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Harpist to Publish Jane’s Sheet Music

Jane Austen News

Harpist to Publish Jane’s Sheet Music

th-11Fascinated by the music from the late 1700s and early 1800s, Malibu harpist Suzanne Guldimann has been busy compiling her ninth book of music for the Celtic harp, Music for the Netherfield Ball: Songs and Dances of Jane Austen’s Era, which will soon be available at Amazon. Guldimann’s new book focuses on selections from the Jane Austen Family Collection which Guldimann has transposed and arranged for the Celtic harp. Her source? In the mid-2000s, researchers compiling a bibliography on Jane Austen stumbled across the Austen family’s personal music collection, of which 18 volumes have survived and been put online.

Continue reading Harpist to Publish Jane’s Sheet Music

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The Sheet Music for Austen Film Scores

Jane Austen loved to play the pianoforte. She used to copy out music from her friends into books that remain in the Chawton House library to this day. Many of these pieces- classics by Bach, Mozart, Handel and others – are readily available for today’s musicians. If you want to try your hand yourself, A Carriage Ride In Queen’s Square, a wonderful compendium of original ‘easy to play piano pieces for Jane Austen’s Bath’ with a playalong CD included, is currently available from the Jane Austen Gift Shop.

But what if you want to play music from the movie soundtracks?

Jane Austen's WorldSurely these evoke the spirit of Jane Austen at least as much as the period pieces. Fortunately, many of these- from the original dances used in the movies- to sheet music of the film scores are easily obtained.

Perhaps the most comprehensive collection of works is Jane Austen’s World published by Faber music. It includes:

Emma by Rachel Portman-
Frank Churchill Arrives
Emma (End Titles)

Sense and Sensibility by Patrick Doyle-
My Father’s Favourite
All The Better For Her
Excellent Notion
The Dreame

Pride and Prejudice by Carl Davis
Pride & Prejudice Theme
Canon Collins
The Gardiners

Persuasion by Jeremy Sams
Persuasion Main Theme
Italian Aria

Jane Austen, The Music
Another book, Jane Austen, the Music  includes a greater range of pieces from both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.
Its contents are:

Sense and Sensibility
Weep You No More, Sad Fountains
A Particular Sum
My Father’s Favourite
All the Delights of the Season
Steam Engine
Excellent Notion
Combe Magna
There is Nothing Lost
The Dreame

Pride and Prejudice
Opening Title Music
Elizabeth Observed
Canon Collins
The Gardiners
Farewell to the Regiment
Thinking About Lizzy
Lydia’s Wedding
Double Wedding

Single sheets for Weep You No More Sad Fountains and My Father’s Favorite are available from the Hal Lenoard Corp. Additionally, music for just Sense and Sensibility, more recently, Pride and Prejudice (2005) and Becoming Jane have also been published. Of course, this only covers the pieces written for the films. For a list of classical music used in the movies (including many Bach and Chopin pieces in Persuasion and Mozart in Pride and Prejudice) and ordering information for all these pieces, visit the Republic of Pemberley’s Music page. For printable country dances, try Christ Peterson’s Traditional Music Page.

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The Moonlight Sonata

One of the most recognizable pieces of music from Jane Austen’s era is surely, The Moonlight Sonata. A supremely romantic piece, it’s emotional depth and complexity would no doubt have appealed to Austen’s most musical heroine, Marianne Dashwood.

Miniature from Beethoven's belongings, possibly Julie Guicciardi.
Miniature from Beethoven’s belongings, possibly Julie Guicciardi.

The Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor “Quasi una fantasia”, Op. 27, No. 2, popularly known as the Moonlight Sonata, is a piano sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. Completed in 1801 and dedicated in 1802 to his pupil, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi,  it is one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions for the piano.

Dedication page to "Moonlight Sonata".
Dedication page to “Moonlight Sonata”.

The first edition of the score is headed Sonata quasi una fantasia, a title this work shares with its companion piece, Op. 27, No. 1. Grove Music Online translates the Italian title as “sonata in the manner of a fantasy”. (Directly translated “sonata almost a fantasy”).

The name “Moonlight Sonata” has its origins in remarks by the German music critic and poet Ludwig Rellstab. In 1832, five years after Beethoven’s death, Rellstab likened the effect of the first movement to that of moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne. Within ten years, the name “Moonlight Sonata” (“Mondscheinsonate” in German) was being used in German and English publications. Later in the nineteenth century, the sonata was universally known by that name.

Many critics have objected to the subjective, Romantic nature of the title “Moonlight”, which has at times been called “a misleading approach to a movement with almost the character of a funeral march” and “absurd”.  Other critics have approved of the sobriquet, finding it evocative or in line with their own associations with the work. Gramophone founder Compton Mackenzie found the title “harmless”, remarking that “it is silly for austere critics to work themselves up into a state of almost hysterical rage with poor Rellstab”, and adding, “what these austere critics fail to grasp is that unless the general public had responded to the suggestion of moonlight in this music Rellstab’s remark would long ago have been forgotten.”

Continue reading The Moonlight Sonata

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Ludwig van Beethoven, Immortally Beloved Composer

Portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820

Ludwig van Beethoven, (baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best known compositions include 9 symphonies, 5 concertos for piano, 32 piano sonatas, and 16 string quartets. He also composed other chamber music, choral works and songs.

Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of the Holy Roman Empire, Beethoven displayed his musical talents at an early age and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and Christian Gottlob Neefe. During his first 22 years in Bonn, Beethoven intended to study with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and befriended Joseph Haydn. Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792 and began studying with Haydn, quickly gaining a reputation as a virtuoso pianist. He lived in Vienna until his death. In about 1800 his hearing began to deteriorate, and by the last decade of his life he was almost totally deaf. He gave up conducting and performing in public but continued to compose; many of his most admired works come from this period.

Jane Austen and Ludwig van Beethoven shared not only the same birthdate (December 16, if not the year, she was born December 16, 1775) but also a similar publication timeline. Both were demonstrating their respective creative powers at an early age, and though Beethoven outlived Austen by 10 years, their works , produced contemporaneously, are both now regarded as pure genius. We will never know if Beethoven had a chance to read Austen’s works. She was not granted the immense public acclaim he enjoyed, during her life, however, we know that several pieces (Scotch and Irish airs, in particular) in her private music collection were arranged by Beethoven and his mentor, Joseph Haydn. Continue reading Ludwig van Beethoven, Immortally Beloved Composer

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Jane Austen Festival Video recording last year’s events

Group visit resources

What a treat – view the Festival video – were you there?

WalkersPhotographer, film maker and friend of the Festival Owen Benson has edited together some highlights of 2011 Jane Austen Festival into a Festival video. Such a colourful event with costumes, music, food and dance in abundance.

What is amazing is the sense of fun and comeraderie amongst the participants. It seems that favourite events have a costume, music or food theme.

Have a look at the video yourself – it is fabulous. 2012 video to come shortly.


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The Jane Austen Songbooks

The Pianoforte was one of the most popular instruments for young ladies to learn to play during the Regency. With this, they could accompany dancers or singers or play solos that would entertain guests at gatherings and display their talents for all to see. Jane Austen, herself, was an accomplished musician and the following CDs give a glimpse into the types of music that she might have enjoyed.

Jane’s Hand: The Jane Austen Songbooks

Borrowing from Jane Austen’s own meticulously kept music books, Jane’s Hand reproduces 22 pieces of music written for piano and voice. The CD, which runs nearly 80 minutes, includes pieces by Handel, Gluck, Gay and even Georgiana Cavendish, the notorious Duchess of Devonshire. With guest appearances from an array of Sopranos and Tenors, as well as period instrument players (the Harpsichord, Fortepiano, Baroque Violin and Baroque Guitar), familar pieces are interspersed with period gems. The included 20 page booklet provides the history of Jane Austen’s music, as well as photographs of Chawton Cottage and Jane’s fortepiano. Information on the musicians as well as the full text of each song is also given.

