About the Music
In the early 2000s, I read an early version of Heather Lynn’s novel, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star. I was already haunted by my classical-musician incarnation of Darcy, who then existed solely in my head, and I noted with interest that she included occasional musical selections. I thought it was a brilliant idea and that doing the same would add depth to my story, so I incorporated music into my writing from the start.
The music isn’t required listening; the story stands alone without it. But literally hundreds of readers have confirmed that the “soundtrack” adds to the enjoyment of reading about two musicians from different worlds who fall in love.
To Hear the Music
Copyright law forbids me from simply posting MP3 files for your listening enjoyment; however, if you’d like to listen along, I have created Spotify playlists that include almost every song or work referenced in the story:
- Part 1: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4fDaB3mxSJUw4DeSM3AvUK
- Part 2: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5HudSxxrbmOP7LKCW50ID2
- Parts 3 and 4: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2Tqa98BhFBy8ZHzj3wXrU0
I have also provided footnotes in each chapter with information you can use to look up the selections for purchase should you wish to do so, as well as Spotify links to each individual song, and Youtube links for most songs in case you aren’t a Spotify user. There’s always a chance the Youtube videos could disappear if they don’t have the publisher’s permission to post; please notify me if this happens.
Elizabeth Bennet’s performances
I first heard the ballad, “The Unexpected Song,” on a Judy Kaye CD and thought it was perfect as a story title; after that, I knew Elizabeth had to sing the song somewhere in the story. The song has been recorded by a lot of people, including Bernadette Peters and Sarah Brightman, but I didn’t want to select a voice as readily identifiable as theirs. A friend and I spent hours listening to dozens of recordings, seeking someone who sounded youthful, sweet, and vibrant, with a dash of vulnerability—in other words, like the Elizabeth in my head.
When I stumbled onto Christiane Noll’s recording, I knew I had found my Lizzy. She recorded it when she was just a few years older than Elizabeth’s age in the story, and I thought she sounded perfect. As a bonus, she had enough recordings available that I had lots of options for other selections. Her album A Broadway Love Story (view it on Amazon) was especially helpful, since the songs trace the progression of a love affair. At one time, when people still bought CDs, I think readers of An Unexpected Song were partly responsible for taking this album out of print, but it became widely available again a few years ago.
Ms. Noll has a long list of Broadway credentials, including originating the role of Emma in Jekyll and Hyde. More recently, you may have seen her as Sister Margaretta in the NBC live production of The Sound of Music (starring a sadly miscast Carrie Underwood), or as Cynthia Murphy (the deceased teen’s mother) in Dear Evan Hansen, both on Broadway and on the national tour.
William Darcy’s performances
I found several pianists who captured different aspects of William’s performing persona and private moods, and he is represented here by several renowned classical artists (including Van Cliburn, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Claudio Arrau, and Murray Perahia), as well as a handful of jazz pianists (including Bill Evans). As mentioned in About the Story, some aspects of William’s life parallel Van Cliburn’s, so I have used his recordings when available.
For any professional musicians who may have found their way here, I realize that an artist of William’s stature would likely have a wider and more adventurous repertoire than I will be describing. However, William’s soul lives in the music of the Romantic period, so I’ve often chosen to portray him that way when he performs for us. If you like, imagine that he plays a more diverse repertoire when we’re not there to see it.
Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #2
The central musical performance in the story, occurring at a major inflection point, is William’s performance of this concerto near the end of Part 2. This work is considered by many to be the greatest piano concerto ever written; it’s full of gorgeous melodies (one of which Eric Carmen borrowed for the song “All By Myself”) and has an astounding emotional sweep. Plus, it’s an absolute beast to play; Rachmaninoff had an unusually large hand span and wrote music to his own abilities, so faint-hearted pianists need not apply. To learn more about it:
- Read A detailed explanation of why Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concert No. 2 is an unassailably epic work of genius.
- Watch Van Cliburn play the piano concerto
- Listen to Rachmaninoff play the piano concerto (on Youtube, but no video—just an image)