The Austen Family Music Books Project
I must have my share in the conversation if you are speaking of music. There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient. And so would Anne, if her health had allowed her to apply. I am confident that she would have performed delightfully…
Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 31.
Music was an important part of Jane Austen’s life and, while we are sure she would never have seriously described her abilities as boastfully as did her creation, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, above, she was seriously interested in music that appealed to her and played on her piano every morning when she lived at Chawton cottage.
She collected music in her manuscript music books and the eight manuscript music books that are part of the Jane Austen Memorial Trust’s collection at the Museum have recently been returned to us after being studied by Professor Jeanice Brooks, Ms. Samantha Carrasco and Professor David Owen Norris of Southampton University for part of their Austen Family Music Project. They are undertaking a major study of the Austen family’s interest in music and are investigating how they collected it, made copies of it and performed music in their homes. We hope that in the near future images of all the Austen family music books in our collection will be available for you to view online.
It is a totally fascinating project with which the Museum is very proud to be associated. Go here to the Project’s website to read more about it.
Hopefully, there will be more news about this project available later this year, but in the meantime we thought you might like to see the frontispiece from Book Two of the manuscript music books in the Museums’ collection: