The Man who put Austen into Music
Jane Austen defined herself on the page with her clever, witty, magical writing. If there's one man who succeeded beyond all others in conjuring up the very essence of Austen in music, it would have to be Carl Davis. As the composer behind the soundtrack of the BBC's acclaimed Pride and Prejudice, Davis is in part credited with provoking 'Austen-mania' - as the series became a global cultural phenomenon, it sparked productions of other novels (including films of both Sense and Sensibility and Emma) and a huge jump in members of North America's Jane Austen Society to over 4,000 by 1997.
Davis had been writing scores for the BBC since the 1970s. Using classical music of Austen's time for inspiration, including a known-to-be-popular Beethoven septet, he aimed to communicate the wit and vitality of the novel, as well as its themes of marriage and love. The resulting soundtrack is glorious, with light-hearted scherzos, brooding passages, sweet melodies aching with romantic feeling and, of course, the theme tune, which is known to every Austen fan as the ultimate classic - hear that, and you instantly think of Mr Darcy, Elizabeth, and the illusive Mr Wickham.
Born in New York City in 1936 before settling in the UK from 1961, Carl Davis' spectacular career has seen him excel as both a composer and conductor. Enjoy this wonderful album as he conducts the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing a range of his works, including that theme tune - the ultimate incarnation of the music of Austen.
Are you an Austen fan? Click here to read about the publication of Sense and Sensibility. Alternatively, explore music from her time with some contemporary works - try our feature on Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony to get you started.