For those who can’t get enough of the music from the movies, How Can Show How Much I Love Her? (Virgins are like a fair flower…) and Silent Worship (Did you not hear my lady?) – both featured in Emma2, are here performed. Click below for a sample. This CD was released in 1996 by Vox Classics. Though difficult to find, it’s well worth searching for.

Piano Classics from the World of Jane Austen

One of the best “Jane Austen” CDs available, Piano Classics from the World of Jane Austen features classical piano music accurately reflecting the musical milieu of Jane Austen’s period and social sphere. Only imagine, this is what was heard emanating from the elegant drawing rooms graced by many of Austen’s immortal and pianistic heroines. All musical selections are drawn from Austen’s personal library, social sphere, or time period.

The CD contains 73 minutes of music by well-known and lesser-known composers, including four complete sonatas, and premiere recordings of works by Cramer, Clementi, and Schobert. Included is a delightful 16-page booklet featuring a bibliography and in-depth program notes discussing Jane Austen’s pianistic background, the role music performance fulfills in Austen’s plot/character development and social satire, historic/stylistic sketches of each piece, and the artist’s personal speculations as to who might have played what, where, and under what circumstances.

The Jane Austen Companion

Produced by Nimbus Records, this CD, The Jane Austen Companion, is just that. A terrific companion to reading her works, writing your own Regency pieces or for simply getting you in that “Regency” mood. This CD is a delightful mix of popular pieces of the time. As the intelligent and interesting notes maintain, “London at the time of Jane Austen was one of the most exciting centers in all of Europe for music,” and this was an era of great fertility of composers in general. Lucky Jane! Imagine publishing your second novel the same year that Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony receives its premiere. Or offering your fourth novel to the public near the time of the first performance of Schubert’s Fifth Symphony. The program highlights popular music from Austen’s time by Mendelssohn, Haydn, Fasch, J.C. Bach, Boyce, Schubert and others.*

While there is no proof that Jane, herself, favored these composers or even listened to these particular pieces, they do provide a lovely picture of this period’s music for the upper classes. Other CDs may contain country dances or chamber pieces- both popular and important styles of the time- this is just a slice of life- a peek into the Regency’s orchestral scene.

*Gwendolyn Freed and other quotes from

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A Very Innocent Diversion

[Aunt Jane] began her day with music – for which I conclude that she had a natural taste…she practiced regularly every morning – she played very pretty tunes I thought – I liked to stand by her and listen to them…much that she played was from manuscript, copied out by herself – and no neatly and correctly that it was as easy to read as print.
From the Memoirs of Jane Austen’s neice Caroline, 1867

Piano music seems to be very much at the heart of Jane Austen’s life. Her neice Caroline tells us that she practiced every day and the majority of music in the writer’s music collection at her house in Chawton, Hampshire, includes something to be played on the piano, whether as a solo instrument, or a song accompaniment or an important part in a chamber music piece she would have performed with friends and family. The music by Piccini, Pleyel and Eichner on this recording can all be found in the Chawton music collection. Further volumes of music known to have been associated with Jane Austen but not kept in her Chawton house include music by Haydn, and so two of his sonatas were chosen for the recording. Muzio Clementi was such a major musical figure at the time – he was active as a publisher, composer and piano maker – that his music must have been known to Jane Austen.

Jane Austen’s own piano was made by Stodart and would have been very similar to one of the instruments used on this recording (tracks 7-12) – a Stodart piano of 1807. This small instrument looks rather like a highly decorated small sideboard which opens up to reveal the keyboard, action and strings of a very fine instrument. Its delicate sound seems perfect for the small-scale, intimate sonatinas of Pleyel which can be found in the fourth of the eight volumes of music in Jane Austen’s Chawton collection.

