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Jane Austen's Hand-Copied Notation for Piano Offers a Glimpse into the Musical World That Inspir

"The background of Jane Austen’s novels [is] filled with music. Elizabeth Bennet plays the piano for Mr. Darcy, and they joke about her skill compared to his sister’s. “Without music, life would be a blank to me,” one of Jane Austen’s characters rants in Emma. And of course, what would a dance be without music?

Like many well-off women of her day, Jane Austen was a capable musician, able to entertain guests and family members in an age before radio or television with her singing and skills at the piano. She and other members of her family collected sheet music, copying popular tunes into their own personal albums. Thanks to a University of Southampton digitization project, the sheet music copied by Jane and the rest of the Austens is now available online; the 18-album collection contains more than 600 pieces.

Jane Austen’s novels are full of musical scenes, and this collection will help literature scholars and Austen fans to better understand the real musical environment that fed the novelist's imagination,” Jeanice Brooks, the University of Southampton music professor who led the digitization project, explains in a press release."

Ferro's article contains stunning images of musical notation by the Austens as copied from the original sheet music enjoyed by the family. The images include a page from "Nos Galan," the Welsh Christmas carol which would later become "Deck the Halls" and music from the popular French comedic opera by Nicolas Dalayrac, "Les Deux Savoyards." A final image reveals a page taken directly from an album of Jane's solo music for piano keyboard, very likely hand-copied by the author herself. The flyleaf is signed, "Miss Jane Austen."

Read more of Shaunacy Ferro's article at:

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