“What is that you are saying, Fitzwilliam? What is it you are talking of? What are you telling Miss Bennet? Let me hear what it is.”
“We are speaking of music, Madam,” said he, when no longer able to avoid a reply.
“Of music! Then pray speak aloud. It is of all subjects my delight. 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.” Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
I have often wondered what was required of a young lady to become a great proficient during Jane Austen’s time. Jane Austen, 1775-1817, studied the pianoforte until she was age twenty-one. As we know from reading her novels, music was an integral part of her stories. Several of her heroines played the instrument and sang, not to mention that her characters often attended balls and assemblies or concerts.
I suspect that Georgiana may have begun her musical studies at a very young age. While her first teacher may have been her governess, as she grew older and showed more promise, her father, and later her brother, would have engaged Masters who resided in London to serve as her tutors.
“Oh! Yes—the handsomest young lady that ever was seen; and so accomplished!—She plays and sings all day long.” Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
To become truly accomplished on the Pianoforte, a young lady such as Georgiana Darcy might have easily practiced six to eight hours a day, much like university music majors do today. Her technical studies may have included the older masters such as J.S. Bach, C.P.E.Bach, G.F. Handle, and Domenico or Alessandro Scarlatti. Then she would have been introduced to more contemporary masters such as Clementi, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. In addition, she would have had vocal studies where she would have been expected to learn Italian arias and popular ballads written by English composers.
In Darcy’s Melody, I have allowed several proficient musicians to join the cast of characters and I would like to introduce them to you here. For example, in chapter one, we first hear of Herr Schneider, Georgiana’s music master, from her days at school. Coming from a German descent, I envisioned him as having lived in Hamburg where he studied with the notable C.P.E. Bach before immigrating in his later years to London where he took up his teaching position.
Then, in Chapter Two, I have mentioned the acclaimed blind composer from Vienna, Maria Theresia von Paradis, 1759-1824. In my story, she happens to be a summer guest of the Darcys’ cousin, Lady Jessica Helmsley. In reality, Miss Paradis was a personal friend of Mozart and toured extensively in Europe as well as London. At the hospital concert, in chapter six, Georgiana and her friend Lady Lilyan perform Miss Paradis’ composition, the beautiful Sicilienne. Please click here to listen to Sicilienne by Maria von Paradis. This particular recording of Sicilienne happens to be arranged for the flute and harp.
As for Elizabeth Bennet, while she has not had the opportunity to study formally like her friend, Georgiana, in Darcy’s Melody we find that she has an inherit gift for singing. Her strength comes through her interpretation of the ballad song which was very popular during Jane Austen’s time.
Several of Lizzy’s first songs happen to be written by Irish favorite, Thomas Moore, 1779-1852. Even Darcy has a collection of Moore’s poetry which is referenced in the story. Please click here to listen to my recording of Believe Me If all Those Endearing Young Charms. by Thomas Moore.
During the course of the story we are also introduced to an English musician, Sir Henry Bishop, 1786-1855, who became the music director and composer in residence of Covent Garden around 1810, at the young age of 24. Mr. Bishop was known for his ever popular English Ballad Operas. In Darcy’s Melody, Mr. Bishop assists Lady Matlock’s committee in her charitable endeavors and is commissioned to write a song, Deep in my Heart, which will be sung later in the story by Lizzy. Please click here to listen to my recording of Deep in My Heart by Sir Henry Bishop.
While we journey our way through the posting of Darcy’s Melody here on the forum, I hope that you will enjoy how I’ve incorporated my own passion for music into this tale. Now that you’ve read a few of my thoughts and speculations, what can you tell me about your musical background? Have you ever studied the piano or another instrument? Do you sing? I wonder if any of you have performed professionally or know of someone in your family who does. Please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts, as I would love to hear them.
Jen Red ♫
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This was very interesting jen, I really enjoyed it. I have played the violin in a symphony Orchestra and loved every minute of it. I had a severe shoulder injury and the surgery made it impossible to play the violin. very sad for me. I also play the piano.. I still can do that but not for long periods of time. I like all genres of music but classical is my first love.
Hi Carma, We are kindred spirits since I also play the violin and piano. In my story, I have Mrs. Madison playing the violin just so that I could spread the wealth of music between some of our characters. It’s amazing how much time it takes to become “proficient,” isn’t it? And having studied, we enjoy what we hear all the more. Thanks for stopping by. Jen ♫
Jen, I’m a dancer, not a singer. How I envy people who sing or otherwise make music. What a gift.
Hi TeaGuide, I love “dance.” I’ve had several students who have studies ballet and I can’t believe how much time they put into practice. One of my teens was going up to Chicago 5 days a week to study at the Joffrey, and that includes the academic school year. I love the connections between all of the arts and we are so fortunate in this day and age to have such a wealth of musical for our enjoyment. Nice to hear from you. Jen ♫