website design software

Explore Jane Austen’s world

In this special concert to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, we have discovered, possibly for the first time, some of the original sources of music copied into the Austen manuscripts and some near relatives of others, all marked * in the programme. The rest of our music comes from our existing repertoire of Psalms, Carols, Glees, and instrumentals  typically used by the church bands and choirs in the reign of George III.

*Slow March in The Battle of Prague. Frantisek Kotzwara (1730-91) was a violin virtuoso and composer, born in Prague, who settled in England about 1775. The Battle of Prague is a piano sonata published about 1788. Printed copies occur twice in the Austen family music books, attesting to its popularity. We play two of the picturesque movements in our programme, starting here with the Slow March.

*Sicilian Mariners is one of only two pieces of church music we have found in the whole Austen collection, possibly copied while Jane was learning to play piano under Dr. George Chard. It first appeared in England in the European Magazine, November 1792, with the Latin words which we sing first. Our instrumental interlude is from William Shield’s The Mysteries of the Castle, 1795, which is most like the Austen piano version. We end the medley with a setting of Psalm 111 New Version from the Stratfield Saye barrel organ book. The tune is to be found in several MSS and printed books used by church choirs.

Lonsdale tune was adapted in 1788 from a gavotte in a violin sonata by Corelli, and is very widespread. It is in local MSS, including that from Hannington. We sing words from Isaac Watts' paraphrase of Psalm 133, together with some by John Fawcett (1740-1818).

*La TempÍte is a polka tune from the keyboard MS of Jane’s nieces, Cassandra & Louisa Knight. The tune is still used, but as a jig, by today’s barn dance bands. We thank Jane Austen’s House Museum for allowing us to use music in this book.

Weymouth is a Psalm tune by Gabriel Davis of Portsea, published ca.1800. The words are a paraphrase of Psalm 23 by “Theodosia” (Anne Steele of Broughton).

Harvest Home appeared in King Arthur (1691) by Purcell, was included by Sandys in his Festive Songs (1856), and in many folk-song anthologies since. Please join in.

The music for Psalm 5 New Version is by Samuel Pearce, about whom little is known, except that he published his Sacred Music, or A Pleasing Companion for chearful Christians in about 1776. The book is rare, and the setting is striking. The New Version of the Metrical Psalms by Tate & Brady appeared in 1696, and was widely used in church services until about the 1850s. Two survivors are Psalm 34, Through all the changing scenes of life, and Psalm 42, As pants the hart for cooling streams.

Our second piece from Kotzwara’s Battle of Prague sonata is entitled *Turkish Music, Quick Step and is a sprightly dance which Jane might well have played or danced herself.

*The Soldier’s (or Sailor’s) Adieu. In the Austen collection we find this among various pieces taken from theatre musicals or operas produced in London. As today, it was the practice to sell a book of the music, with a piano reduction of the score, often naming the famous singers featured. “The Wags, or the Camp of Pleasure”, from which this song comes, featured Charles Dibdin (ca.1745-1814) himself as the composer and star performer. Jane copied this song and changed “Soldier” to “Sailor”.

Hark, Shepherds, Hark is from our own Bundell MS, ca. 1837. The bass part is also in the MS from Hannington, and the tune was also collected by George Gardiner from a singer in Twyford as late as 1906.


*Walzer is from the keyboard MS book of Cassandra & Louisa Knight.

On Admiral Nelson’s Victory is a glee which names several distinguished admirals. It was composed by John Davy, born Exeter 1765. He studied under William Jackson, organist at the cathedral, and died in London in 1824. He wrote many songs and pieces for the theatre. We thank our friend Claire Willman for this transcription.

Hail Smiling Morn is a glee by Reginald Spofforth (1770-1827) of Southwell. It has been sung for many years in the Sheffield area as a carol. A song by Spofforth is in the Austen collection.

*By Greenwood Tree is a typical example of the plagiarism normal among theatre composers of the time, Shield being a prime offender. The original glee, “Here in cool grot”, by Lord Mornington, was given new words and an orchestration only a few years after Mornington’s death, for Robin Hood or Sherwood Forest. We can identify the printed pages which Jane copied into her MS book, because she copied all the performers’ names and the instrumental cues exactly. Again it seems to be a souvenir book to match the theatre production, which Jane might have attended. The fact that she copied the music suggests that she borrowed the printed book rather than owned it.

The catch, *Joan said to John, was written by Luffman Atterbury (fl.1765-96) and appears in Thomas Warren’s 6th volume of glees and catches, price 10/- for 42 pages. Warren was secretary of the Noblemen & Gentlemen’ Catch Club, and must have made a comfortable living from publishing books for their use. Jane copied the catch unchanged, but did she sing it with other names substituted: “Jane said to ???”

*Boulangeries is a dance, with its own tune. The tune is so simple, and was used so often, that many musicians would not have needed to write it down. It was printed in Joseph Dale’s Selection of 1820, if not before.

*Heaving of the Lead is a song subtitled A Favourite Song sung by Mr Incledon in Hartford Bridge [1793], with music by William Shield (1748-1829) and libretto by William Pearce, copied into one of Jane’s MSS. Charles Incledon (1763-1826) was a famous Cornishman and tenor who trained as a choirboy under William Jackson at Exeter Cathedral, later having a successful solo career in London. Hartfordbridge is in Hampshire, near Hartley Wintney, and the action takes place in the White Lion Inn and in a neighbouring military camp.

Harbro' New is from the Hannington MS (HRO 116A03/1) which belonged eventually to William Witts, and probably before to William Goddard, whose name has been scratched out. Psalm 11 New Version is indicated in the MS. The tune was first published in 1786 in London, and all printed instances are in 3 parts only.

Forgive, blest shade is a poem by Anne Steele (1717-78), “On the death of Mr. Hervey.”  Revd. James Hervey (1714-58) was a noted theologian, and a member of the Holy Club along with the Wesleys at Oxford. He held the living at Weston Favell. The poem was modified, and in this form set to music by John Wall Callcott (1766-1821), a London organist and glee composer.

*The Duke of York’s March, which Jane copied into her MS book, is attributed to John Gamidge, 1789, and also to Christopher Eley, who from 1785 was the first official bandmaster of the Coldstream Guards. Frederick, second son of George III, was created Duke in 1784, but the tune may be an older one re-titled.

[Home] [Events] [What we offer] [Concerts] [Workshops] [Church Services] [Special Events] [About the Music] [Pictures] [Reviews] [Links] [Visit Us] [Contact Us]