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"Jane Austen's Music"

To begin your study of Jane Austen's music, you should obtain a copy of the book "Jane Austen's Music", by Ian Gammie & Derek McCulloch, published in 1996 by Corda Music Publications.  The subtitle to this book is: "The musical world of Jane Austen seen through the manuscripts and printed editions held by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust at Chawton with brief histories of contemporary composers and a catalogue of more than 300 musical works."  There is a companion book "Incipits from the manuscript sources Jane Austen's Music" which gives the first line of some of the music, to help in its identification.  These books are item numbers CMP436 and CMP436a in the Corda Music online catalog of Early Music.  You may purchase these directly from Corda Music, or from one of their authorized distributors.  In the USA, the authorized distributor who regularly carries these two books is Jane Austen Books.

Every song from the Austen collection that is mentioned on these page is listed with the number assigned to it in the Gammie/McCulloch book, which I call the GM number.  To find out more about any song (or its composer), use the GM number given to look up information in "Jane Austen's Music".



This book is the GM referred to elsewhere on this site.



For more information about the abbreviations used on this site, see the Guide to Abbreviations,  which is linked from the bottom of each page.




The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music is a searchable online database of music information and images, a treasure for music lovers and music students.  For several of the songs in the Austen collection, I found one or more versions in the Levy collection.  For each such song, I give the box and item number used by the Levy collection, which I call the LV number.  Given the LV number (box and item number), you can use the Levy Collection Search page to find information and images for that particular song.  There are some songs for which the Levy collection contains several different versions, in which case I selected the one I thought most like the version in the Austen collection. 

NOTE on searching the Levy Collection:  If you are searching for a particular phrase, such as from a title or first line, remember to be creative with spelling and punctuation.  For example, seaching for "beg my bread" (a phrase in the first line of the song Somebody, GM3:27) yields one version, while searching for "beg my bred" yields two others.

NOTE on printing: You can print the images in the Levy collection, for further study. I found that printing the images at 140% of the original yielded good results on 8.5x11 paper. You may want to experiment with your particular printer. 

You can find out more about the Lester S. Levy Collection at the main site.



This collection is the LV referred to elsewhere on this site.





Music Notation

After you try to play/sing from an old music score, you may think how nice it would be to create a clearer copy, in modern music notation. If you do not have a music notation program, I recommend the program Notepad from Finale Music as a good starting program. It is free, it is easy to use, and it is available for both Windows and Mac (I use an iMac for all my music and web development.)  Notepad allows you to hear the music you enter, and transpose it easily as needed. You will have to add grace notes, key changes and trill marks by hand, but Notepad is a good place to start. All of the .pdf music files on this website were created with the Printmusic program (also from Finale Music), a reasonably priced notation program which handles most of the grace notes, key changes, and markings that Notepad does not.




For some of the songs listed on this site, I include arrangements that I have made.  My arrangements are based on my own limited knowledge of 18th century music, some information about the pieces given in GM, and information in the various versions I have seen, in the Levy collection and elsewhere.  When transcribing old music, I sometimes find it necessary to make some adjustments, either because the old music cannot be read, or is incomplete, or appears to be incorrect. Sometimes I have made adjustments to make it easier to play or sing. (I am not a professional musician, and have limited vocal range.)  In all cases, I try to give at least one source for the original music, so that you can make your own arrangement if you wish.  All arrangements that I have made and posted on this site are Copyright ©  Joyce Donley unless otherwise stated.

By Jane's own hand...

GM describes 8 notebooks of music, only some of which (in particular most of books 2 and 3) are verified to be in  Jane's own hand. All of the music belonged to the Austen family, but not all belonged to Jane Austen herself. For specific information about which music can be called Jane's music, see GM.  This site discusses the music from the 8 notebooks listed in GM, without regard to which notebook belonged to which family member.

Also note, GM gives specific information about the version/publisher/date of the music.  The music shown and linked on this site is similar to, but not necessarily the same as, the original Austen music.  In particular, some of the music in the Lester S. Levy Collection site was published after the dates of the Austen notebooks.  I have made some effort to find music as much like the Austen music as possible, but I make no claim that the music shown/linked on this site is 'the same as' the Austen music. 




Orpheus Caledonius

"Jane Austen's Music" lists two collections of "Scots Songs" (GM8:02 and 8:03).  While looking for sources for these songs, I stumbled across the book "Orpheus Caledonius: A Collection of Scots Songs Set to Music by W. Thomson", a book of words and music published in 1725 and again in 1733. Many of the songs in the Austen lists appear in this book.  Original copies of this book are still around, and can even be purchased (try ABEbooks.com).  The 1733 version has been reprinted many times, including modern facsimiles by more than one publisher in the 1960s and 70s.  Copies of these recent facsimile publications are more easily obtainable, and may be found in many music libraries.  I found a copy in the UA library published in 1962 by Folklore Associates. 

Note that Orpheus Caledonius is a book I have used to locate "Scots Songs" that are similar to, but not necessarily the same as, the Austen music.  I make no claim that the Austens had or used the same publication.  It is simply a useful tool for finding scottish music. There are other collections of scottish music that will do just as well. 



This book is the OC referred to elsewhere on this site.


"The Innocent Diversion"

Gammie and McCulloch described the Austen music that is held by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust, and their work is the basis for most of this web site.  However, there are other collections of music of the Austen family that are privately held.  At present, the only description I have of these other collections is in the book "The Innocent Diversion" by Patrick Piggott (London, 1979.)  This book discusses music in Jane Austen's life and works, and is interesting to read, besides what it has to say about the collections of music. I will add information/links/arrangements for this other music at some point. 





Christmas Music

It is common for Austen lovers to celebrate Jane Austen's birthday with a program of music (such as those that led to the creation of this website).  Since Austen's birthday is in December, several people have asked for 'Christmas music of the period'. I have only found two songs in the Austen collection that I would call Christmas music.  These are "Nos Galen" (GM2:04, now used as the tune of 'Deck the Halls') and "Prayer of the Sicilian Mariners" (GM7:32) also known as "O Sanctissima".  You will find information about these songs in the "ncg" section of the composers index.  Corda music has published "Nos Galan Theme and 10 variations on a Welsh Carol from the manuscript copy made by Jane Austen", available from Corda Music Publications (CMP435) (and through Jane Austen Books.) A few libraries have this music, and you may be able to get it through Inter-Library Loan, but if you want to play it for a Christmas performance of Austen music, I recommend you purchase a copy of the Corda publication.










Last Update: 4/29/09


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