The other piano used for most of the music was made by the firm of Broadwood in 1801. This is a grand piano and consequently has a fuller sound than the Stodart square piano. The Broadwood make was one of the most popular of the time. The firm made pianos for the royal family, having previously made harpsichords. In fact, this piano looks very similar in size and shape to a harpsichord, and certainly is closer in style to the older instrument than to the modern grand piano of today. What both these instruments lack compared to modern instruments is the power and sheer volume of sound that a new piano can generate from its much greater string tension and solid iron frame. Both these old pianos are lightly constructed, but what they lack in power they more than make up for in the clarity and subtlety of their sound. It is certainly the sound that Jane Austen would have known and fits the gentle, elegant character of the music extremely well. These pianos were used in the recent film version of Sense and Sensibility and in the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.

Track Listing

  1. Overature La Buona Figliuola: Niccolo Piccini
  2. Moderato: Joseph Haydn, Sonata in D major Hob. XVI/4
  3. Menuet: Joseph Haydn, Sonata in D major Hob. XVI/4
  4. Allegro: Joseph Haydn, Sonata in C major Hob. XVI/1
  5. Adagio: Joseph Haydn, Sonata in C major Hob. XVI/1
  6. Menuet: Joseph Haydn, Sonata in C major Hob. XVI/1
  7. Menuetto: Ignaz Pleyel, Sonatina 1 in C major
  8. Allegro: Ignaz Pleyel, Sonatina 1 in C major
  9. Allegretto e Variazione: Ignaz Pleyel, Sonatina 2 in D major
  10. Allegro: Ignaz Pleyel, Sonatina 2 in D major
  11. Moderato e due Variazione: Ignaz Pleyel, Sonatina 3 in F major
  12. Andante ma non Troppo: Ignaz Pleyel, Sonatina 4 in A major
  13. Andantino molto: Ernst Eichner, Sonata in A major Op 3/1
  14. Allegro: Ernst Eichner, Sonata in A major Op 3/1
  15. Spiritoso: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in C major Op 36/3
  16. Un Poco Adagio: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in C major Op 36/3
  17. Allegro: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in C major Op 36/3
  18. Presto: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in G major Op 36/5
  19. Air Suisse: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in G major Op 36/5
  20. Rondo Alldegro di Molto: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in G major Op 36/5
  21. Allegretto: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in G major Op 36/2
  22. Allegretto: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in G major Op 36/2
  23. Allegro: Muzio Clementi, Sonatina in G major Op 36/2

Performance by Martin Souter on Broadwood (1801) and Stodart (1807, tracks 7-12) pianos
Recorded in Finchcocks, Goudhurst, Kent by kind permission of Richard and Katrina Burnett
Pianos tuned by Alastair Lawrence
Produced by Martin Souter

The Jane Austen Centre in Bath is a permanent exhibition set in the heart of Georgian Bath, England. The centre opened in May, 1999 with the aim of providing the perfect starting point to the exploration of Bath in the time of Jane Austen.

Working closely with Classical Communications, we are delighted to present this elegant musical medley, reminiscent of times past.

A Very Innocent Diversion is available for purchase exclusively at the Jane Austen Centre, Bath. Order it online, today or stop by our Museum Shop to pick up a copy.

Text and music copyright Classical Communications, 2000
Made in the EU

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The History of the Glass Armonica

glass armonica

The History of the Glass Armonica

“Of all my inventions, the glass armonica has
given me the greatest personal satisfaction”
– Benjamin Franklin

A young lady’s level of accomplishment, during Jane Austen’s day, was in part dependant upon her musical abilities. One of the strangest instruments to gain popularity during the Regency was the Glass harmonica. An example of this can be seen in the 1999 film version of Mansfield Park. Although not mentioned in Austen’s novels, it is a sound that would not have been unfamiliar to her audience.

Listen to Lesley Barber’s interpretation of a period Armonica piece from the Mansfield Park soundtrack.The glass harmonica, also known as glass armonica or simply armonica (derived from “armonia,” the Italian word for harmony) is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction (instruments of this type are known as friction idiophones).

