20th Century Music Events

Timeline created by Dr. Janners
In Music
  • New Orleans becomes a city

    New Orleans becomes a city
    The birthplace of jazz originated long before the music genre was created and long before the country this genre belonged to was a thing
  • The Clermont is first steamboat to travel on major US rivers

    The Clermont is first steamboat to travel on major US rivers
    Steamboats played a big part in the spread of jazz on the Mississippi River as bands would often play on them. The Clermont was the first steamboat to travel successfully on a major US river.
  • Creation of the Saxophone

    Creation of the Saxophone
    The first saxophone was patented by Antoine-Joseph Sax in Paris in 1846. A saxophone has a conical metal (originally brass) tube with about 24 openings controlled by padded keys; the mouthpiece is similar to that of a clarinet. Two octave key vents allow the instrument to overblow to a higher register at the octave.
  • Les Miserables Published

    Les Miserables Published
    Victor Hugo publishes the French Revolutionary historical Novel which would go on to be one of the most celebrated stories in Broadway in modern theater.
  • The Black Crook

    The Black Crook
    This show made its debut in New York and is considered to be the first piece of theatre that set the stage for modern musicals
  • First Jim Crow Laws are Enacted

    The first of these laws were enacted in 1877 leading to a larger national trend of racial segregation in the United States. Jazz began as a mostly black art form but slowly worked its way into mainstream ears.
  • Thomas Edison First Sound Recorder

    Thomas Edison First Sound Recorder
    Thomas Edison invented the first practical sound recording device that comprised of a metal cylinder and infludenced musicians all over the world.
  • Buddy Bolden Was Born

    Buddy Bolden Was Born
    The first true jazz musician, Buddy Bolden, was born this year.
  • Joseph "King" Oliver is born

    Joseph "King" Oliver is born
    King Oliver was an influential Jazz Cornet player who played in New Orleans from 1908-1917. He influenced big names down the road like Louis Armstrong.
  • Piano rags appear in print for the first time

  • Louis Armstrong was born

    Louis Armstrong was born. His parents were named William Armstrong and Mary Albert Armstrong.
  • The Entertainer Is Written

    The Entertainer Is Written
    Scott Joplin writes the iconic piano piece.
  • Pope Pius X and the Gregorian Chant

    Pope Pius X and the Gregorian Chant
    Pope Pius X helped restore the importance of the Gregorian Chant in the Catholic church. The Gregorian Chant is liturgical music used to accompany the mass.
  • Wright Brothers First Flight

  • First Radio Program w/ Voice and Music (Mike Lehner 4/6)

    First Radio Program w/ Voice and Music (Mike Lehner 4/6)
    This was a big change in not only the culture of the world but in music as well because music could be heard anywhere there was a signal.
  • Green Mill Cocktail Lounge Opens

    Green Mill Cocktail Lounge Opens
    The famous Jazz Venue in Midtown Chicago opens. It would later be purchased by Al Capone and become a hotspot for musicians both invited and coerced. It still runs today as a major venue in the Windy City for Jazz music.
  • The first publication of blues sheet music

    The first publication of blues sheet music
    The first publication of blues sheet music may have been "I Got the Blues", published by New Orleans musician Antonio Maggio in 1908.
  • Arnold Schoenberg and the concept of dissonance

    Arnold Schoenberg published Book of Hanging Gardens which introduced the concept of dissonance.
  • Ford Model T Enters Production

    Ford Model T Enters Production
    With over 15 million produced by 1927, the model T brought affordable mass produced automobiles to the American public and changed how Americans could move and interact. People could go farther than ever on their own terms, and people could experience new local cultures easier than ever.
  • Headphones Invented

    Headphones Invented
    Nathaniel Baldwin developed the first set of headphones to listen to things like music. These are commonly used today and have a huge impact on our exposure to music. (Connor Flack)
  • Disc Phonograph (Mike Lehner 1/6)

    Disc Phonograph (Mike Lehner 1/6)
    The disc phonograph was invented by Tomas Edison
  • The word "Jazz" first appears in print

