Talk: Jane Austen – a knowledge of music

To celebrate the display of Jane Austen's music manuscripts for the first time in Australia, join three literary and music history experts to discuss the ways in which music played an important role in the life and work of one of Britain’s most beloved authors.

Music as a setting of domestic life - grand or simple - is explored in our new exhibition, Songs of home, currently on display at the Museum of Sydney.

Jane Austen's use of music in her fiction

Susannah Fullerton OAM, FRSN, President, Jane Austen Society of Australia

Jane Austen, an amateur pianist herself, uses music in her novels to reveal character, status and taste. Mary Bennet bores her listeners when she performs, Jane Fairfax on the other hand is so accomplished a musician that she makes Emma jealous. Mary Crawford tries to seduce Edmund Bertram by playing the harp for him, and Anne Elliot plays dance tunes so that other girls can dance with the man she loves. Susannah Fullerton, President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, will discuss Jane Austen's own interest in music and the fascinating ways in which she references music in her novels.

Jane Austen making music

Professor Jeanice Brooks, University of Southampton

Jane Austen’s family albums open up a rich world of music making, providing insights into the songs and instrumental music performed in Georgian homes and the way musical materials were crafted in domestic settings. This talk looks at how amateur musicians made musical things as well as musical sounds, exploring British and Australian contexts for Austen’s music books on display in Songs of Home.

Jane Austen’s music books from near and far

Dr Gillian Dooley, Flinders University

I first encountered Jane Austen’s music manuscript books in 2007, through Ian Gammie and Derek McCullough’s printed catalogue. Since then I have presented many concerts of selections from this music, and in 2010 I spent two weeks in Winchester consulting the books in the Hampshire Records Office. In 2015 the books were digitised, and I am now drawing on my experience as librarian, musician and literary scholar to catalogue the items in the collection individually, working with the online files from my study in Adelaide. In this talk I will look back on my 12-year relationship with Jane Austen’s music, as a performer and researcher, and discuss some of the intriguing discoveries I have made.

Professor Jeanice Brooks

Jeanice Brooks is Professor of Music at the University of Southampton (UK). She is co-founder of the Sound Heritage Network, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of Great Britain, and director of the Austen Family Music Books digitisation project. She has worked extensively on the musical history and interpretation of National Trust houses, as well as independent and privately owned historic houses. Her scholarly research includes articles on music, collection and display in 18th- and 19th-century domestic settings.

Susannah Fullerton, OAM, FRSN

Susannah Fullerton, OAM FRS, has been President of the Jane Austen Society of Australia for over 20 years. She is also Patron of the Kipling Society of Australia, a founding member of the NSW Dickens Society and of the Australian Bronte Association, and a member of the Dylan Thomas Society of Australia and of the Sydney Passengers Sherlock Holmes Society.

Dr Gillian Dooley

Dr Gillian Dooley is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in English literature at Flinders University, and a Visiting Fellow in Music at Southampton University. She has published widely on various literary and historical topics, and she has a particular interest in Jane Austen, often with an emphasis on music in her novels and her world. She was co-convenor of the ‘Immortal Austen’ conference in Adelaide, July 2017, and as a singer she has been curating and presenting programs of music from Austen’s personal collection since 2007. 

Event information

Member: $10

Concession: $15

Adult: $20

When & Where

Friday 15 November 2019 2.30PM–4.30PM

Museum of Sydney

Corner Phillip and Bridge Streets, Sydney, NSW 2000
Museum: 02 9251 5988

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