When I was in England, I had the pleasure to meet with Ros and Chris Oswald, who are also featured in the upcoming documentary, My Friend Jane. Ros shared with me her love for playing older musical instruments and how her love for Jane Austen led her to search for musical items connected to Jane’s story, Emma.
Please welcome Ros Oswald to Just Jane 1813…
Good day, Claudine. Thank you for inviting me to share my love for music and my love Jane Austen with your readers. I have been a pianist since I could walk but have always had an interest in early keyboard instruments such as Harpsichords, Clavichords, and Spinets. I have also always enjoyed reading and the works of Jane Austen had a particular appeal.
About 4 years ago I finally managed to buy a spinet (photo attached) and started learning how to play it. The technique is very different from the piano. I then started to make connections between the earlier instruments such as the spinet and the works of Jane Austen, especially in Emma, where the arrival of a square piano is so important. I give recitals for charity where I talk about the references to keyboard instruments in Jane’s works and I take my spinet with me.
Further researches led me to a fascinating new idea. George Kiallmark (an English composer of the time) wrote a set of variations on Robin Adair and the manuscript music for this is in the Austen music collection. It is far more likely (I think) that the reference in Emma is to the Variations and not the simple folk tune.
I decided to see if I could buy the music for the Kiallmark piece. I was hoping to find a copy from a modern collection. I looked on eBay as I could not find the music in my usual internet music shops. To my astonishment, I found the Kiallmark music. I bought it and when it arrived I was astounded to find that it was an original copy which was identical to the music in the Austen collection. I am sure it was from the same print run. So, I can now sit at a Broadwood square piano from 1812 and play from music identical to that in the Austen collection. I still find it hard to believe that this is even possible.
Ros recently received the delivery of her Broadwood square piano last week and here is a picture of it shown below. I think it’s just stunning, don’t you?
Isn’t this an amazing story? I never realized these points about Jane’s musical references in Emma and seeing these instruments and this music from Ros is so inspiring as to how people find various ways to stay connected to Jane Austen.
You can also see Ros and her husband, Chris, here, along with some other video clips from the show, which will air tonight on the BBC Two in the UK at 7:00 pm. I hope you enjoy the show!
Do you want to talk about how you connect with Jane Austen? I’d love to read your comments below this post.