Austen Family Sheet Music
Like many of the characters in her novels, Jane Austen learned to sing and play the piano as part of her education. Jane Austen's House Museum in collaboration with the University of Southampton library has digitized The Austen Family Music Books, an 18-volume collection of music belonging to Jane Austen and other members of the Austen family. The collection is comprised of musical selections copied by hand, as well as published sheet music. Many of the materials in the collection appear to have been passed down through different generations of women in the Austen family. It is interesting to consider how the collection grew and changed as various stewards made their own additions.
It is important to note that while some items in the collection are believed to have been copied or used by Jane Austen, others likely belonged to other family members. For instance, the sheet music for Stephen Storace's "Beaux yeux" (Beautiful Eyes) and "Jeunes cœres soyez fidelles" (Young Hearts Be Faithful) is signed "Mrs Austen" in the hand of Elizabeth Austen (née Bridges), Jane Austen's sister-in-law.1 Likewise, the principal hand of the Jenkyns 01 manuscript is thought to belong to Ann Cawley (née Cooper), whose signature is also found in the inside cover.2 It is believed that Jane and Cassandra Austen were sent to study with Cawley, a relation of their mother's, in Oxford in 1783. Based on this, it is likely that this book was part of the Austen sisters' early musical education.3 The CHWJA/19/2 manuscript, an album of keyboard solos and duets, is one of the manuscripts identified as being in Jane Austen's hand.4
1 "CHWJA/19/10 Stephen Storace, Beaux yeux," December 14, 2015, Austen Family Music Books, accessed August 16, 2016, https://archive.org/details/austen1678756-2001.
2 "Jenkyns 01 - Manuscript of keyboard and vocal music, copied c.1754-1760 with later additions," November 19, 2015, Austen Family Music Books, accessed August 16, 2016, https://archive.org/details/austen1676469-2001.
3 Laura Boyle, "Cassanda Austen: Jane Austen's Beloved Sister," July 16, 2011, Jane Austen Magazine, accessed August 16, 2016, https://www.janeausten.co.uk/cassandra-austen-jane-austens-beloved-older-sister/.
3 "CHWJA/19/12 Unbound music manuscript leaf, c.1790," December 14, 2015, Austen Family Music Books, accessed August 16, 2016, https://archive.org/details/austen1679003-2001.