- 18 January – The Council of Trent begins a new session, in the course of which it considers decrees relating to sacred music.
- Cristofano Malvezzi enters the service of the Medici in Florence.
- Alfonso Ferrabosco the elder arrives in England and is employed at the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England.
- Rinaldo del Mel begins his musical studies at the Cathedral of St. Rombaut.
- Pietro Aron – Thoscanello de la musica, fourth edition
- Jacobus de Kerle – Preces Speciales (setting of texts by Pedro de Soto)
- Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina – Missa Papae Marcelli
- January 20 – Ottavio Rinuccini, Italian librettist (died 1621)
- April/May – Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, Dutch organist and composer (died 1621)
- John Milton, English amateur composer (died 1647)
- probable – John Bull, English composer and organ builder (died 1628)