’s Pavilion at the Brussels World’s Fair is an example of what he called ‘organised sound’ and challenges the boundaries of music; Messiaen Catalogue d’oiseaux – a piano piece based on birdsong; Vaughan Williams dies.


Greene Our Man in Havana; USS Nautilus submarine reaches the North Pole.

Poulenc Gloria; Britten Missa brevis; Buddy Holly killed in air crash.


Cuban Revolution ends by replacing the authoritarian Battista regime with a revolutionary government led by Fidel Castro; Rothko Red on Maroon.

Boulez Pli selon pli.


So many Germans are fleeing Soviet tyranny, that the Soviets throw up the Berlin Wall, separating East and West Berlin; Hemingway dies; Heller Catch-22.

Henze Elegy for Young Lovers; Tippett King Priam.


Berlin Wall separates East and West Berlin; USSR puts the first person into space orbit.

Britten War Requiem; the cassette tape becomes commercially available – it will replace stereo 8-track and reel-to-reel tape recording.


Cuban Missile Crisis sees the world come close to nuclear disaster; Andy Warhol establishes his legendary New York-based studio, The Factory; Albee Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Lessing The Golden Notebook.

Poulenc dies; Roberto Alagna (tenor) born; Hindemith dies.


President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas; Martin Luther King delivers his ‘I have a dream’ speech – its message of peace puts a spotlight on the Civil Rights Movement and promotes equal treatment of black and white Americans; Braque dies; Huxley dies.

Britten Curlew River; Riley In C – the first minimalist composition; The Beatles tour America for the first time.


Civil Rights Act, USA; Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory published.

Varèse dies; Bryn Terfel (baritone) born; Nat King Cole dies.


Churchill dies; US troops enter Vietnam to replace the French; T.S. Eliot dies.

Ligeti writes Lux aeterna – it will be used two years later in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey; Berio Sequenza III; Penderecki St Luke Passion.


Chinese Cultural Revolution begins under Mao Zedong; Waugh dies; Fowles The Magus.

The Beatles release their groundbreaking album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Kodály dies; Takemitsu November Steps; Steve Reich Piano Phase.


Arab–Israeli Six Day War – Arab forces are defeated by the Israelis in six days; Abortion Act, Britain; Magritte dies; Márquez One Hundred Years of Solitude; Stoppard Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Birtwistle Punch and Judy; Stockhausen Stimmung; Arvo Pärt Credo; Tavener The Whale.


Prague Spring: USSR invades Czechoslovakia; Martin Luther King assassinated; Robert Kennedy assassinated.

Berio Sinfonia; The Who’s rock opera, Tommy; Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King.


Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the moon; Stonewall Riots – beginning of the gay rights movement; Woodstock Music Festival in New York attracts more than 400,000 people.

Crumb Ancient Voices of Children; Ferneyhough Cassandra’s Dream Song; Eric Whitacre born; conductor George Szell dies.


Japan emerges is a major industrial power; Disney releases The Aristocats; Rothko dies; Forster dies; stricken Apollo 13 makes it back to earth.

Stravinsky dies; first Glastonbury Festival; Gavin Bryars Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet; Jonny Greenwood born; Thomas Adès born; Louis Armstrong dies.


microprocessor invented; building of Pompidou Centre, Paris begun (Rogers and Piano); Twombly Nini’s Paintings; Updike Rabbit Redux.

Reich Drumming; Tippett Symphony No. 3; premiere of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15, his final symphony.


President Nixon visits China – a thaw in relations is widely welcomed; Watergate scandal begins to unfold, USA; terrorist attack at Olympic Games, Munich.

Britten Death in Venice; Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells released; Frank Martin Requiem; conductor Otto Klemperer dies.


USA withdraws from Vietnam; Britain enters the European Economic Community; Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago published; Sydney Opera House opens; Picasso dies; Auden dies.

Milhaud dies; Messiaen Des canyons aux étoiles.


‘Lucy’, Australopithecus afarensis, discovered in Tanzania – the remote ancestry of homo sapiens is being unravelled; Nixon resigns as US president; Turkey invades Cyprus.

Shostakovich dies; Boulez Rituel in Memoriam Maderna; Ligeti San Francisco Polyphony.


