The Music of Downton Abbey

By Brian McCreath

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Downton Abbey, from WGBH’s Masterpiece Classic, won the 2012 Emmy Award for Original Dramatic Score for a Series. Classical New England talks with John Lunn, the composer of the winning score.


Highclere Castle, the setting of Downton Abbey
(image by Mike Searle, via Wikimedia;  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
)

When you think of Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey, the first thing that comes to mind might be Highclere Castle, which “plays” Downton Abbey itself. Or maybe the mind-boggling “proper-ness” of practically every single character depicted.

One especially powerful aspect of Downton you may not have noticed – at least consciously – was the music you heard.

In a way, that’s as it should be. The score was written by John Lunn and accomplishes precisely what any film score must: a ratcheting up of the emotional trajectory of the story while simultaneously going unnoticed.

You might imagine Lunn as a wizard-like composer in a meticulous process, weaving together strands of silvery sound to form a gorgeous tapestry. But as he told me, that’s not exactly how the process started:
 



To hear more about Downton Abbey from actress Elizabeth McGovern, visit The World.

Here's a look back at Season 2:

Watch Downton Abbey I Wonder Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

 

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