Songs of Home at Jane Austen’s House Museum
These films were made at Jane Austen's House Museum, Chawton, Hampshire to accompany the exhibition ‘Songs of Home’ at the Museum of Sydney (August-November 2019), curated by Matthew Stephens with Graeme Skinner and Jeanice Brooks. Three of Jane Austen's own music books were displayed in the exhibition. These videos include some of the music they contain, as well as other pieces from Austen's family music collection. All of the scores are freely available online as part of the Austen Family Music Books project.
Soprano Helen Neeves and pianist Samantha Carrasco performed in the drawing room at Jane Austen's House, using an 1813 Clementi square piano currently on display at the museum and similar to the instrument Austen purchased on moving to the house in 1809. We know from family memoirs that Austen sang three of the songs recorded here - the "Song from Burns," "Que j'aime à voir les hirondelles," and "No My Love No" during the time she lived at Chawton. The "Soldier's Adieu" is an example of British national song, altered in Jane Austen's copy to praise a sailor's (rather than a soldier's) bravery. "Robin Adair," which appears in Emma, is the only song to be mentioned by name in one of Austen's novels. The variations on "My love she's but a lassie yet" is one of many examples of Scottish traditional tunes in Austen's music, and links her repertory both to that cultivated north of the border and to the many Scots songs that were taken to Australia by English and Scottish emigrants. A mini-documentary completes the set of films by considering the role of music-making in Jane Austen's life in Chawton.
The project director was Jeanice Brooks, and sound and video were produced by the Royal College of Music Studios. We acknowledge generous support from the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain, Jane Austen's House Museum, and Sydney Living Museums.