Music From The Jane Austen Songbook

Dialogue From Pride and Prejudice:

(Narrator) A scene from an evening party from Pride and Prejudice

Mrs. Lucas: (narrator) It will be her turn soon to be teased. I am going to open the instrument Eliza, and you know what follows.

Eliza: (JB) Mrs. Lucas, you are a very strange creature by way of a friend! Always wanting me to play and sing before anybody and everybody! If my vanity had taken a musical turn, you would have been invaluable, but as it is, I would rather not sit down before those who must be in the habit of hearing the very best performers.

Mrs. Lucas: (narrator) Do, please oblige us Eliza.

Eliza: (JB) Very well if it must be so, it must (glancing gravely at Mr. Darcy). There is a fine old saying, which everybody here of course is familiar with-"keep your breath to cool your porridge, and I shall keep mine to swell my song".

Oh had I Jubal's Lyre George Handel

Ask if Yon Damask Rose [1685-1759]

Chastity (Susannah)

Myself I shall adore

Reading from Pride and Prejudice:

(Narrator) Eliza's performance was pleasing, though by no means capital. After a song or two, and before she could reply to the entreaties of several that she sing again, she was eagerly succeeded at the instrument by her sister Mary, who having, in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for display.

Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than she reached. Elizabeth, easy and unaffected, had been listened to with much more pleasure, though not playing half so well; and Mary, at the end of a long concerto, was glad to purchase praise and gratitude by Scotch and Irish Airs...

Three Irish and Scottish Airs

Up in the Morning Early arr. Haydn

Will Ye Go To Flanders arr. Haydn

The White Cockade arr. Haydn


(Narrator) 19th century English society considered it undesirable for a gentlewoman to attain too much proficiency in the fine arts. To do so would imply the role of a lower class professional paid musician. In the following reading from Emma we get a glimpse of the social class implied by music. Emma, lacking neither wealth nor beauty, is well aware that she has not practiced the piano or singing well enough to be able to make a good showing when compared with Miss Jane Fairfax, of a lower social class.

A Reading from the novel Emma:

(Narrator) Emma knew the limitations of her own power too well to attempt more than she could perform with credit; she wanted neither taste nor spirit in the little things which are generally acceptable, and could not accompany her own voice well. One accompaniment to her song took her agreeably by surprise-a second, slightly but correctly taken by Frank Churchill. Her pardon was duly begged at the close of the song, and every thing usual followed. He was accused of having a delightful voice, and a perfect knowledge of music: which was properly denied; and that he knew nothing of the matter, and had no voice at all, roundly asserted. They sang together once more, and Emma would then resign her place to Miss Fairfax, whose performance both vocal and instrumental she never could attempt to conceal from herself, was infinitely superior to her own...

William Joseph Haydn


A ballad adapted in English words by T. Billington

(an arrangement of Allegro con brio from the Sonata in C ***Hob. XVI:35


Sonata in C, Hob. XVI:35 (1777-1779) Haydn

Allegro con brio

Dialogue from the novel Emma

Harriet: (narrator) Oh if I could play as well as you and Miss Faifax!

Emma: (JB) Don't class us together, Harriet. My playing is no more like her's than a lamp is like sunshine.

Harriet: Oh dear, I think you play the best of the two. I think you play quite as well as she does. I am sure I had much rather hear you. Everybody last night said how well you played..

Emma: Those who knew anything about it, must have felt the difference. The truth is, Harriet that my playing is just good enough to be praised but Jane Fairfax's is much beyond it.

Harriet: Well, I always shall think that you play quite as well as she does, or that if there is any difference nobody would ever find it out. Mr. Cole said how much taste you had; and Mr. Churchill talked a great deal about your taste, and that he valued taste much more than execution.

Emma: Ah! but Jane Fairfax has them both, Harriet.

Harriet: Are you sure? I saw she had execution, but I did not know she had any taste. Nobody talked about it. And I hate Italian singing-There is no understanding a word of it. Besides, if she does play so very well, you know it is no more than she is obliged to do, because she will have to teach.

The Sapling Oak Stephen Storace

Lamplighter Charles Dibdin

Reading from Persuasion:

(Narrator) By the late 18th century the British enthusiasm for Italian opera and Italian prima donnas had grown cold. Their enjoyment of music however, and their national pride prompted the British to perform Italian songs with English lyrics as the following description of a concert at Bath from Persuasion reveals.

