DIY Soundtrack

It’s no secret that Jane Austen’s Persuasion is my favourite work of literature, and it’s no secret that the 1995 adaptation of this book is one of my favourite films as well. The 1995 version had that grungy, authentic, candle-lit and make-up-less look way before it was cool and the acting is brilliantly executed.

The soundtrack is superb as well although unfortunately it was never published for purchase. The original music written for the film can only be heard by… listening to the film. However the music borrowed from more famous composers, Bach and Chopin, can be listened to anytime! For years Jane Austen fans with a penchant for classical music have been tracking down the pieces for us to and here I present my own DIY soundtrack for Persuasion (1995). This list includes a couple of almost-matches, pieces that are incredibly similar to those in the film and sound like they influenced Persuasion composer Jeremy Sams.

Music from Persuasion (1995)

Opening
Opening credits
Prelude for piano No. 21 in B flat major (‘Sunday’) Op. 28 – Frédéric Chopin

This piece of music is beautiful, and actually does sound like a Sunday. At least, it sounds like the part of Sunday when I am at home sitting near the window, in the sun, drinking tea. Listening to Chopin. If you get a chance to preview the recording of this piece before you purchase it, choose one with a more laid back tempo. Some pianists play this piece faster than how it is played in the film, and it changes the feel significantly.

Anne Packing
Anne packs up Kellynch
Prelude for piano No. 4 in E minor (‘Suffocation’) Op. 28 – Frédéric Chopin

The piece of music played after the Elliots leave Anne behind to pack up the family home is an original piece written for the film and incarnations of this melody keep manifesting throughout the film. Chopin’s prelude number four is a very similar piece, and very aptly titled “Suffocation”. It holds the place for this scene very well in a DIY Soundtrack.

To Uppercross copy
Anne moves to Uppercross
French Suite No. 1 in D minor: 3. Sarabande – Johann Sebastian Bach

In Persuasion this Sarabande is played very straight down the line and it captured the mood of the scene very well. If you can preview your purchase and you want to get as close to the film as possible, choose one where the pianist isn’t playing it appassionato and bending the tempo around too much.

Playing Piano copy
Captain Wentworth plays the piano

The Minstrel Boy – Traditional Irish
“The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone / in the ranks of death you will find him.”

Such sad words, yet such as happy tune! This is the tune that Captain Wentworth awkwardly picks out on the piano when flirting with the Musgrove girls, and the same tune that Anne plays with much more confidence when she anticipates an awful and lonely future in Bath. Sadface.

Dancing copy
Dancing at Uppercross

The Dusky Night – Traditional English
The evening ended with dancing. On its being proposed Anne offered her services, as usual, and thought her eyes would sometimes fill with tears as she sat at the instrument, she was extremely glad to be employed and desired nothing in return but to be unobserved.”

This scene breaks my heart nearly every time I read or watch it. And even when I hear this music played in other Austen films it still has a bittersweet ring carrying over. I’m not sure of any recordings of this piece but sheet music is available at the Republic of Pemberley.

To Winthrop copy
Going on a long walk
Nocturne No.3 Op. 9: No. 3 In B – Frédéric Chopin

Chopin has such as lovely first name!

At Lyme copy
At Lyme

Prelude for piano No. 3 in G major (‘Thou Art So Like a Flower’) Op. 28 – Frédéric Chopin

Another wonderful piece that I would listen to all the time even if it wasn’t in this film. If you get to pick your tempo, I say the faster the better!

Looking for Captain copy
Anne looks for the Captain

French Suite No.3 in B minor: 3. Sarabande – Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach is nearly as cool as Chopin.

Dinner Party copy
The evening party

Prelude for piano No. 7 in A major (‘The Polish Dance’) Op. 28 – Frédéric Chopin

This prelude is so uncannily like the piece played during the Elliot evening party in the penultimate scene, I’m not quite sure why an original piece needed to be written! It’s another DIY soundtrack almost-fit, but I like it just as much as the music in the film.

That’s it! Have fun researching your favourite performances of these pieces on YouTube or other streaming services, and then have fun supporting the wonderful pianists who play for us by actually purchasing them.

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