Vietnam War ends with defeat of the Americans; civil war begins in Lebanon; Pol Pot becomes dictator of Cambodia; Microsoft founded; Barbara Hepworth dies; Wodehouse dies.

Britten dies; Glass Einstein on the Beach; Górecki Symphony No. 3; Pärt Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten.


Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs begin selling the Apple I computer; unification of South and North Vietnam; Mao Zedong dies; Max Ernst dies; Edward Hammer invents energy-efficient lightbulbs.

Arvo Pärt Tabula Rasa; Steve Reich Music for 18 Musicians.


Pompidou Centre opens in Paris, along with Boulez’s IRCAM – a centre for research into the science of music and sound, and electro-acoustic music; Nabokov dies.

Arvo Pärt Spiegel im Spiegel; John Adams Shaker Loops; Andris Nelsons (conductor) born; Khachaturian dies.


Israel and Egypt sign the Camp David Accords peace treaty; Karol Wojtyła becomes Pope John Paul II – he will help to end Communist rule in Poland; revolution begins in Iran; premiere of Grease film; Evita opens in London; Murdoch The Sea, the Sea.

Tippett Triple Concerto; teacher and composer Nadia Boulanger dies; composers Nino Rota, Roy Harris and Dmitri Tiomkin die.


Margaret Thatcher becomes the first female British Prime Minister; the Shah and the monarch of Iran and overthrown and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini becomes the new Supreme Leader.

Lutosławski Double Concerto; Peter Maxwell Davies Farewell to Stromness; Glass Satyagraha; John Lennon dies.


Iran–Iraq War (1980–88); smallpox is declared eradicated; labour union Solidarity founded in Poland; Wartre dies; Eco The Name of the Rose.

Barber dies; Steve Reich Tehillim; Roger Sessions Concerto for Orchestra; conductor Karl Richter dies.


First space shuttle flight; AIDS first diagnosed; Rushdie Midnight’s Children.

First commercially available CD player, Japan; pianists Glenn Gould and Clifford Curzon die.


Britain and Argentina at war over Falkland Islands / Malvinas; Alice Walker The Color Purple.

Walton dies; premiere of Messiaen’s opera St François d’Assise in Paris.


Miró dies; Tennessee Williams dies; Michael Jackson’s video Thriller aired for the first time.

Glass Akhnaten; Tippett The Mask of Time; Reich The Desert Music.


Indira Gandhi assassinated, India; Betjeman dies; Kundera The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Martin Amis Money.

Ligeti Études pour piano, Book 1; Maxwell Davies Symphony No. 3; Takemitsu Riverrun.


Ethiopian famine; Chagall dies; Jeff Koons One Ball Total Equilibrian Tank; Saatchi Gallery opens, London; Larkin dies.

Nyman The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat; Schnittke Violin Concerto.


First use of DNA profiling in a criminal investigation; President Marcos overthrown, Philippines; USA bombs Libya; Henry Moore dies; Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

John Adams Nixon in China; Naxos Records founded by Klaus Heymann, with a focus on repertoire rather than artists.


Warhol dies; McEwan The Child in Time.

Mark-Anthony Turnage Greek; Reich Different Trains.


Margaret Atwood Cat’s Eye.

John Tavener The Protecting Veil at the BBC Proms; Pärt’s Passio published.


Berlin Wall comes down, heralding the collapse of the Soviet Union; Romanian revolution; Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing; Dalí dies; Beckett dies; Ishiguro The Remains of the Day; British scientist Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web.

Copland dies; Bernstein dies; the Three Tenors perform at the FIFA World Cup.


Gorbachev becomes President of the Soviet Union; Iraq invades Kuwait; Germany reunified; Nelson Mandela released from prison.

John Adams’s controversial opera about a terrorist attack, The Death of Klinghoffer, is premiered in Brussels; Birtwistle Gawain.


Damien Hirst shocks the art world by exhibiting a shark floating in a formaldehyde tank – The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living; USSR dissolved; UN forces attack Iraq; Graham Greene dies.

Cage dies; Messiaen dies; Henze Requiem.


end of Cold War; Francis Bacon dies; Ondaatje The English Patient.

Tavener Song for Athene.


Stoppard Arcadia.

