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Monday, November 14, 2011

Guest Sharon Lathan--Classical Music: The Disco of the Regency Era

Linda Banche here. My guest today is Sharon Lathan and Miss Darcy Falls in Love, her latest Pride and Prejudice sequel in which Georgiana meets her match. Today she talks about the disco of the Regency.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of Miss Darcy Falls in Love which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Sharon will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winner Sharon selected is Karen H! Congratulations, Karen H, and thanks to all who came over.

Welcome back, Sharon!

Sharon Lathan:
A hundred years from now if a person were to ask, “What was the popular music during the 1970s?” disco will probably still be the first answer to pop into most people’s minds. Yet a rapid look at that decade reveals the emergence of hard rock, new wave and punk, the fusion of country with rock (Southern rock, as it was dubbed), and the growth of urban rhythm and blues, just to name a few. Two hundred years ago the same question would not be answered with as much diversity, but just like in the 70s, music was evolving and styles varied.

Somewhere in the very early decades of the 1600s Baroque music with it’s complex tones and formalized themes supplanted the simpler melodies of previous periods. There was a major shift to the preference for keyboard instruments, and stringed instruments became more sophisticated. Opera as a staged musical drama and vocal embellishments also began during this period. Vivaldi, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Handel are well known examples of Baroque musicians.

Classical period music sprung forth around 1750, lasting until 1820 when the Romantic period emerged. Although today the term “classical music” is used to encompass all three musical styles, the differences are distinct. True Classical music has a lighter, clearer texture with melodies consisting of varied rhythms and frequent changes in timbre. Orchestras increased in size with a wider number of instruments. This lead to the birth of symphonies and concertos, the importance given to instrumental performances that were independent of vocal performances. Composers Scarlatti, Haydn, Mozart, Hummel, Schubert, and of course Beethoven were revolutionary in how they wrote music. Unafraid to experiment and break established rules, their unique twists and willingness to embrace the emotional elements ushered in the Romantic era of music.

The Regency Era, especially when referring to the broader years, was a period of change in all the arts. It was also the time when music was no longer under the control of wealthy patrons or the aristocracy, this freedom initiating a burst of expression. Institutions for learning were established for men and women, rich or poor, to study and enhance their talents. England tended to move slower than the rest of Europe, as is evidenced by the preponderance of Italian, French, German and Austrian composers versus English ones. The influence was certainly felt, however, and the compositions crossed the Channel to be enjoyed by English audiences large and small.

When I decided to give Georgiana Darcy the gift of composing and mastery at playing the pianoforte I honestly had no clue how intricate the world of music was. Most of what I wrote in the above paragraphs I only marginally understand, even after months of study. I learned the bare essentials necessary to write my novel via a crash course in musical theory!

A woman of Georgiana’s class would have begun studying music at a very young age. Probably from her mother at first, and then from tutors. In general a woman only needed to be skilled enough to entertain her future husband and guests. If, however, she showed a greater aptitude and the desire, she could receive instruction from a “master” - that simply a man (typically) who had been educated and who had experience as a practicing musician. She would also attend the opera, symphony, and concertos while in London. Books on musical theory were plentiful, and since being an “accomplished woman” was valued, a woman could converse with men on the subject and practice endlessly. Yet beyond that an English woman had few other options.

Other countries in Europe did have conservatories that women could attend, and women actively participating as a singer or musician for staged performances was common. Last week on Peeking Between the Pages I wrote a blog about this subject if interested to learn more. For my purposes it was fabulous to discover that Georgiana did have an option and with her conveniently in Paris anyway I was able to leap onto the opportunity for her to enroll as a student in the Conservatoire of Music.

Nevertheless, while it was plausible for Georgiana as I arranged it, an extensive education for an Englishwoman, or acceptance as a composer, prior to the 1900s was rare. But then so was being a published author, and we all know at least one writer who managed to do that!

Synopsis of Miss Darcy Falls in Love--

Noble young ladies were expected to play an instrument, but Georgiana Darcy is an accomplished musician who hungers to pursue her talents. She embarks upon a tour of Europe, ending in Paris where two very different men will ignite her heart in entirely different ways and begin a bitter rivalry to win her. But only one holds the key to her happiness.

Set in post-Napoleonic Empire France, Miss Darcy Falls in Love is a riveting love story that enters a world of passion where gentlemen know exactly how to please and a young woman learns to direct her destiny and understand her heart.

Sharon’s Bio--

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Her previously published novels are: Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, Loving Mr. Darcy, My Dearest Mr. Darcy, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, A Darcy Christmas, and The Trouble With Mr. Darcy. Miss Darcy Falls in Love is Georgiana’s tale of love and adventure while in France. Complete with a happy ending. In addition to her writing, Sharon works as a Registered Nurse in a Neonatal ICU. She resides with her family in Hanford, California in the sunny San Joaquin Valley. Visit Sharon on her website: and on Austen Authors, her group blog with 25 novelist of Austen literature:


Linda Lant said...

