1742 in music
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- March 23 – Johann Sebastian Bach revives his St Matthew Passion BWV 244 (BC D 3b) with some further revisions of instrumentation and voicing at St. Thomas Church, Leipzig: the work is now scored with a ripieno soprano choir and viola da gamba and harpsichord in the second orchestra (the organ for this orchestra is under repair).
- April 13 – First performance of Handel's oratorio Messiah staged at the Music Hall in Fishamble Street, Dublin. Matthew Dubourg leads the orchestra. Handel leaves Ireland on 13 August.
- December 7 – The Berlin Court Opera is inaugurated with a performance of Carl Heinrich Graun's Cleopatra e Cesare.
- Joseph Benda joins the Prussian royal orchestra.
- Johann Sebastian Bach
- George Frideric Handel – Messiah
- Franz Xaver Richter – Kemptener Te Deum
- Giuseppe Carcani – Demetrio
- Carl Heinrich Graun – Cesare e Cleopatra
- Niccolò Jommelli – Don Chichibio
- Gennaro Manna – Tito Manlio
- May 8 – Jean-Baptiste Krumpholz, Czech composer (died 1790)
- August 19 – Jean Dauberval, French dancer (died 1806)
- Probable date – Martha Ray, English singer (murdered 1779)
- January 24 (buried) – Benedikt Anton Aufschnaiter, Austrian composer (born 1665)
- April 16 – Stefano Benedetto Pallavicino, Paduan-born librettist (born 1672)
- June 28 - Jan Josef Ignác Brentner, Czech composer (born 1689)
- July 22 - Andrea Adami da Bolsena, Italian castrato, master of the papal choir (born 1663)
- July 12 – Evaristo Felice Dall'Abaco, Veronese-born violinist and composer (born 1675)
- August 25 – Carlos Seixas, Portuguese composer (born 1704)
- date unknown - Matteo Goffriller, Italian cello-maker (born 1659)