1859 in music
- January 14 – Hans von Bülow interrupts a performance of Franz Liszt's Die Ideale at the Berlin Singakademie to ask for hostile elements in the audience to be silent.
- January 22 – The First Piano Concerto of Johannes Brahms is given its first public performance in Hanover.
- February 8 – Count Michael Wielhorsky invites musical associates to his home in an attempt to revive the Symphonic Society; this indirectly results in the formation of the Russian Musical Society, under the patronage of Grand Duchess Elena Pavlovna and her protégé, Anton Rubinstein.
- March 4 – Charter of the French Opera House, New Orleans, which opens on December 1 of the same year with a gala performance of Rossini's William Tell.
- March 11 – Giuseppe Verdi announces his retirement to friends at a dinner party.
- March 12 – The Prelude to Act 1 of Tristan und Isolde receives its first public performance at the Sophieninselsaal in Prague, in a charity concert in aid of poor medical students, conducted by Hans von Bülow, who provided his own concert ending for the occasion.
- April 3 – Richard Wagner takes up residence in Lucerne, Switzerland.
- April 4 – Bryants Minstrels give the first performance of "Dixie" at Mechanics' Hall, New York City.
- April 4 – Tannhäuser is performed at the Stadt Theater in New York City under the musical direction of Carl Bergmann. It is the first performance of a Wagner opera in the United States.
- May 6 – At the first concert of the Victoria Philharmonic Society, its future conductor John Bayley is a soloist on both clarinet and violin.
- July 1 – A monument to George Frideric Handel (by Hermann Heidel) is unveiled in his birthplace, Halle; Franz Liszt is among those present.
- October 23 – Richard Wagner and an ailing Hector Berlioz meet in Paris and make up their differences.
- December 19 – César Franck inaugurates the new organ at the basilia of Sainte-Clotilde, Paris, an instrument built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
- Alexander Borodin begins a period of chemical research at Heidelberg, working on benzene derivatives.
- Alberto Mazzucato becomes musical director of La Scala opera house.
- Richard Wagner finishes his opera Tristan und Isolde. The Prelude to Act 1 receives its first public performance on March 2.
Published popular music
- "Darling little blue eyed Nell" w. B. E. Woolf m. Frederick Buckley
- In 1859, John Freeman Young published the English translation of Silent Night that is most frequently sung today.
- Charles-Valentin Alkan – Concerto for Solo Piano
- Mily Balakirev – Overture to King Lear
- Johannes Brahms
- Max Bruch – String Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 9
- Felix Draeseke – Helges Treue
- Edvard Grieg
- 23 Little Piano Pieces, EG 104
- Siehst du das Meer, for voice and piano
- Fromental Halévy – Italie (cantata)
- Franz Liszt
- first version of Psalm 23
- Prelude after a theme from Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen for piano
- Deux Épisodes d'apres le Faust de Lenau (orchestral arrangement)
- Te Deum for chorus, organ, brass and percussion
- César Cui – The Mandarin's Son
- Léo Delibes – L'Omelette à la Follembuche
- Charles Gounod – Faust first performed in Paris. Libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré, based on a work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
- Giacomo Meyerbeer – Le pardon de Ploërmel
- Giuseppe Verdi – Un ballo in maschera
- January 26 – W. O. Forsyth, pianist and composer (died 1937)
- February 1 – Victor Herbert, cellist, conductor and composer (died 1924)
- April 3 – Reginald de Koven, US composer (died 1920)
- April 5 – Wilhelm Harteveld, composer (died 1927)
- April 11 – Basil Harwood, organist and composer (died 1949)
- May 13 – August Enna, composer (died 1939)
- June 22 – Frank Heino Damrosch, founder of Institute of Music (died 1937)
- June 27 – Mildred J. Hill, composer of "Happy Birthday to You" (died 1916)
- July 21 – Charles H. Taylor, lyricist (died 1907)
- September 21 – Otto Lohse, conductor and composer (died 1925)
- September 24 – Julius Klengel, cellist, composer (died 1933)
- October 14 – Camille Chevillard, conductor and composer (died 1923)
- October 20 – Guglielmo Zuelli, opera composer (died 1941)
- November 15 – Joseph Vidal, composer (died 1924)
- November 19 – Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov, conductor and composer (died 1935)
- November 22 – Cecil Sharp, folk music revivalist (died 1924)
- November 30 – Sergei Lyapunov, pianist and composer (died 1924)
- December 21 – Max Fiedler, conductor and composer (died 1939)
- December 23 – Adrian Ross, English lyricist (died 1933)
- December 27 – William Henry Hadow, musicologist (died 1937)
- December 30 – Josef Bohuslav Foerster, composer (died 1951)
- January 7 – Peter Ferdinand Funck, violinist and composer (born 1788)
- January 13 – Francisco José Debali, composer (born 1791)
- February 6 – Jane Stirling, pianist and friend of Frédéric Chopin (born 1804; ovarian cyst)
- March 14 – Nicola Tacchinardi, cellist and operatic tenor (born 1772)
- April 14 – Ignaz Bösendorfer, piano manufacturer (born 1796)
- July 23 – Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, actress, singer and poet (born 1786)
- July 29 – Auguste Mathieu Panseron, composer and singing teacher (born 1796)
- August 18 – Antonio D'Antoni, opera composer and conductor (born 1801)
- August 28 – Edward Holmes, musicologist, music critic, pianist and music educator (born 1797)
- October 16 – John Fane, 11th Earl of Westmorland, soldier, politician, diplomat and musician (born 1784)
- October 22 – Louis Spohr, violinist, conductor and composer (born 1784)
- November 7 – Carl Gottlieb Reißiger, Kapellmeister and composer (born 1798)
- December 13 – Daniel Liszt, son of Franz Liszt and Countess Marie d'Agoult (born 1839; tuberculosis)
- December 31 – Luigi Ricci, composer (born 1805)
- Date unknown – Lewis Henry Lavenu, conductor, composer and impresario (born 1818)