(Narrator) A concert at Bath from Persuasion

Anne 's mind was in a most favorable state for the entertainment of the evening; it was just occupation enough; she had feeling for the tender, spirits for the gay, attention for the scientific, and patience for the wearisome; and had never liked a concert better, at least during the first act. Toward the close of it in the interval succeeding an Italian song she explained the words of the song to Mr. Elliot--They had a concert bill between them.

Anne: (JB) What alas shall Orpheus do? Whither go without his love? This is nearly the sense, or rather the meaning of the words, for certainly the sense of an Italian love-song must not be talked of, but it is as nearly the meaning I can give, for I do not pretend to understand the language. I am a very poor Italian scholar.

Mr. Elliot: (narrator) Yes, yes I see you are. I see you know nothing of the matter. You have only knowledge enough of the language, to translate at sight these inverted, transposed, curtailed Italian lines, into clear comprehensible, elegant English. You need not say any more of your ignorance. Here is complete proof.

Anne: I will not oppose such kind politeness, but I should be sorry to be examined by a real proficient.

Mr. Elliot: I have not had the pleasure of visiting in Camden-place so long, without knowing something of Miss Anne Elliot; and I do regard her as one who is too modest, for the world in general to be aware of half her accomplishments and too highly accomplished for modesty to be natural in any other woman.

What alas shall Orpheus do (Che faro senza Euridice) Willibald Gluck [1714-1787]

The Soldier Tir'd Thomas Arne [1710-1778]

The Battle of Prague, a sonata for the piano forte (c. 1788) Frantisek Kotzwara
(Narrator) In an era in which the wife was considered the property of her husband, the courting phase of a relationship was crucial. Austen's writing reveals that the way a man listened to a woman as she made music during the courtship might well indicate the way he would listen to her in other ways of marriage. Jane Austen, an avid musician and lifelong pianist, whose in this scene from Sense and Sensibility that a woman's accomplishments which made her more marriageable were often forgotten or neglected after the wedding.

Reading from Sense and Sensibility

(Narrator) A musical evening in Sense and Sensibility

(Narrator) In the evening, as Marianne was discovered to be musical, she was invited to play. The instrument was unlocked, everybody prepared to be charmed, and Marianne, who sang very well, at their request went through the chief of songs which Lady Middleton had brought into the family on her marriage, and which perhaps had lain ever since in the same position on the pianoforte; for her ladyship had celebrated that event by giving up music, although by her mother's account she played extremely well, and by her own was very fond of it.

Marianne's performance was highly applauded. Sir John was loud in his admiration at the end of every song, and as loud in his conversation with the others while every song lasted. Lady Middleton frequently called him to order, wondered how any one's attention could be diverted from music for a moment, and asked Marianne to sing a song which Marianne had just finished. Colonel Brandon alone, of all the party, heard her without being in raptures.

He paid her only the compliment of attention; and she felt a respect for him on the occasion which the others had reasonably forfeited by their shameless want of taste. His pleasure in music, though it amounted not to that ecstatic delight which alone could sympathize with her own was estimable when contrasted against the horrible insensibility of the others; and she was reasonable enough to allow that a man of five-and-thirty might well have outlived all acuteness of feeling and every exquisite power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make every allowance for the Colonel's advanced state of life which humanity required.

Four English Canzonettas (1794-1795) Haydn

Sailor's Song

She Never Told Her Love (Shakespeare)


The Mermaid's Song (Anne Hunter)

A Reading from Emma:

Frank Churchill: That will do. You have sung quite enough for one evening, now be quiet.

(Narrator) I beg of you another song, one more, of course we would not fatigue you on any account, but could you manage just one more song?

Pianist: I think you could manage this without effort; the first part is so very trifling. The strength of the song falls on the second part.

Frank Churchill That person who thinks of nothing but shewing off his own voice. This must not be.(To narrator) Miss Bates, are you mad, to let your niece sing herself hoarse in this manner? Go and interfere. (Pointing to the Audience) They have no mercy on her.

(Narrator) Here ceases the concert part of the evening. Let us repair to the ballroom for dancing.

Ms. Julianne Baird is managed by:

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