    The word "Jazz" first appears in print
    Jazz appears as a word for the first time in US print. At the time it simply meant "enthusiasm" and did not necessarily refer to music.
  • Actors' Equity Association is founded_Scarim

    Actors' Equity Association is founded_Scarim
    The actors' union is established to represent live theater actors.
  • ASCAP founded

    The Irish composer Victor Herbert helped to establish the American Society of Composers, Arrangers, and Producers (ASCAP).
  • World War I begins

    "the war to end all wars" begins and lasts until 1918
  • Duke Ellington writes his first piece, "Soda Fountain Rag" (Poodle Dog Rag)

    Duke Ellington writes his first piece, "Soda Fountain Rag" (Poodle Dog Rag)
    While working one summer at a pop stand, Ellington wrote his first composition. This was the beginning of his hugely successful career and influence on Jazz. (Connor Flack)
  • Gene Greene records King of the Bungaloos with scat!

    Gene Greene records King of the Bungaloos with scat!
    Gene Greene was the first musician to put scat on a record. At the end of the song, he added scat (nonsense singing at the time) for two choruses to experiment and gage the audience's reaction. This marked the first time scat was heard on a record. (Parisi)
  • Livery Stable Blues Released

    Livery Stable Blues Released
    The Original Dixieland Jass Band releases the first jazz recording for sale. This album was a major hit and was the first popular music recording to sell a million copies. This album established Jazz as a major genre across the nation beyond the clubs of New Orleans.
  • America Enters World War One

    America Enters World War One
    America declares war on Germany and Austria, entering world war one as a member of the allies. Over two million Americans would be sent to Europe, and over 10,000 would die.
  • Dizzy Gillespie was born

    Dizzy Gillespie was born
    Dizzy came up with the bebop sound and helped introduce Latin American rhythms to modern jazz.
  • Chicago is jazz capital

    Chicago was jazz capital and Arnold Schoenberg introduced the concept of serialism.
  • Prohibition Era Begins

    Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.
  • 1920s Fashion takes a modern turn

    The 1920s is the decade in which fashion entered the modern era. It was the decade in which women first abandoned the more restricting fashions of past years and began to wear more comfortable clothes (such as short skirts or trousers). Men also abandoned highly formal daily attire and even began to wear athletic clothing for the first time.
  • First commercial radio broadcasts

    First commercial radio stations in the U.S., 8MK (WWJ) in Detroit and (KDKA 1020 AM) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, go on the air on August 27, 1920.
  • Flapper Era

    Flapper Era
    Women during this time listened to Jazz music, cut their hair short into a bob, and wore sparkly dresses. This is a more definitive style and cultural change influenced by the Jazz era.
  • Prohibition_Scarim

    Prohibition_Scarim
    The sale and consumption of alcohol was banned by the US Constitution.
  • The first performance of Beyond the Horizon was performed

  • Women's Suffrage Movement

    Women's Suffrage Movement
    The 19th Amendment is passed granting equal voting rights to women.
  • Warren Harding was elected president

  • First Car Radio Invented

    First Car Radio Invented
    Car radios are perhaps one of the most iconic ways music is experienced. Though not widely used early on, today you cannot find a car without one in the center console. (Connor Flack)
  • The first African American ensemble was created

    Kid Ory's Band made the first recording with an all African American ensemble.
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation

    The British Broadcasting Corporation
    The British Broadcasting Corporation, better known as BBC, secured the first broadcasting license ever in the United Kingdom.
  • Duke Ellington Performs first concert

    Duke Ellington Performs first concert
    Duke plays his first concert in NYC
  • The Cotton Club opened

    The Cotton Club opened
    In what eventually became a central place in which the Harlem renaissance took place the cotton club opened for business
  • Bessie Smith records first song

    Bessie Smith records first song
    Bessie Smith signed with Colombia Records and began her career as a nationally recognized blues singer. This is significant because of her large influence on the style of blues. (Connor Flack)
  • Warner Brothers was incorporated

