For Laura Klein, a visit to Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire, inspired “The Jane Austen Playlist: Love and Music of Regency England.”
“It began as a discovery when I visited the museum in 2018,” explains Klein, a first-year PhD student in historical musicology and a Jane Austen scholar. “As a lifetime pianist and Jane Austen enthusiast, I was treated to a glimpse of her personal music manuscript collection in the museum holdings after playing the 1813 Clementi square piano also housed at the museum.”
Klein began to research the music in the manuscripts, discovering pieces and songs that reminded her of characters and scenarios from Austen’s novels.
“Austen herself was a committed pianist, practicing an hour every morning before beginning her daily activities—one of which would have been her writing, including the novels and letters we now devotedly read and reread the world over,” continues Klein.
“This piqued an idea of a performance that pairs the words off the pages of Jane’s novels with the lyrics of songs that share a similar narrative. Thus, ‘The Jane Austen Playlist’ was created and first premiered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on Valentine’s Day last year.”
On Feb. 25, the regional premiere of the same program at the Lakewood Cultural Center will capture the essence of Austen’s six major novels in a dramatized performance that features piano, voice, strings, flute … and period costumes.
Klein, who began her studies at CU Boulder last fall, is an established performer, teacher and affiliate faculty at Colorado Christian University. “My musicology research is historical and performance-practice focused with the goal to continue my current research while developing other related areas of music scholarship surrounding Jane Austen’s life,” she shares.
A recipient of the Dean’s Graduate Student Grant, the Entrepreneurship Center for Music’s Grant Award and the University of Colorado Boulder Graduate School International Travel Grant Award, Klein’s current residency with Jane Austen’s House kickstarts a yearlong project focusing on Austen’s best known novel, “Pride and Prejudice.”
Klein has been commissioned by the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) to create a premiere performance for the 2023 JASNA Annual General Meeting in Denver, Nov. 3-5.