Lutosławski dies.


Nelson Mandela becomes the first president of a multiracial democracy, South Africa; genocide begins in Rwanda; Channel Tunnel opens; Osborne dies.

Adès Powder Her Face.


Yitzhak Rabin assassinated, Israel; Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art opens.

MacMillan The World’s Ransoming; Turnage Blood on the Floor.


Byatt Babel Tower; Graham Swift Last Orders.

Harvey Percussion Concerto; Rautavaara Aleksis Kivi


Princess Diana dies in a car crash in Paris; Guggenheim Bilbao opens; Laurie Lee dies; McEwan Enduring Love; Ted Hughes Tales from Ovid; Netflix founded.

Tippett dies.


Google is founded and grows rapidly; India and Pakistan test nuclear weapons; Hughes dies; Murdoch dies; Roth American Pastoral.


World population reaches 6 billion; NATO forces attack Serbia; introduction of euro as common currency in EU.

Adams El Niño; Maxwell Davies Antarctica Symphony; premiere of Karl Jenkins’s The Armed Man ‘A Mass for Peace’; Judith Weir


Tate Modern opens, London; Atwood The Blind Assassin; Roth The Human Stain; Charles Schulz dies.

Xenakis dies.


The World Trade Centre is destroyed by terrorists; Yann Martel Life of Pi.

Maxwell Davies ‘Naxos’ Quartet No. 1; Steve Reich Three Tales.


US invasion of Afghanistan.


US-led coalition invades Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – Iraq War (2003–11) begins; Human Genome Project completed; war begins in Darfur, Sudan.


Mark Zuckerberg launches Facebook; Yasser Arafat dies; Indian Ocean tsunami kills 230,000 people.

John Adams’s Doctor Atomic deals with the life and times of Robert Oppenheimer, ‘father of the bomb’.


Terrorist bomb blasts strike London’s public transport system; Hurricane Katrina causes devastation in New Orleans and surrounding areas; Angela Merkel becomes first female chancellor of Germany.

Jonathan Dove The Enchanted Pig; Tan Dun The First Emperor.


Earthquake strikes Java, Indonesia; Wikileaks is launched by Julian Assange; North Korea conducts its first nuclear test.

Michael Daugherty Deus ex Machina.


Apple releases the iPhone.

Elliott Carter turns 100.


Large Hadron Collider at CERN powered up in Geneva.


Barack Obama inaugurated as the first African American president of the USA; Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall.

Daniel Barenboim awarded Otto Hahn Peace Medal for his work with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.


Earthquake in Haiti destroys most of the capital Port-au-Prince; Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes causing environmental disaster; Ai Weiwei Sunflower Seeds.

Mark-Anthony Turnage Anna Nicole; Nico Muhly Two Boys.


Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, marries Kate Middleton; Arab Spring – protests spread in the Middle East; twin terror attacks in Norway; population reaches 7 billion.

George Benjamin Written on Skin; Anna Clyne Prince of Clouds.


Tavener dies.


Xi Jinping named as new President of People’s Republic of China; human stem cells are successfully cloned.


Russia formally annexes Crimea, a move condemned internationally.

Joby Talbot / Gene Scheer Everest; Jennifer Higdon / Gene Scheer Cold Mountain.


Queen Elizabeth II becomes Britain’s longest reigning monarch; China announces end of one-child policy.

Pierre Boulez dies; Peter Maxwell Davies dies.


Panama Papers published, exposing fraud and tax evasion; Paris Agreement on climate change; UK votes to leave the EU in a referendum – negotiations for ‘Brexit’ begin.


Businessman and TV personality Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the USA – his slogan of ‘America first’ pleases some and horrifies others.


Apple becomes first American public listed company to reach $1 trillion in value.

20th Century and Beyond

(c. 1900–Today)

People have very different ideas about what happened to classical music during the 20th century: some people think it started to die out, while others think it’s flourishing as much as ever. In the early part of the century, some composers preferred to stick to traditional forms, but others – the ‘modernists’ – thought it was important to experiment; and there were others still who didn’t fit in neatly anywhere! Later on things got even more diverse, and now composers draw on all sorts of styles and techniques from pop, jazz, blues and rock, as well as on music from right across the world.