  • George Gershwin debuts "Rhapsody in Blue"_Scarim

    George Gershwin debuts "Rhapsody in Blue"_Scarim
    Gershwin's version of a jazz concerto
  • Indian Citizen Act

    Indian Citizen Act
    Congress passed law making all Native Americans born within US territory legal citizens of the USA.
  • Julliard is founded

    In New York, Julliard School opened and George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue premiered.
  • Bessie Smith & Armstrong - St. Louis Blues (Mike Lehner 5/6)

    Bessie Smith & Armstrong - St. Louis Blues (Mike Lehner 5/6)
    Smith & Armstrong record the famous version of St. Louis Blues.
  • The Publication of The Great Gatsby

    The Publication of The Great Gatsby
    American author F. Scott Fitzgerald Created his representative book "The Great Gas".
  • Savoy Ballroom Opens

    Savoy Ballroom Opens
    The Savoy Ballroom was a large ballroom in Harlem which hosted many prominent big band groups and was a hot spot for swing music. The ballroom had a no discrimination policy, and though usually was majority black, sometimes had an even split of black and white folks.
  • Miles Davis is Born_Scarim

    Miles Davis is Born_Scarim
    World famous jazz trumpeter is born in Alton, IL
  • John Coltrane is born in Hamlet, NC

    John Coltrane is born in Hamlet, NC
    Coltrane was a very influential artist in Jazz Music and worked with the likes of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, and more. -Coner McFarlin
  • Ol' Man River was written

    Ol' Man River was written
    One of the soon to be most influential songs of the decade was conceived by composer and lyricist respectively Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein
  • The Jazz Singer Premiers

    The Jazz Singer Premiers
    Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer" premiers as the first talking movie, paving the way for music to be featured in film more prominently. This started a major shift in how Americans viewed entertainment.
  • First Talking Film

    First Talking Film
    The first ever talking movie came out in 1927 by Warner Bros. The first full length movie with speaking involved was called "The Jazz Singer"
  • Benny Goodman Makes First Recording

    Benny Goodman Makes First Recording
    Popular clarinetist Benny Goodman records his first work in this year.
  • The Great Depression Begins

    The Great Depression Begins
    The stock market crashes beginning the worst economic period in the history of the industrialized world.
  • Ornette Coleman is Born

    Ornette Coleman is Born
    Saxophonist Ornette Coleman is born who specialized in Free Jazz.
  • Looney Tunes is Introduced

    Looney Tunes is Introduced
    To compete with Walt Disney Warner Brothers created Looney Tunes as a way to promote their music. Since then Looney Tunes has featured and commented on art, music, and culture; and has become and an enduring part of American culture as well.
  • Duke Ellington travel abroad

    Duke Ellington travel abroad
    Duke gains popularity and national recognition from his performances at the Cotton Club. He proceeds to travel abroad, spreading the influences of American music and jazz in Europe. The slogan "beyond category" is pushed by Ellington throughout his travels. (Parisi)
  • The Berkshire Music Festival

    The Berkshire Music Festival
    This music festival, held in Lenox, Massachusetts, now called the Tanglewood Music Festival, was started by a group of music - loving residents.
  • Radio City Music Hall opens_Scarim

    Radio City Music Hall opens_Scarim
    The famous music hall opens its doors in Midtown Manhattan
  • Billie Holiday's Debut

    Billie Holiday's Debut
    At only 18 years old, Billie Holiday was discovered by John Hammond while performing at a jazz club. Working with Benny Goodman, the duo released "Your Mother's Son-In-Law".
  • Eletric Guitar Invented (Mike Lehner 2/6)

    Eletric Guitar Invented (Mike Lehner 2/6)
    This invention made jazz what we think of it today, it also paved for the next genre of music and that was rock and roll
  • Jo Jones throws a Cymbal at Charlie Parker

    Jo Jones throws a Cymbal at Charlie Parker
    After playing poorly on a piece Jo Jones throws a cymbal at Charlie parker who subsequently gets laughed off stage and then dedicates his life to jazz
  • Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall Concert

