1788 in music
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- January 9 – The elderly Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach reviews Johann Nikolaus Forkel’s book Allgemeine Geschichte der Musik in the Hamburgischer unpartheyischer Correspondent.
- January 22 – Composer Ignaz Pleyel marries Franziska Gabrielle Ignatia Lefebvre, daughter of a tapestry maker.
- February 6 – The Kärntnertortheater in Vienna closes, after the German Opera Company disbands.
- February 12 – Antonio Salieri is appointed Imperial Royal Kapellmeister by Emperor Joseph II of Austria, in succession to Giuseppe Bonno, who is forcibly retired.
- March 6 – Domenico Cimarosa, recently invited to St Petersburg by the Empress Catherine II of Russia, premières his La felicità inaspetata, which fails to impress his new patron.
- April 29 – Première of Antonio Sacchini's "tragédie lyrique" completed after the composer's death by Jean-Baptiste Rey.
- June 25 – Publication of three string quintets (K.406, 515, 516) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is postponed for a year because of a lack of take-up of subscriptions.
- July 17 – Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf is officially dismissed from his post as Amtshauptmann of Freiwaldau, but actually continues in the position for another seven years.
- November 25 – Three weeks before his death, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach writes his last known letter, to Johann Jacob Heinrich Westphal.
- Giuseppe Cambini – Le bon pére
- Thomas Carter – The Constant Maid, or Poll of Plympton
- Luigi Cherubini – Ifigenia in Aulide
- Franz Danzi – Die Mitternachtsstunde
- Giovanni Paisiello – L'Amor Contrastato
- Antonio Sacchini - Arvire et Évélina (posthumous, finished by J.-B. Rey)
- Antonio Salieri – Axur, Re d´Ormus (libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte after Beaumarchais); Il Talismano (libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte after Goldoni)
- Joseph Weigl – Il pazzo per forza
- Muzio Clementi – Keyboard sonata op.24/1
- Jan Ladislav Dussek – Three piano sonatas C.41–43
- Michael Haydn – Die Ährenleserin (singspiel)
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Symphonies 39 in E flat, 40 in G minor and 41 in C
- February 10 – Johann Peter Pixis, composer (died 1874)
- August 20 – José Bernardo Alcedo, composer (died 1878)
- October 11 – Simon Sechter, composer (died 1867)
- date unknown – Brita Catharina Lidbeck, Swedish concert singer and member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music (died 1864)
- January 15 – Gaetano Latilla, composer (b. 1711)
- March 29 – Charles Wesley, hymn-writer (b. 1707)
- April 12 – Carlo Antonio Campioni, composer (b. 1720)
- April 15 – Giuseppe Bonno, composer (b. 1711)
- June 28 – Johann Christoph Vogel, composer
- July 14 – Johann Gottfried Müthel, composer (b. 1728)
- December 14 – Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, composer (b. 1714)
- December 12 – Joseph Gibbs, composer (b. 1699)
- MusicAndHistory:1788 Accessed 23 May 2013