Because its sounding portion is made of glass, the glass harmonica is a crystallophone. Sets of glasses struck with sticks as a percussion instrument have existed since ancient times. The phenomenon of rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine goblet to make it sing is documented back to Renaissance times; Galileo considered the phenomenon (in his Two New Sciences), as did Athanasius Kircher.

The Irish musician Richard Puckeridge is typically credited as the first to play a set of such glasses by rubbing his fingers around the rims; although it is not entirely certain he was the first, he certainly popularized it. Beginning in the 1740s, he performed in London on a set of upright goblets filled with varying amounts of water. During the same decade, Christoph Willibald Gluck also attracted attention performing in England on a similar instrument.

Benjamin Franklin invented a radically new arrangement of the glasses in 1761 after seeing water-filled wine glasses played by William Deleval. (By this time Puckeridge and his instrument both had perished in a fire.) Franklin, who called his invention the “armonica” after the Italian word for harmony, worked with London glassblower Charles James to build one, and it had its world premiere in January of 1762, played by Marianne Davies.

In Franklin’s version, the bowls were mounted nested on a horizontal spindle and the whole spindle turned by means of a foot-operated treadle. The sound was produced by rubbing the rims of the bowls with moistened fingers. With the Franklin design it is possible to play ten glasses simultaneously if desired, a technique that is very difficult if not impossible to execute using upright goblets. Franklin also advocated the use of a small amount of powdered chalk on the fingers which helped produce a clear tone in the same way rosin is applied to the bows of string instruments.

Some 18th and 19th century specimens of the armonica have survived into the 21st century. Franz Mesmer also played the armonica and used it as an integral part of his Mesmerism.

Mozart’s Adagio for Glass Armonica, along with works by Beethoven, Donizetti, Richard Strauss and Camille Saint-Saëns were composed for the instrument. European monarchs indulged in it, and even Marie Antoinette had taken lessons on it.

The instrument’s popularity did not last far beyond the 18th century, partially because of a strange rumor that using the instrument caused both musicians and their listeners to go insane.

One example of fear from playing the glass armonica was noted by a German musicologist Friedrich Rochlitz in Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung where it is stated that “the armonica excessively stimulates the nerves, plunges the player into a nagging depression and hence into a dark and melancholy mood that is apt method for slow self-annihilation. If you are suffering from any nervous disorder, you should not play it; if you are not yet ill you should not play it; if you are feeling melancholy you should not play it.”

While one armonica player, Marianne Kirchgessner, is known to have died at the age of 39, others (including Franklin himself) lived long and full lives. By 1820 the glass armonica had disappeared from public performance, perhaps because musical fashions were changing — music was moving out of the relatively small aristocratic halls of Mozart’s day into larger and larger concert halls of Beethoven and his successors, and the delicate sound of the armonica simply could not be heard. The harpsichord disappeared at about the same time — perhaps for the same reason.

A modern version of the “purported dangers” claims that players suffered lead poisoning because armonicas were (and some still are) made of lead glass. However, there is no known scientific basis for the theory that merely touching lead glass can cause lead poisoning. On the other hand, it is known that lead poisoning was common in the 18th and early 19th centuries for both armonica players and non-players alike: doctors prescribed lead compounds for a long list of ailments, lead oxide was used as a preservative in food and beverages, food was cooked in tin/lead pots, and acidic beverages were commonly drunk from lead pewter vessels. Even if armonica players of Franklin’s day somehow received trace amounts of lead from their instruments, that would likely have been dwarfed by the lead they were receiving from other sources.

The glass armonica was re-invented by a German glassblower and musician, Gerhard B. Finkenbeiner (1930–1999) in 1984. After thirty years of experimentation, Finkenbeiner’s prototype consist of clear glasses and glasses with gold bands. Those with gold bands indicate the equivalent of the black keys on the piano. G. Finkenbeiner Inc., of Waltham, Massachusetts, continues to produce these prototypes.


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