    Benny Goodman's Carnegie Hall Concert
    One of the first live recordings of jazz, the Carnegie Hall concert recording would later release in 1950. Benny Goodman would receive widespread acclaim with his integrated jazz group and later be called the "King of Swing."
  • Strange Fruit is Recorded

    Strange Fruit is Recorded
    Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday is recorded. This song contained very powerful lyrics about the lynching of African Americans.
  • WW2 Beginned

    WW2 Beginned
    The second world war broke out this year when Nazi managed to invade Poland.
  • Nat King Cole Trio

    The Nat King Cole Trio was formed. Charles Parker moved to New York and performed with Dizzy Gillespie and other jazz musicians.
  • Vocoder Invented

    Vocoder Invented
    The Vocoder was used in WWII to hide peoples voices in transatlantic conversations. After the war, the Vocoder was used to "auto-tune" singers' voices. (Connor Flack)
  • Frank Sinatra Solo

    Frank Sinatra Solo
    In 1940, Frank Sinatra established himself as a solo artist only after signing with Columbia Records.
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald Dies

    F. Scott Fitzgerald Dies
    F. Scott Fitzgerald was a celebrated American author who didnt reach the full height of his fame until his death. His works helped illustrate the flamboyance of the Jazz Era.
  • US declares war on Japan

    US declares war on Japan
    The US responded to the Pearl Harbor attack by declaring war on Japan, thus beginning the United States involvement in WW2.
  • Japanese Internment - WWII

    Japanese Internment - WWII
    World War II saw a lot of wrongdoing. Part of that was the internment of Japanese Americans into camps. A Chicago Tribune Article talks about the experience of Japanese-Americans and their appreciation of jazz through that experience.
  • Oklahoma! opens in NYC_Scarim

    Oklahoma! opens in NYC_Scarim
    The Broadway production of Oklahoma! opens in NYC at the St. James Theater.
  • Glenn Miller publishes a book on music arrangement

    Glenn Miller publishes a book on music arrangement
    Miller writes and publishes his book "Method for Orchestral Arranging" which paved the way for many other musicians to learn this skill. Miller was one of the best selling musicians of his time.
  • First Bernstein Musical

    First Bernstein Musical
    Leonard Bernstein is considered one of the greatest composer-authors (among other things). His very first musical performed on Broadway was On the Town. It was just the beginning of his pivotal career. (Connor Flack)
  • Be-Bop Starts Becoming Popularized

    Be-Bop Starts Becoming Popularized
    Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie began publicly playing Be-Bop style music which helped to establish an interest for it.
  • Oklahoma premiered

    Oklahoma by Rodgers and Hammerstein opened on Broadway.
  • The Tony Awards

    The Tony Awards
    The awards for broadway productions are named after actress, director, co - founder of the American Theatre Wing, and producer Antoinette Perry.
  • South Pacific Broadway Premiere

    South Pacific Broadway Premiere
    The famous Broadway hit by Rodgers and Hammerstein premieres for the first time.
  • Immigration and Naturalization Act is passed

    The Immigration and Naturalization Act removed the last racial and ethnic barriers to naturalization
  • Duke Ellington's 25th Anniversary

    Duke Ellington's 25th Anniversary was celebrated with two concerts at Carnegie Hall featuring Billie Holiday, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie
  • Dwight Eisenhower Presidency

    Dwight Eisenhower becomes president
  • First Color TV

    First Color TV
    The first ever color television was commercially broadcasted starting December 17, 1953. It was not until the mid 60s that color TVs were being sold for large numbers of people.
  • Julie Andrews Debuted on Broadway

    Julie Andrews Debuted on Broadway
    One of the Greatest Broadway Stars, Julie Andrews, brought so much fame to musical theater.
  • Miles Davis Quintet

    Miles Davis's quintet features a saxophonist John Coltrane, pianist Red Garland, bassist Paul Chambers, and drummer Philly Joe Jones.
  • King of Rock n Roll

    King of Rock n Roll
    In 1956 Elvis Presley's fame was so intense that he became known as the King of Rock n Roll, or the icon of rock n roll.
  • West Side Story opens in Washington D.C.

    Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story opens in Washington D.C.
  • West Side Story Broadway Makes Debut

    West Side Story Broadway Makes Debut
    West Side Story Broadway by Leonard Bernstein's begins playing publicly.
  • The Music Man is a Hit!

    The Music Man is a Hit!
    The Music Man becomes a hit Broadway show! It grew in popularity, extended through 1,375 performances and winning Best Musical along with 4 other Tony Awards. It would eventually be developed into a film and be shown on television. (Parisi)
  • First Stereo Record Issued

    The first stereo record was issued. It uses two or more recordings played simultaneously for a more realistic sound. It's the most common way we hear recorded music today.
  • Young People's Concerts Created

    Young People's Concerts Created
    Leonard Bernstein creates Young People's Concerts which becomes a popular hit.
  • Moon Landing

    Moon Landing
    Humanity breaks into the unthinkable. Landing on the moon shows in advancement in technology, that would soon impact the musical word as well. This achievement challenges what is possible, and gave confidence to the American people. Confidence likely expressed through music! (Parisi)
  • Barbra Streisand Debuted

    Barbra Streisand Debuted
    Barbara Streisand is an accomplished Actress and composer who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award and has starred in many major Broadway productions.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. leads the march on Washington

    Martin Luther King Jr. leads the march on Washington
    MLK Jr leads the march on Washington DC to advocate for civil rights for African Americans
  • JFK is assassinated

    JFK is assassinated
    John F Kennedy is assassinated while waving to the people in Dallas, Texas
  • LBJ signs Civil Rights Act

    Lyndon B Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act into effect ending the legal justification for segregation and Jim Crow Laws.
  • MLK Opens 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival

    MLK Opens 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival
    America's own Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers the opening address at the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival. His speech emphasizes the importance of jazz, and how "this is triumphant music... everybody needs to clap hands and be happy." (Parisi)
  • The Sound of Music Produced

    The Sound of Music Produced
    The Sound of Music is a great cultural piece which is based on the real life story of the Von Trapp family, one of the greatest family of singers before the war. The family escapes the Nazis by fleeing from the country and this historically accurate piece provides context to life in the 1960s.
  • Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World

    Louis Armstrong - What a Wonderful World
    "What a Wonderful World" is a pop ballad written by Bob Thiele (as "George Douglas") and George David Weiss. It was first recorded by Louis Armstrong and released in 1967 as a single, which topped the pop charts in the United Kingdom.
  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

    Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    Andrew Lloyd Webber creates the music for the popular broadway Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
  • Apollo 11

    Apollo 11
    Apollo 11 was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon.
  • Woodstock Festival

    Woodstock Festival
    The first Woodstock music festival attracts 400,000. Held in New York with 32 acts, it had a huge impacts on Rock and Roll. With that said, the festival also heartedly featured jazz fusion, showing its popularity at the time. (Parisi)
  • Louis Armstrong Death (Mike Lehner 6/6)

    Louis Armstrong Death (Mike Lehner 6/6)
    Louis Armstrong was one of the most famous trumpeters and the most notable person to come out of the jazz era. He died in his sleep in 1971, he was 70 years old.
  • Duke Ellington's Death

    Duke Ellington's Death
    One of the "fathers of jazz" and one of the most influential Jazz musicians dies and the entire music community takes a major hit because of it
  • Chicago on Broadway

    Chicago on Broadway
    Set in Jazz-age Chicago, the musical is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the "celebrity criminal".
  • Digital CD (Mike Lehner 3/6)

    Digital CD (Mike Lehner 3/6)
    Like the phonograph this allowed music to be sold and transported easier and able to reach a further audience
  • Les Miserables First London Performance

    Les Miserables First London Performance
    The first performance of Les Miserables at London's West End. Les Miserables would go on to be the longest running musical in the West End, and second-longest in the world.
  • Scott Joplin's Performance at World's Fair

    Scott Joplin's Performance at World's Fair
    Scott Joplin played ragtime at 1893 World’s Fair.
  • September 11 attacks