Sunday, March 25, 2012

Imagining a Dance With Jane Austen

It's not quite the discovery of a previously unkown Mozart piece in the attic but I was really excited to win this at a local auction recently. Last year I did really very well with some early printed music sold at Sotheby's and so, although I'm not particularly musical, I've kept a weather eye in that direction every since. This book contains more than 350 pages of music meticulously transcribed by hand and is dated 1804. There are a couple of entire Sonatas by the Italian composer Clementi, and several other Italians of the period. As well there are some airs and arias from Italian operas and a version of the folk song that became the French National Anthem. In particular I like that interspersed with the longer pieces there are folk dances, or rather what are now thought of as folk dances but which, at the time, might have been more like court dances. One imagines Jane Austen tip-toeing back and forth across the floorboards during an evening's entertainment.

Such is the wonder of technology that, without being able to play them myself, I have been able to use a whizzo piece of software that R has to transcribe and hear these pieces, and therefore, so can you...


notker said...

I think these are neither folk dances nor court dances but theatrical numbers from a stage version of Ali Baba: 'The forty thieves', libretto by George Colman after a scenario by Sheridan, music by Michael Kelly, first produced at Drury Lane, 8 April 1806.

The vocal score was published by Kelly himself:

The forty thieves : a grand dramatic romance as performed at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane... / composed & selected by M. Kelly. London : M. Kelly, [1806].

The puzzle is that two of the numbers are separately attributed to Charles Stewart, “Musician to Mr. Strange”:

The fairies and Morgiana's dance : as performed at the Theatre Royal Edinburgh, in the favorite entertainment of the Forty thieves / the music and ballet composed by C. Stewart.
Edinburgh : Printed and sold by Muir, Wood and Co.

Maybe Kelly’s Reminiscences (1826 etc.) will solve the puzzle. Though I doubt it.

Callum said...

Many thanks Notker. I happily own that I am no expert in 18th century music and so very grateful for any light shed. I should perhaps have said that in the MS copy I have, the Morgiana is given as "composed by Mrs Charlotte Bouverie" and the three items selected in the post are well scattered throughout the book with entire concerti and other pieces separating them so there is no indication from the book itself that they needs must all come from the original source.

Still hours of fun to have with this one I think before I have to think about selling it.

Thanks again


Who links to my website?