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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? Surely 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 Devonshire All The Better For Her Excellent Notion The Dreame Pride and Prejudice by Carl Davis Pride & Prejudice Theme Canon Collins The Gardiners Summary Persuasion by Jeremy Sams Persuasion Main Theme Tristesse Italian Aria 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 Patience All the Delights (more…)
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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

Beethoven
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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Create a Jane Austen’s Room Box: Dollhouse Style

One of our readers recently shared a project that he has been working on. Author and art historian, Alexander Chefalas also happens to be a 1/12 scale miniature enthusiast. On his blog, MyGreekMiniatures.com, he shares numerous Regency themed projects, and has offered to here detail, in English, the step by step process he undertakes in creating his windows into Jane Austen’s world.

The completed Austen inspired room box.
The completed Austen inspired room box.

As a true & loyal fan of Miss Austen I decided to make a roombox inspired by her last and beloved home at Chawton cottage.

A view of Jane Austen's pianoforte at Chawton Cottage.
A view of Jane Austen’s pianoforte at Chawton Cottage.
Jane Austen's writing desk inspired this room box.
Jane Austen’s writing desk inspired this room box.

I found a small wall-case display in my store room and I decided to create a small roombox in order to put it next to her novels in my bookcase. Continue reading Create a Jane Austen’s Room Box: Dollhouse Style

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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 (more…)
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The Harp as a Status Symbol

A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself, and both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a little lawn, surrounded by shrubs in the rich foliage of summer, was enough to catch any man’s heart. Mansfield Park Next to the Pianoforte, the Harp is the most mentioned instrument in Jane Austen’s Novels. Harp lessons were reserved for the priviledged daughters of indulgent parents. While the piano was necessary and functional, the harp was stylish. It was an expensive indulgence taught by visting “Masters”. Some music training, along with art and dancing lessons was deemed necessary to finish off the training provided by the family governess, regardless of Whether the family daugthers were sent to school or not. Indeed, the level of education obtained by Jane Austen’s heroines is in direct proportion to her family’s financial and social status. Jane Fairfax, Marianne Dashwood and Anne Elliot play the piano, but Catherine Morland, daughter of a country curate neither draws or plays. Mary Crawford, Georgiana Darcy and Henrietta and Louisa Musgrove, wealthy, fashionable young ladies, all, play the harp.   Patrick Doyle’s interpretation of a period Harp piece from the Sense and Sensibility soundtrack. In his essay on female accomplishments, Henry Churchyard notes, “For women of the “genteel” classes the goal of non-domestic education was thus often the acquisition of “accomplishments”, such as the ability to draw, sing, play music, or speak modern (i.e. non-Classical) languages (generally French and Italian). Though it (more…)
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Jane Austen’s Piano

On the left is the Jane Austen Gift Shop’s beautiful new piano brooch, designed to reflect the importance of the piano both in Jane Austen’s life and her works. Though crafted for the first time in the early 1700s, the piano-forte was, by Jane’s era, the most widely played instrument in the growing middle class. In a time before recordings of any kind, live performance was they only way to enjoy music. Proficiency on an instrument was equally essential for entertainment and as a marketable skill, whether in the job market (as a governess, perhaps) or the marriage market, as yet another accomplishment to add to one’s list. Public performance at parties gave young ladies added exposure on an already crowded field. More of Jane Austen’s heroines play the piano (in her books, known as the piano, pianoforte and piano-forte) than any other instrument. In fact, as in life, the majority play to some extent and it is, rather, those who do not that we may look to for character observation. Catherine Morland and Fanny Price, models of modest simplicity, have no desire to learn (and perhaps an inferred desire to avoid performance) Practical Elinor Dashwood leaves the playing to her younger sister Marianne, who excels at both the emotional side of musical interpretation and the art of performing. Anne Du Bourgh is, her mother thinks, too ill to learn (or is it her mother, who similarly never learnt, trying to control her daughter in this area as well?) Learning (more…)
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The History of the Waltz

“Here ceased the concert part of the evening, for Miss Woodhouse and Miss Fairfax were the only young lady performers; but soon (within five minutes) the proposal of dancing — originating nobody exactly knew where — was so effectually promoted by Mr and Mrs Cole, that every thing was rapidly clearing away, to give proper space. Mrs Weston, capital in her country-dances, was seated, and beginning an irresistible waltz; and Frank Churchill, coming up with most becoming gallantry to Emma, had secured her hand, and led her up to the top.” Emma Few sights are as romantic as that of a couple, absorbed in each other, sweeping across the floor in a dreamy waltz. It is certainly the highlight of many a fairy tale and even Jane Austen allows her couples ample time on the dance floor. While the English Country Dance is most associated with Jane Austen’s novels, many will be surprised to discover that by the early 1800’s the waltz had also made it’s way across the channel and was being danced by the more progressive of the Beau Monde. The fact that it was a couples dance (as opposed to the traditional group dances), and that the gentleman actually clasped his arm around the lady’s waist, gave it a dubious moral status in the eyes of some. By 1814, the waltz, originally considered decadent, was finally sanctioned as appropriate behaviour when it was approved at the ultra fashionable Almacks, though the patronesses there still kept a firm (more…)