January 5 – Renato Carosone and his band start their American tour in Cuba.
January 6 – Elvis Presley makes his final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
January 16 – The Cavern Club opens in Liverpool, England, as a jazz club.
February 8 – Bo Diddley records his songs “Hey Bo Diddley” and “Mona” (aka “I Need You Baby”).
March – Chicago’s Cardinal Stritch bans all rock and roll and rhythm and blues music from Catholic-run schools, saying that “its rhythms encourage young people to behave in a hedonistic manner.”
March 1 – The Everly Brothers record in Nashville their first single “Bye Bye Love” for Cadence Records.
March 3 – The second annual Eurovision Song Contest is staged in Frankfurt am Main, West Germany. The contest is won by Dutch singer Corry Brokken with the song Net als toen.
March 19 – Elvis Presley purchases a mansion in Memphis, Tennessee, and calls it Graceland.
March 26 – Ricky Nelson records his first three songs.
March 27 – “Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)” from 1956’s Alfred Hitchcock suspense film The Man Who Knew Too Much wins the Academy Award for Best Song. Sung by Doris Day in the film, it proves to be one of her biggest hit records as well.
May 14 – In Paris, Heitor Villa-Lobos records his Bachiana Brasileira No. 4, with the Orchestre Nationale de la Radiodiffusion Française, for EMI. Through May 21 the recording sessions continue with Bachiana Brasileira No. 7 and Bachiana Brasileira No. 3 with Manoel Braune, piano.
May 26 – Paul Robeson, blacklisted at this time from travelling outside the United States, performs a concert from New York City via the new transatlantic telephone line to an audience in St Pancras Town Hall in London; on October 5 he uses the same means to address the Miners’ Eisteddfod at the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl in Wales.
June 20 – Toru Takemitsu’s Requiem for Strings is first performed, by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.
July 6 – John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles first meet at a garden fete at St. Peter’s Church, Woolton, Liverpool, England, at which Lennon’s skiffle group, The Quarrymen, is playing (and in the graveyard of which an Eleanor Rigby is buried).
August 5 – American Bandstand begins its 30-year syndicated run on US network television.
September 19 – Dalida is the first artist to be awarded a gold record in France for 300,000 sales of “Bambino”. This year, she is also the first female recording artist to have her own fan club.
September 20 – Jean Sibelius dies aged 91 at Ainola, his home in Finland, having completed no significant compositions for thirty years; at the time of his death, a performance of his Symphony No. 5 is being given in Helsinki under the baton of Sir Malcolm Sargent.
September 26 – Broadway première of the musical West Side Story at the Winter Garden Theatre (following tryouts in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia beginning in August) with music by Leonard Bernstein (who a week later is appointed music director of the New York Philharmonic orchestra) and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, his Broadway debut. This year also Bernstein conducts the inaugural concert of the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv.
November 25–27 – The first two Hollywood motion pictures starring Pat Boone, Bernadine and April Love, are released.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel name themselves Tom and Jerry and begin their recording career, signing with Sid Prosen of Big Records. Their first single, “Hey, Schoolgirl”, backed with “Dancin’ Wild”, hits #49 on the Billboard pop charts. Garfunkel is Tom Graph (so called because he like to write the pop charts out on graph paper) and Simon is Jerry Landis, a pseudonym he used during his early 1960s solo recordings. They tour for eighteen months before retiring to become college students and then reforming in 1963 as Simon & Garfunkel.
The Casals Festival is founded in Puerto Rico.
When Nat King Cole’s television show is unable to get a sponsor, Frankie Laine becomes the first artist to cross TV’s color line, becoming the first white artist to appear as a guest, foregoing his usual salary of $10,000. Other top performers follow suit, including Mel Tormé and Tony Bennett, but, despite an increase in ratings, the show still fails to pick up a national sponsor.
Gorni Kramer makes his first appearance on Italian television, in Il Musichiere.
Maria Callas is introduced to Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis.
“Suíte do Pescador” is composed by Dorival Caymmi.
Actress Debbie Reynolds earns a gold record for her song Tammy, which is the best-selling single by a female vocalist in 1957 in the United States. This song from the motion picture Tammy and the Bachelor is also nominated for an Academy Award.