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Jane Austen's House Museum via The Internet Archive

3 Pieces of Music Jane Austen Hand Copied Into Her Personal Collection

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Jane Austen's House Museum via The Internet Archive

The background of Jane Austen’s novels are filled with music. Elizabeth Bennet plays the piano for Mr. Darcy, and they joke about her skill compared to his sister’s. “Without music, life would be a blank to me,” one of Jane Austen’s characters rants in Emma. And of course, what would a dance be without music?

Like many well-off women of her day, Jane Austen was a capable musician, able to entertain guests and family members in an age before radio or television with her singing and skills at the piano. She and other members of her family collected sheet music, copying popular tunes into their own personal albums. Thanks to a University of Southampton digitization project, the sheet music copied by Jane and the rest of the Austens is now available online; the 18-album collection contains more than 600 pieces.

“Jane Austen’s novels are full of musical scenes, and this collection will help literature scholars and Austen fans to better understand the real musical environment that fed the novelist's imagination,” Jeanice Brooks, the University of Southampton music professor who led the digitization project, explains in a press release. Here are three highlights of the collection that feature Jane's handwriting.

1. "DECK THE HALLS"

Jane Austen's House Museum

The familiar Christmas tune comes from the Welsh song “Nos Galan.” The English words to the song (substantially different from the Welsh) were first published in a London songbook called Welsh Melodies with Welsh and English Poetry, decades after Austen’s death, but the melody is the same as the one Jane would have played.

2. LES DEUX SAVOYARDS

This comedic French opera by Nicolas Dalayrac was extremely popular in the 1790s. It tells the tale of two boys who make their living showing their pet marmot at fairs. The boys were played by female sopranos.

3. JANE’S KEYBOARD MUSIC

This volume of solo keyboard music contains a flyleaf signed by “Miss Jane Austen.” It’s a compilation of music published between 1785 and 1795 (when Jane was between 9 and 20 years old), including anthologies like “Fourteen Favorite Sonatinas for the Harpsichord Piano Forte.”

The whole digitized collection of the Austen family’s music is on the Internet Archive

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Museé d’Orsay, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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Art
A Century's Worth of Important Art History Is Going Online
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Tulip fields in Holland, Claude Monet (1886)
Museé d’Orsay, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

A century’s worth of art history research will soon be coming online. According to Artnet, the nonprofit Wildenstein Plattner Institute plans to digitize its extensive collection of art records.

The nonprofit WPI, founded in 2016, is a scholarly endeavor created by the billionaire art dealer Guy Wildenstein, who runs an international art-dealing empire that includes the Paris-based Wildenstein Institute. The Wildenstein Institute publishes catalogues raisonnés (comprehensive listings of every known artwork an artist has created), and the nonprofit arm, WPI is going to receive the rights to publish those catalogues. The research materials amassed by the Wildenstein family over the last 100 years will be digitized and made available online, the WPI announced this summer.

Though the institute hasn’t announced an exact timeline for this project, it plans to develop extensively researched online catalogues raisonnés for Impressionist artists like Claude Monet and Edouard Manet within the next few years. They will be regularly updated as new scholarship becomes available.

The institute will also have research on individual artworks, stock books from art galleries, collections of artists’ letters, annotated sale catalogues, and other materials vital to art historians. According to Artnet, this includes materials that were previously unavailable to the public or thought to have been destroyed. A full list of the materials available within the archives is scheduled to go online by the end of 2018, allowing researchers to request certain items from WPI for study.

“We are committed to using the latest technology to reveal the scope and richness of these holdings for the first time,” the WPI’s executive director, Elizabeth Gorayeb, says in a press release [PDF].

[h/t Artnet]

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PEN America
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literature
New PEN Archive Offers 1500 Hours of Audio/Video of Your Favorite Authors Online
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PEN America

PEN America has a new digital archive, and it will give you access to hundreds of hours of interviews, panels, and debates with your favorite authors. The literary and human rights organization just posted approximately 1500 hours of audio and video from events online.

The conferences, readings, and other events date back to 1966. Among the collection's highlights are Haruki Murakami’s first-ever public speaking event, audio from Pablo Neruda’s first visit to the U.S. in 1966 (as part of an event with the iconic, dome-obsessed architect Buckminster Fuller, among others), audio from a 1986 reading with Mario Vargas Llosa and Salman Rushdie, and video interviews with Toni Morrison.

For example, here’s a video from a 1982 event on banned books that featured Morrison, Grace Paley, John Irving, Gay Talese, and more.

It’s the first time PEN America has been able to make its entire audio and video archive available to the public. Digitizing the recordings will also help the organization preserve its history, since many of the analog recordings were in danger of deteriorating over time.

"With the release of the PEN America Digital Archive, these essential voices have been brought back to life, brimming with personality, passion, opinion, and sometimes bombast,” PEN America’s executive director, Suzanne Nossel, said in a press release. “Hearing directly from these greats will offer information and inspiration to writers, scholars, and free expression advocates for generations to come."

You can search the archive by keywords or author names, or check out the curated featured collections, which right now include programming with Toni Morrison from the past 30 years and multimedia from PEN’s 1986 annual congress, headed by Norman Mailer.

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