Did you come up with a Lathan top forty?

Sharon Lathan said...

Thank you Linda and all the Historical Hussies for hosting me today. I always love to come here! It gives me a chance to share a bit of history, which I love. Writing about music for Miss Darcy Falls in Love was a challenge that I accepted gladly. I had a great time learning about Classical music.

I forgot to note a deadline for the giveaway! How about the end of this week? So let's say midnight at the end of 11/18. I'll pick a winner in the days after.

I'll check in frequently through the week so any questions, fire away!


Sharon Lathan said...

LOL Linda! I really should have! I'm afraid my personal music listening tastes run to classic rock and alternative. I enjoy the occasional instrumental, classical music tune but confess I have none of them on my iTunes playlist! Unless the Wedding March by Mendolsson counts? :-)

Chrisbails said...

This book sounds great. Big fan of historical romances and this one sounds great. Also love the new take on the old classics. Would love to win, so please choose me for the giveaway. Sharon is a new author for me and always looking for new books and authors to check out. Thanks for the giveaway and the chance to win.

Sharon Lathan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon Lathan said...

Sorry for the above deletion. The link was not showing up correctly! I'll try again--

If it is cool with Linda, I am going to share the link to my post at Peeking Between the Pages. It is a closer look at the Paris Conservatoire of Music, for those who are interested in that history lesson too:

*Just copy/paste since I don't know how to make the link code work. Sorry!

Sharon Lathan said...

Hi Chrisbails! I am always looking for new readers, so we are both in luck today! Thanks so much. I hope you love my novel.

Linda Banche said...

You're welcome, Sharon.

I like stories about extraordinary women. I'm not interested in the everyday in books.

And you can put up whatever links you want.

Grace Burrowes said...

Sharon, what a wonderful thumbnail sketch of Regency musicology. Part of England's isolation was due to the Corsican's mischief. Following Waterloo, English musicians and artists made up for lost time, and we have Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in part because of the English commissioned a choral symphony from him.

Then too, the English appetite for small chamber ensembles was part of his motivation behind some of the late quartets, sonatas and trios.

Gillian Layne said...

I enjoyed this post so very much. My knowledge of music is abysmal. Thanks so much for clarifying the time period.

catslady said...

I've always enjoyed the arts - music, literature and art itself and always enjoy the chance to learn more on these subjects. As to music I like a variety and almost all categories (except maybe extreme heavy metal and rap lol). I look forward to finding out how Mr. Darcy fits into this world.

Sharon Lathan said...

Grace, Thank you for your added insight. I read your post here on Historical Hussies from a few days ago and thought it was awesome that our topics overlapped!

Indeed the war and the "Corsican's mischief" (so funny!) did put a damper on many of England's advancement. And as you say, they made up for lost time - in lots of ways.

Gillian, I still consider my musical knowledge close to abysmal. I learned what I had to, which was a great deal, but sort of like cramming for a big test, it mostly leaked out of my head! I could still tell you more about 70s disco music, or better yet 80s music, than classical. LOL!

phastings said...

Sharon, wonderful post. I enjoyed the history lesson. I learned something new, thank you. Miss Darcy Falls in Love sounds delightful. I like the idea of Georgiana pursuing her love of music in Paris. I can't wait to meet the two men that will ignite her heart. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

Karen H said...

I have to admit two things here:
1) I've never read Sharon Lathan's work and
2) I've never read the many alternative P&P, Darcy, etc books on the market now.

That said, I am interested in this new one. I think Georgiana Darcy is one character in need of her own story and I say 'It's about time!'. This book is going on my BTB list. So I say, 'Nice to meet you Sharon' and thanks for the giveaway.

kareninnc at gmail dot com

Sharon Lathan said...

Yippee! I intrigued a new Austen fan fic reader! My friends will be so proud of me. LOL!

Karen, I am very happy that Miss Darcy Falls in Love interests you. I do hope you like it and will then take the plunge into other Austen genre novels. And it is VERY nice to meet you too!

phastings, Hello! You will love both men (one more than the other, I hope) but they are good guys who put up a fight for our heroine. Gotta love that!

Chelsea B. said...

I can't wait to read Miss Darcy Falls in love! It sounds great!


Rebecca (RivkaBelle) said...

I'm getting more and more excited about getting my hands on this book :oD

Sharon, your research amazes me (and its okay if you only understand it marginally, I think that's the general theme of in-depth crash courses, hehe) ... I work in a University History Dept, so I'm used to hearing people talk about their latest projects. This one is super interesting, and LOVE that it applies to a bit of Austenia fiction :oD